War on Drugs discussion reopened in the wake of Fast and Furious.

Despite decades fighting the drug wars, millions of Americans use cannabis just as others use alcohol. When listening to arguments opposing its legalization, substitute ‘alcohol’ for ‘marijuana’ and you’ll hear the same words that were exchanged almost 100 years ago.

Now that the Fast and Furious controversy has once again opened the discussion on Mexican violence, perhaps it’s time we discuss one of the greatest failures in American public policy. What are your thoughts on the War on Drugs?

From The Atlantic

The Policy That Killed 100 Times as Many Mexicans as Fast and Furious

by CONOR FRIEDERSDORF

For political reasons, GOP partisans suddenly care a lot about dead foreigners. They should turn their attention to the war on drugs.

Self-serving political considerations can have the salutary effect of spurring Congress to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch, as in the House GOP’s Fast and Furious investigation.

It can also bring out the partisan’s inner humanitarian.

Before Fast and Furious, I never recall the conservative movement giving much thought to dead Mexicans. But now that the body count can be attributed to a bureaucracy run by Democrats?

The right is invoking the tragic deaths of foreigners with great frequency.

Said Texas Governor Rick Perry, “We’ve had over 300 Mexican nationals killed directly attributable to this Fast and Furious operation, where they brought those guns into Mexico. A former Marine and a Border Patrol agent by the name of Brian Terry lost his life. With Watergate you had a second-rate burglary.”

Mark Steyn brought up the body count while complaining about the liberal reaction to the investigation. “Insofar as they know anything about Fast and Furious, it’s something to do with the government tracking the guns of fellows like those Alabama ‘Segregation Forever’ nuts, rather than a means by which hundreds of innocent Rigoberta Menchús south of the border were gunned down with weapons sold to their killers by liberal policymakers of the Obama administration,” he wrote.

There has been enough commentary of that kind that political satirists are starting to notice. Said Bill Maher on his HBO show, “First of all, let me just say, Republicans don’t care about dead Mexicans.” His comments spurred outraged posts in the conservative blogosphere. But the problem isn’t that he was wrong, so much as that his biting remark ought to have been broader. Democrats don’t care about dead Mexicans either assuming a reasonable definition of “care.”

Abstractly, do they regret it when foreigners die?

Sure. So do Republicans.

Does either party put forth any effort to change the American policy that results in more dead Mexicans than any other?

Nope.

They talk about how tragic it is that 300 Mexican nationals were killed by Fast and Furious. But they keep right on supporting the war on drugs. President Bush and President Obama both insisted that our southern neighbor to keep fighting it, and our Latin American allies too, though they’re despairing.

Since the 2006 crackdown on cartels that the United States urged on, between 35,000 and 40,000 people have been killed by drug violence in Mexico alone. The drug cartels are powerful enough to cause that kind of carnage only because Americans keep buying their drugs, even as U.S. politicians and voters back domestic policies such that all narcotics transactions take place on a black market that inevitably empowers murderous criminals. It’s an unintended consequence, to be sure, but after all these decades is that really an excuse anymore?

We all know that prohibition fuels violence.

When the prohibitionist worries that legalizing drugs would increase drug use and addiction, that U.S. productivity might fall, and that it would send a bad moral signal, their argument is effectively, “The harm legalization might do is worse than tens of thousands of foreigners dying, worse than decades-long wars with cartels, worse than whole regions being destabilized.”

It’s a very easy calculation to make when the dead people are mostly far away, in foreign countries or in bad neighborhoods you don’t pass through.

Everyone seems to agree, for purposes of arguing on cable news, that Fast and Furious was indefensible — that it was illegitimate to risk the lives of Mexicans in an effort to bring down the cartels.

I certainly concur.

I also think the policy that killed tens of thousands of Mexicans over the last few years is illegitimate. But both political parties are inextricably implicated in that policy, so no one cares about those dead foreigners. (They don’t think much about the Americans prohibition kills either.)

