Everyone knows the drug war is a failure

The Air Force, the Army, the Senate…

Voice of America

Two high-ranking U.S. military commanders say Mexico’s violent war against drug cartels has moved into other parts of Central America.

Air Force General Douglas Fraser, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that transnational organized crime rings are threatening to overwhelm law enforcement and are “seriously impacting civilian safety” in the area.

“Senator, it is – is an effort that we see is moving down through Central America,” Gen. Fraser said. “As Mexico increases their pressure, we see that the networks from especially Los Zetas and Sinaloa are moving into Central America. Guatemala is obviously that first location, but we see their – their footprints further down into Central America as well.”

More than 50,000 people have been killed since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a massive military crackdown against the cartels in 2006.

But U.S. Army General Charles Jacoby, the head of the U.S. Northern Command, told the committee the violence has risen despite Mr. Calderon’s strategy of strategy of targeting the leaders of the cartels.

“I also believe the decapitation strategy – they’ve been successful at that: 22 out of the top 37 trafficking figures that the Mexican government has gone after have been taken off – taken off the board, but it has not had an appreciable effect – an appreciable positive effect,” he said.

I was particularly amused by the ironic “Related Articles” blurb at the end…

Yep. The government knows that our drug war is bad drug policy and causes harm to the world, but is not about to change it for anything. Not for 50,000 deaths. Not for a million.

And it is this disconnect between reality and policy that leads to the most amazing abuses of logic and the English language that you could ever imagine.

Just read Gil Kerlikowske’s offensively ugly presentation to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs this week. Read the whole thing (breakage alert).

It is staggering dishonesty to break the drug policy debate down as he does:

So what should drug policy look like moving forward? Surely it should chart a middle course—we do not have to choose between the extremes of harsh punishment and labor camps on the one hand, and acceptance of destructive and dangerous drug use on the other.

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40 Responses to Everyone knows the drug war is a failure

  1. n.t. greene says:

    Drug cartels are like the mythic Hydra – cut off one head and two more will spring forth. If you want to kill the beast, you must remove the ability for the heads to regrow — by eliminating the cartel’s role in the drug trade.

    The only immortal head is prohibition itself. Kill that and you can smite the entire beast.

  2. darkcycle says:

    I mean, that’s how we’re supposed to treat illnesses? Right? Chart a “middle ground” between forced labor and torturing the sick people, and advertising them in children’s programming ( he wants a “middle ground” forced treatment. kinda like the old Soviet and Maoist “Re-education” camps, which were…er…forced labor and torture).
    I love it when they are really willing to look at all the options (as long as they include the good ole’ American values of torture and forced labor)

    • darkcycle says:

      Sorry, that didn’t come out…um…well…you get my drift, right?

    • n.t. greene says:

      Of course, it is not the mandate of the Drug Czar to examine options, or even to create effective policy.

      But you never hear that, do you? It’s funny to think that we pay this guy to distribute detestable propaganda and misinformation. Might as well call his office the Ministry of Truth.

  3. d mccoy says:

    Its very simple folks…so many people, politicians, police, correction people, etc etc etc are making so much money from the cartels and the cartels themselves are making so much money that it is impossible to change the war on drugs. I wish some lazy journalists would get off their butts and look into the American politicians that rant about never making pot legal and see if there is any cartel money in their bank accounts because they are, in effect, working for the cartels, paid or otherwise.

    • allan says:

      have to disagree…

      We have changed and are changing the wo(s)d. If someone had told me in 1973 (when I was spreading pot seeds in the flower beds of my Air Force base) that 30 years down the road I’d be standing side by side w/ cops for legalization I woulda called ’em crazy.

      Here we are.

      When I first started writing LTEs w/ the MAPsters in the late ’90s… no one out there even knew there was a drug war. Now… the public is even equating it w/ Prohibition I. Now, the President – no matter how hard he tries to sidestep it – is being pressed hard to discuss drug policy reform. The chorus is becoming the proverbial blaring of trumpets at the wall.

      C’mon McCoy… pick up that hammer and swing away. It’s liberating. Literally.

      • allan says:

        we even have Pat “3 screws loose” Robertson on the flat bed w/ us! I mean even if he’s only good for the “Whaaa?” factor, who cares.

