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A Point

....everything the war on drugs does not have

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 03, 2010.

In a shocker, a recent paper suggests that our War on Drugs in Columbia may be a fiasco, because the nation is essentially broke and living on credit, it should be re-evaluated. We need the money, after all.

Among other cheery findings, the paper finds that "...rather than bringing stability, increases in military aid caused spikes in violence from Colombia's infamous paramilitary organizations and had no impact whatsoever on coca production." Plan Colombia, which is the title of our policy to fight left wing, drug dealing insurgents in that nation, "...may have served as little more than a conduit for channeling weapons to the destabilizing influences that it was meant to suppress." That's mostly a quote from the report.

Let's be honest. There are no good sides here. Columbia is given to fascist inclinations with right wing governance. The detritus of a 1960's communist, so-called, insurgency adds the pain of left wing thuggery to the mix, and both combined with the inevitable right-wing paramilitary groups. There are two guerrilla armies in the field, FARC and the ELN, just to keep a sense of complete understanding from creeping in. All it serves to prove is that sometimes the enemy of your enemy is not a friend but another and worse enemy. It must seem that way to the nation's poor, who also inevitably get involved growing the coca crop and get stomped on by everyone at whim.

Because the United States with its Delta Force and SEAL units killed Pablo Escobar back in the day and hit the Medellin cartel hard, the romance of violence against drug lords has proven a satisfying myth for the American military and the media alike. As such, they neglect reporting on the overpowering waste of money and the complete strategic failure of this and all aspects of the drug war. How could it be successful when the prime market is American youth and those trying to be like American youth, up and down scale? That it also exposes young men to the temptations of the trade is just ignored.

In a world of decreasing employment and even less fulfilling employment sufficient to feed and interest the masses, the attractions of drugs and alcohol and religion are obvious. Stupid, but obvious.

Our nation has spent five billion dollars in the last quarter century, but the effect of that hasn't even decreased the number of attacks around our Army bases. There was an actual decline in anti-narcotics operations by the Colombian military in response to greater U.S. aid, and coca production continued unchanged. Per usual, there's evidence that our money was channeled to paramilitaries, and this to intimidate voters and keep its government allies in power. One interesting slant in articles about this report is to compare our use of the military in Columbia with its recent use in Haiti.

It is reasonably predicted that, after the good publicity and high efficiency the military has shown in organizing and helping Haitians, when we leave, we will leave a nation without the ability to maintain the minimal public calm to construct the governing institutions that just left with the Marines. The media and public will lose interest, and Haiti will either be subject to some violent thug as in the past or starve to death. It's a painful admission by the American left, but "...a military presence can be critical to maintain the peace and stability that's required for investment and rebuilding to take place in nations torn apart by war and other turmoil. Haiti, with its legacy of weak, ineffective government, makes it a particularly promising candidate for such assistance." Yet, there is no money for it, and because it's primarily black, and there is no pleasing prospect of success, and because we owe Haiti and don't like to be reminded of it, this far more rational and conservative employment of military resources will not be adopted.

As California becomes more and more like Haiti - today, Republican candidates to replace Ahnald are accusing each other of imbecility and criminal activity to the FBI - it is time again - and frankly, it's always time again - to look at our drug laws from the point of view of conservative values and ethics, which is that if people want to get high, all we can do is warn them and arrest them if a law is broken, and there should be no such government intrusion in such a matter. If liberal, you want to do what works for the poorest and doesn't enrich the thugocracy, here or elsewhere. Time for the stupid drug laws to go, given peasantry world wide a cash crop, and free police and military for important matters.

Governing Haiti for a few years would be a pleasant start. It would be effective, appreciated, and have a discernible criteria for victory. In short, it would have everything the War on Drugs does not. A point.