Our drug policies do far more to cause violence in Mexico than Fast and Furious ever did. That doesn’t mean gun-walking wasn’t scandalous. It just means the bigger scandal has yet to be addressed.

Conor Friedersdorf

CONOR FRIEDERSDORF – Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

From The Economist

The path to decriminalisation
Jun 1st 2012 by E.G. | AUSTIN

ON TUESDAY, Beto O’Rourke, a former city councilman from El Paso, defeated the longtime incumbent Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary for Texas’s 16th congressional district. It was probably the biggest upset in the state, and an outcome that has attracted national attention, for a simple reason: Mr O’Rourke, who will almost certainly win the general election in November, supports legalising marijuana.

While not entirely unprecedented, this is an outlying opinion among politicians. Polling shows that fully half of Americans now support legalising marijuana. Yet among national office-holders, the figure is about 0-1%. As Paul Waldman argues, the disparity might arise from the fact that there aren’t really any electoral incentives for the politician who wants to go to bat on this issue, but there are plenty of risks—the risk of being seen as soft on crime, the risk of being seen as a crank, etc. Mr O’Rourke is perhaps insulated from these risks, because this is manifestly an issue that affects the district he hopes to represent, rather than some kind of dilettantish libertarian thing. He and Susie Byrd, also a former city representative, published a book last year describing the devastation of Mexico’s drug war, particularly in El Paso’s twinned city of Juarez, and arguing that decriminalising marijuana would be the best way to dismantle the black market that fuels the trade. The Economist supports decriminalising drugs for similar reasons, and such arguments are more compelling than complaints about personal freedom which, while valid, can come across as tasteless and self-absorbed. You can’t open a paper from Juarez without reading about somebody being beheaded or disemboweled.

It would be wrong to interpret the race as an up-and-down vote on drug policy: as suggested before, this was a local election between two prominent local politicians, and the outcome might have hinged on turnout. And it would be surprising if a freshman representative single-handedly changed America’s drug policy. Still, Mr O’Rourke’s win is significant. The debate over decriminalising marijuana might have similar contours as the debate over legalising gay marriage, albeit for different reasons. Ten years ago, that is, gay marriage was widely seen as an extremely marginal issue, if it was seen at all; five years ago it was a mainstream but controversial issue; today, a majority of Americans are in favour, and top-level politicians (often a lagging indicator of social change) are coming out in favour of the cause too. At every step of the way, proponents helped their friends and neighbours get used to the idea, not just by making reasoned arguments, but by serving as living proof that the cause in question was not alien. With regard to drug policy, having elected officials who support decriminalisation or other alternatives to the war on drugs means that the spectrum of mainstream public opinion is expanding. That will make it easier for others to come around too.

 

