Four decades after Tricky Dick’s Operation Intercept (aimed at stopping the flow of marijuana into the US from Mexico) started the US off on its longest-running “endless war,” there are signs that international anti-drug efforts are running out of steam. At the recent Summit of the Americas, several Western Hemisphere leaders suggested that the War on Drugs is a burden that’s too heavy for their countries to continue to bear—and that it’s time to consider decriminalizing at least some illegal drugs. An excellent article by the UK Guardian’s Douglas Haddow has more:
The problem with the drug war, and the reason why it has taken so long for reformers to gain any traction, is that it has remained a niche issue due to its deeply classist nature. In a global context, developing nations endure the violence while the developed subsidise it, through both consumer demand and law enforcement funding. Within the developed countries a similar formula is reproduced; with poor neighbourhoods and demographics taking the place of their nation-state equivalents.
The corrosive results of this arrangement are obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. Public funds are diverted away from more worthy projects into the criminal justice system. Police are made to spend their days toiling as bagmen and bullies while other, more morally reprehensible crimes go unnoticed. Entire postal codes lose faith in their governments and many become completely alienated from those same police who are meant to protect them. Throughout the western hemisphere and Europe, the public’s view of government has been subject to a lingering decay. The American public’s trust in their government has never been lower, the same goes for Mexico, and last year’s riots in England demonstrated exactly what happens when a nation operates on a shredded social contract.
On the other hand, the prison-industrial complex makes tons of money by keeping drugs illegal. And the gun manufacturers make a pretty penny by selling arms to police, drug dealers, and the various drug cartels.
You can read all of Haddow’s piece here.