        Those are real holes in the wall… and too many now have passed that fought before me for me to lay down in surrender. FTS…

      • primus says:

        Uhhhh. That’s 39 years, not 30.

        • allan says:

          was going from LEAP’s launching and my work w/ them. And yeah primus, I had to stop and think about that… LEAP is now 10 years old! My how time flies when you’re having fun… and thanks for keeping an eye on me. Us old folks need help once in awhile…

  4. Chris says:

    In the United States, we are already seeing progress but there are some who argue that the best way to reform drug policy is to scrap or rewrite the Conventions. This is a serious misjudgment. It is not the Conventions that have prevented us from investing in treatment and prevention, it is not the Conventions that have blocked us from developing alternatives to incarceration, and it is not the Conventions that have delayed us from launching evidence-based prevention programs in our schools and communities.

    Rather, it is the Conventions, in their current form, that give Member States the flexibility they need to adjust their national policies to best serve their citizens.

    The single convention is extremely flexible. For example, it can allow medicinal cocaine and methamphetamine. It is not very flexible when it comes to cannabis however.

    • claygooding says:

      That is because the entire policy of having a drug czar and drug enforcement police is to keep hemp off the open market,,other drugs are included but the main job the ONDCP and DEA has is to convince America they are fighting the good fight and that marijuana is dangerous enough to warrant the effort,,,

      It would be enlightening to know how much money NIDA has spent searching for harm in marijuana,,they have searched since their inception and are still searching now. Would like to know how their budget breaks down in how much money is spent “investigating” each drug for harm but the GOA has never answered any request of mine for total amount of research dollars spent by NIDA,,I am sure it is in the billions of dollars range.

  5. Francis says:

    More than 50,000 people have been killed since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a massive military crackdown against the cartels in 2006.

    “I also believe the decapitation strategy – they’ve been successful at that: 22 out of the top 37 trafficking figures that the Mexican government has gone after have been taken off – taken off the board, but it has not had an appreciable effect – an appreciable positive effect,” he said.

    Nice save at the end there. I think we can all agree that 50,000 murdered is an “appreciable effect,” but no, it’s not a positive one.

  6. Matthew Meyer says:

    Ah, the Sabetian Middle Path.

    Neither jackbooted thug nor grimy pothead be…we’ll just shift some dollars over to ‘treatment’ and then…ah, yes, that’s it. Right there.

    What do we say to this “middle path” BS?

  7. darkcycle says:

    We point out that criminalization and incarceration/forced treatment IS one extreme, free access without controls is the other extreme, and the middle path is regulation and restricted access. And with particular prejudice, we point out that the ONLY option that gives us any control whatsoever over these substances and their consumption is the middle path. With criminalization, we give up the control to the Black Market, with unfettered legalization we give control to the legal market, in either extreme the result is the same… we give up the ability to control drugs.

    • claygooding says:

      Complete legalization of marijuana would result in a market of the best for the least amount of money,,the best control you could have to keep marijuana out of the criminals market,,,since we don’t have any real harms from marijuana,health or psychological dangers except in the prohibs mind,it would be the quickest way to remove the crime from marijuana.

      Except we have held marijuana up as a savior for state and city governments and the only way to control the greed of politicians from keeping criminals involved in the marijuana market by exorbitant sin taxes will be if we are allowed to grow our own to force the politicians to control their greed or people will grow their own or buy it from criminals when taxed too heavily.

      • darkcycle says:

        Insofar as taxation is concerned, Francis’ research showed that people are willing to pay a hefty surcharge in the form of taxes for the ability to buy products like tobacco and alcohol legally. I agree that people should be able to grow their own, but people grow their own tomatoes, too; it doesn’t have a significant effect on the commercial market for tomatoes.
        The black market as we know it will be eliminated with legalization. What we have in tobacco and alcohol are fringe element grey markets, I’d venture a guess the same will be true for pot.
        Clay, without some form of regulation, there’s no way we could ever convince the 49% of people who don’t support pot legalization to buy in. We need common sense regulation, and we’re going to have to take the lead in designing it, or have the prohibs design it for us. I’m afraid it’s just that simple. The free market is not going to be our savior (no “free market” has ever existed).