2 comments

  1. Keep up the good fight Catherine!

  2. Hi Catherine,This has got to be the biggest stupidity that has ever been addressed in this country.Politician’s legalize alcohol that directly kill’s 55k people a year just from driving drunk.Now let’s talk about how many people drink themselve’s to death and so on,what a plague!Of course we know the evil agenda of this government to create situation’s that will addict people to destructive habit’s.It’s easier to control a population with debilitating activities,to dumb them down ,to intoxicate them and to keep them frustrated.A beautiful vicious cycle.Where do you think the formula for methamphetimine came from,Hitler’s regime to control his armies,we got it when we shut down Hitler.Check it out for yourself.Check out many of the speeches G.W. Bush used to address the nation ,many were almost verbatem to Hitler’s speeches to Germany at there time.It’s all about the money,Daddy Bush traded gun’s for cocaine[Iran ,contra scandal]Dea has footage of his cocaine gun trades in action.Addict the society contol the currency who will stand up for what’s right,not the drunk’s or the high people.Human behavior is a facinating thing,take a right away ,you can’t have that cookie!,man you’ll walk through fire to get that cookie!Look at the countries that have legalized human vices drug’s,alcohol and prostitution.The usage goes way down,again and again.People can manage themselve’s given the right to.Treat them like children they’ll act like children.Look at pharmaceutical’s,they kill as many people and more a year as alcohol does.Oh but we need to put people on maintenance,don’t cure them when we can!The drug companies need billion’s of dollar’s to sit on and who care’s how many people die they need there money.Look how the FDA has fought against DR. Burzynski,a Dr. curing cancer at a 90 to 95% rate with out chemo or radiation all with a simple natural protien derivitive.Why?how can the drug companies make any money curing people?Now let’s look at marijuana,I know manypeople that use it for many ailment’s with incredible relief.Such as fibro-myalgia,estonia,cancer[it also has been proven to cure many cancer's]nervous disorder’s are relieved,mental condition are eased,there is only a mountain of proof and information proving the health benefit’s from the last 400 year’s.This whole thing is a huge stupid mess driven by greed and control of a society.Legalize pot the Mexican Cartel’s go away,people will use it responsibly.Synthesized drug’s are a real danger this we also have mountain’s of evidence proving,but who can make billion’s with something natural we can grow ourselve’s.I agree it’s time we look at and analyze the evidence in truth with the million’s of people that have lost their live’s due to commercial drug’s and the evidence for natural med’s.In my 50 year’s I’ve learned one thing for sure,the government cannot manage or control this issue,they can only create bigger problem’s this we have proof on as well.So correct the diet let people make enough money to live an abundant life,as our grandparent’s did.Gramp’s had the job Granny stayed home and raised the kid’s,Gramp’s put them through college on his pay He and Granny paid off there house and car’s and still had money to retire on,Abundantly!Stop micro-managing people’s live’s through government lies and deception.Stop pigeon wholing people in there ability to earn money from regulation.As people prosper how many people will then destroy their live’s with drink and drug’s for the frustration created by our socialist government!So as you see this problem is far deeper than just the cartel thing,let’s correct what is really the underlying issue’s here and addiction will go away as will the cartel’s with a breath of air!Political correctness,out sourcing our job’s making law’s against freedom and prosperty,trashing our constitutional right’s are all immoral and from an evil agenda.Like I said Dear,the surface of this argument is stupid let’s get to the real subject matter while we still have a country and innailiable rights to fight for.We can be intelligent again and the best people this world has ever seen!Let’s tear open the cover of this subject and deal with it as we should,as a people as a free country not as a corrupt government with a controlling agenda that spews lies like breathing!It’s time we do what Iceland just did!This is a huge problem with many false face’s to confuse people to no action,if we close our border’s no more cartel drug’s problem solved.Go back to open market resolution’s with little jurisdiction from the government ,problem solved.Stop debauching our currency,problem solved.Stop letting the central banker’s dictate to our puppet polotician’s,problem solved.Take payoff’s out of politic’s problem solved.Go back to a fare pay scale for families to live on,problem solved.Stop corporate malfeasance and corruption ,problem solved.This is a huge stupid issue that encompasses many level’s.Let’s take back our government from the corrupt,throw the politician’s in jail with the central banker’s and re-establish our constitution.Put us back on the Gold standard,no more debauching our currency.The drug thing as you see would correct itself if the proper step’s were to be taken.This is my opinion of a problem that run’s far deeper than the surface you are pointing at now,however thank you Dear for asking.Keep asking the hard question’s you may recreate crtical thinker’s in this country yet,hope,hope hope!!!!If we don’t grab the bull by the horn’s soon we’re doomed! I offered my service and life for this country for 12 year’s in the Army.I’ve been a job creator for many year’s as well,if I can figure this out with average intelligence by asking why and following the money trail’s to whom make’s the rule’s and how do they serve them to what end ,maybe just maybe there’s hope in the land once again!!! I’ve rambled enough,God Bless.
    Sincerely,Richard Haynes a concerned citizen.

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