        • Francis says:

          Taking all externalities into account, the optimal tax rate for cannabis is probably a subsidy. I know what you’re thinking: “But Francis, aren’t you one of those ‘small government’ libertarians?” Yes, but that doesn’t mean I’m some kind of rigid ideologue. Remember “Cash for Clunkers”? Well, that turned out to be kind of a bust, but how about a “Hash for Drunkards” program? Trade in your unused booze for premium-grade hash. I’m thinking of making it a key plank in my presidential run. 😉

  8. Servetus says:

    Kerlikowske needs to start his sentences with “I wish upon a star…”, because prohibition exists in Fantasyland. The pod people in Washington took over Kerlikowske’s body and made him one of their own long ago. A movie depicting prohibition’s past and present leadership could be called ‘Stepford Czars’. There is neither freedom nor humanity in ONDCP’s Fantasyland, and there is no there there.

    • claygooding says:

      It makes one wonder why any person would take a job that requires them to be labeled as a paid liar for the rest of history,,I see no way his and every drug czar since the ONDCP re-authorization act was put in place to ever justify their lying to the people that pay their paycheck.

  9. claygooding says:

    More driving on marijuana propaganda and so far neither site I checked allowed comments,,so I am seeing it as propaganda.

    Marijuana legalization backers puzzling over how to keep stoned drivers off the road.


    “”Dr. Marilyn Huestis of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a government research lab, says that soon there will be a saliva test to detect recent marijuana use.But government officials say that doesn’t address the question of impairment.

    “”I’ll be dead — and so will lots of other people — from old age, before we know the impairment levels” for marijuana and other drugs, said White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske.””

    All the info from every federal agency is there but not one mention of any science or simulator testing for driving under the influence,,when they have no proff of impairment using the science we have they drag out their straw man and use their logical claims that since alcohol impairs drivers marijuana must also.

    • claygooding says:

      The article is popping up all over and the only place I have found any comments is the NY Daily News and although I have an account too comment,when I sign in it signs me in but no comment window opens in the discussion,it just shows the three comments they have posted,,,,I wonder if my acct was black listed because it is propaganda?

      At the original source in Denver,,where a medical marijuana patient comments about being saturated with cannabis,,no comments allowed and it is the worst editing job on an article I have seen in awhile.

    • divadab says:

      Yup – these people are incapable of considering any other model of “impairment” than alcohol, which they apply blindly and stupidly to hemp flower medicine. I’d rather see 100 cannabis-medicated drivers than one drunk on the road – cannabis is a moderator; alcohol is a remover of moderation.

      My reflexes are faster medicated than un-medicated. I’m a more patient driver medicated than un-medicated. I drive more slowly medicated than un-medicated.

      How many people can truthfully assert that alcohol makes them a better driver?

      • MaineGeezer says:

        A lot of drunks believe they are still competent to drive when they aren’t.

        If one is stoned, I guess one is aware of impairment and compensates accordingly…but I still think you’re better off driving not under the influence of anything.

        You may compensate by driving more slowly, but if that means you drive at 40mph on a 65mph road it’s not a particularly good thing. Patience is good…but is your thought process clear enough to use the patience to advantage? I understand there is also a tendency to suddenly feel lost: you’re driving along a familiar road when you suddenly wonder: where the he** am I? I don’t recognize anything! Have I driven past where I wanted to turn?

        I don’t know. You’re the driver, not me. Just guessing, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to act as though MJ has no effect on driving abilities. Though I think research has clearly demonstrated the impairment is much less than alcohol, a prudent driver will not smoke and drive.

        • claygooding says:

          Every law enforcement agency across the nation has used a roadside impairment test and coupled with a dash camera will convict a person if they can’t pass the test.

          It doesn’t matter what drugs you have in your body if you can pass the test and there is no need for an impaired driver law for marijuana plus one for alcohol,plus one for etc,etc,etc,,,we already have too many laws.

          If you are driving impaired then you are driving impaired.

    • allan says:

      the copy I saw fwded to me from one of those pesky dpr groups had this headline, “Stoned driving epidemic puts wrinkle in pot debate”

      comments were that it was a straight up Press Release from the desk of Robert DuPont. As we all know there is no epidemic and this a move from the Prohibitionist profiteers. We have more cars, more miles driven, more drivers, than ever and the fatality rate from autos is at it’s lowest in 50 – 60 years.

      What this IS sounding like to my ears is a watering down of the original push for a per se federal dui law.

      And the image I’ve had while reading the post and comments is a bunch of folks digging a big hole… the hole gets bigger, deeper and they keep claiming they’re almost there – “just a little more digging!” – but as any can plainly see it’s a hole to nowhere. Just a big, f’ing empty hole… but a hole w/ a whole industry pushing it’s worth, selling it like beachfront property in Nevada …

  10. Servetus says:

    Excellent video, 1 hr 32 min, German produced and subtitled in German, on the U.S. drug war:

    The war on drugs (The Prison Industrial Complex)


  11. Dante says:

    Here’s a question:

    What government program, other than the War on Drugs, costing an estimated $50 Billion per year, has never achieved a single one of the goals which were used to justify the cost when the program was introduced?

    Are there any? The war in Iraq comes to mind, any others?

    If so, who supports THOSE programs? Are they the exact same people who support the War on Drugs? Is there a connection?

  12. ezrydn says:

    When Tricky Dick inked his name onto the WOsD legislation, how many CTOs were there? How many Mexicans had been killed? What happened to price, purity and availability after the signing? How many American homes had been invaded by police at that time? How many knew that Nixon was signing a Death Warrent on Children? Who ever thought the LEOs in America would become militarized?

    Think about it. We have. And, in 288 days, you can do something to turn the tide of repression. How? With your VOTE!

  13. Francis says:

    OT: It looks like someone snapped a photo of Obama DOING DRUGS on Saturday! And I’m not talking about a little harmless pot. The drug he was taking is a proven killer:

    President Obama joined the ranks of tipsy revelers across the nation by ringing in St. Patrick’s Day with a pint of Guinness.

    Yeah, I guess you saw that one coming. Apparently, Obama wasn’t the only one tipping back a few cold ones:

    On two occasions, the hundreds of partiers sent up cries of “Four more years!”

    Look, I understand that it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but if your beer goggles have gotten that thick, you’ve overdone it. I also liked this:

    One woman loudly urged the president to “sign my face.” He declined.

    Hmm, where would I ask Obama to sign if I had the chance?

  14. Duncan20903 says:


    Ann Arbor police shut down bars early because the drunks were engaging in mayhem in the streets. Has anyone ever seen any kind of behavior of the celebrants that even remotely resembles this on April 20th? I’m aware of only one arrest for violence on our holiday. Remarkably it was a fist fight between 2 women.

    • darkcycle says:

      The only violence done on April 20th is that done to the snack isle at Safeway.

      • claygooding says:

        Stay off the Cheetos isle and what those red-eyed devils are doing on the snack isle pales when you reach the candy section.

  15. Duncan20903 says:

    I normally don’t pay much attention to the synthetic marijuana brouhaha. Perhaps a mistake?

    Synthetic Marijuana Just As Dangerous

    Products Are Blend Of Plant, Herbal Materials Sprayed With Chemicals

    By Val Wadas-Willingham CNN

    POSTED: 7:39 am EDT March 19, 2012
    UPDATED: 8:28 am EDT March 19, 2012

    (CNN) — It may not be marijuana, but its effects are just as potent. A new report in this week’s edition of the journal Pediatrics finds more emergency rooms across the United States are seeing an increase in patients who have used synthetic marijuana.

    • darkcycle says:

      That there’s some classic prohibitionist “what about the children” handwringing…observe:
      “If you’re a parent and suspect your child may be using synthetic marijuana, look for these signs: Excessive sweating, agitation, inability to speak, aggression and restlessness.”
      I hear that and I want to laugh, and projectile vomit at the same time.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        I’m more concerned that it’s being presented as an equivalent of cannabis when it’s become pretty apparent that synthetic pot is dangerous. Then again I guess blaming pot for the negative consequences of other drugs is nothing new.

    • Peter says:

      Val Wadas-Willingham is just a lazy stooge for the prohibs, printing whatever they tell her. Here she is on the great scourge of “drugged driving” complete with quote from Kerlilowske:


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