“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, August 20, 2007

The War on Drugs is Lost. Continuing it is a Security Problem.

"The price of drugs is falling, the Afghan poppy crop is booming, and traffickers are turning as big a profit as ever."

The "war on Drugs" is a failure. The drug culture was glorified and promoted by Hollywood and it is now a global phenomenon. Drugs have always been part of human society. They are a scourge on humanity. It is difficult to find a life that has been improved by the habitual use of drugs. Misery, disease, ruined lives and now terrorism are all by-products of the illicit drug trade. What to do about it?
"Confiscated drug money from one Mexican raid."

Drugs are all about money and image. Take away the money and the drug culture is reduced to a clinical problem. I see no serious solution that does not include the regularization of drug use. That begins with a legal distribution at a price that is far lower than what is available on the street. The use of drugs should be treated the same way we treat alcoholism, tobacco and mental illness. Nothing else has worked. Nothing else will work.

Here is a very sobering assessment on the link between terrorism and the drug wars from the Washington Post:

The Lost War
We've Spent 36 Years and Billions of Dollars Fighting It, but the Drug Trade Keeps Growing

By Misha Glenny
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Poppies were the first thing that British army Capt. Leo Docherty noticed when he arrived in Afghanistan's turbulent Helmand province in April 2006. "They were growing right outside the gate of our Forward Operating Base," he told me. Within two weeks of his deployment to the remote town of Sangin, he realized that "poppy is the economic mainstay and everyone is involved right up to the higher echelons of the local government."

Poppy, of course, is the plant from which opium -- and heroin -- are derived.

The price of drugs is falling, the Afghan poppy crop is booming, and traffickers are turning as big a profit as ever. Former BBC reporter Mischa Glenny examines the failures of U.S. War on Drugs -- which many authorities point to as the biggest booster of the narcotics trade.

Docherty was quick to realize that the military push into northern Helmand province was going to run into serious trouble. The rumor was "that we were there to eradicate the poppy," he said. "The Taliban aren't stupid and so they said, 'These guys are here to destroy your livelihood, so let's take up arms against them.' And it's been a downward spiral since then."

Despite the presence of 35,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, the drug trade there is going gangbusters. According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghan opium production in 2006 rose a staggering 57 percent over the previous year. Next month, the United Nations is expected to release a report showing an additional 15 percent jump in opium production this year while highlighting the sobering fact that Afghanistan now accounts for 95 percent of the world's poppy crop. But the success of the illegal narcotics industry isn't confined to Afghanistan. Business is booming in South America, the Middle East, Africa and across the United States..."
...More here


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. U.S. drug war prisons: "A Radicalizing Cauldron"

    According to the newly released New York City Police Department report,
    "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat"
    by Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt Senior Intelligence Analysts NYPD Intelligence Division, prisons are
    "A Radicalizing Cauldron".

    "Prisons can play a critical role in both triggering and reinforcing the radicalization process. The prison’s isolated environment, ability to create a “captive audience” atmosphere, its absence of day-to-day distractions, and its large population of disaffected young men, makes it an excellent breeding ground for radicalization."

    So one wonders why America pursues a drug war policy that gives our nation a world record prison population. The Agitator blog, in May 2006, posted these prison population facts produced in the then latest edition of Drug War Facts, published by Common Sense for Drug Policy:

    • As of 2005, drug offenders accounted for 55 percent of the federal prison population. About 45 percent of them were in prison for possession, not trafficking.

    • Blacks represent about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 48 percent of the prison population. They represent just 13 percent of drug users, but 38 percent of those arrested for drug crimes, and 59 percent of those convicted.

    • When convicted of the same drug felony, blacks are about 50 percent more likely to be sentenced to prison than whites.

    Despite all of this, overall drug use in this country hasn't substantially abated.
    According to government survey data , the percentage of people reporting illicit drug use in their lifetimes rose from 31.3 percent in 1979 to 35.8 percent in 1998.

    Pat Rogers

  3. Afghanistan has a larger population than Iraq, with 31,889,923 people estimated to live there in July of 2007.

    To be understaffed for the security mission in Iraq, the US has committed almost 170,000 troops. 170,000 soldiers to unsuccessfully police a population of 22 million.

    So, put into perspective, 35,000 NATO troops are just a drop in a bucket when comparred to the numbers that would be required to provide a level of interdiction on par with the failures in Iraq to control the PKK terrorists or the militias in Basra.

    Basra, where 5,000 British troops cower in a defensive posture at the airfield, under daily indirect mortar fire.

    The size of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, less than the 37,838 officers the NYPD fields, to police a population of 8,214,426.

    This perspective, that the US in a peace time enviorment needs aproximately the same number of bodies to maintain security in a city of 8 million as the US and NATO allies have committed to a war amongst a population four and a half times as large, over a geographic range that is so large as to not even be comparable.

    Little wonder then that those NATO forces cannot make much of an impact upon criminal activities, let alone "win" a war against the natives of southern Afghanistan and the wahhabist trained miscreants staging out of Pakistan.

    After Vietnam the use of herbicides like Agent Orange lost their allure. After spraying 20 million gallons of the herbicide the health effects on humans were discovered to be long term and debilitating.
    A chemical warfare regimen that it is doubtful that Mr Karzai would submit his countrymen to.

  4. I wonder if our anti-poppy strategy in AFG is based on the Plan Colombia model?

    Seems that the results are similar...

  5. 2164th wrote:

    "It is difficult to find a life that has been improved by the habitual use of drugs. "

    Many doctors would disagree. The somewhat arbitrary lines dividing illegal and legal drugs as well as the language we use when talking about drugs is a large part of the problem. Addressing the use of drugs as opposed to their source (thought quality and purity counts) will probably yield better results then the current approach.

  6. Offenses relating to the use of illicit drugs in public spaces should mostly be confined to hefty fines. Private use and consumption of drugs is the individual's responsibility. The State has no business there.

  7. SANTA FE, N.M. (Associated Press) -- Gov. Bill Richardson ordered the state Health Department on Friday to resume planning of a medical marijuana program despite the agency's worries about possible federal prosecution.

    However, the governor stopped short of committing to implement a state-licensed production and distribution system for the drug if the potential for federal prosecution remains unchanged.

    The department announced earlier this week that it would not implement the law's provisions for the agency to oversee the production and distribution of marijuana to eligible patients. That decision came after Attorney General Gary King warned that the department and its employees could face federal prosecution for implementing the law, which took effect in July.

    The distribution and use of marijuana are illegal under federal law, and King has said federal authorities have prosecuted citizens for growing medical marijuana.

    On Friday, Richardson directed the department to plan for full implementation of the program, such as preparing the regulations that will permanently govern how it operates.

    Under the law, the department is to issue the rules by October, including for licensing marijuana producers and developing a system to distribute the drug to qualified patients.

    Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said a decision would be made later whether to implement the production and distribution system if federal prosecution remained possible.

    Gallegos said the administration was pursuing possible legal options to allow the state to provide patients with access to medical marijuana, but declined to say what.

    The new state law allows the use of marijuana for pain or other symptoms of debilitating illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS and certain spinal cord injuries.

    New Mexico is the 12th state to legalize marijuana for certain medical uses, but it's the only one calling for state-licensed production and distribution of the drug.

    Also Friday, Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, sent a letter to President Bush urging the federal government to allow states like New Mexico to implement medical marijuana programs without fear of federal prosecution.

  8. 2164th wrote:

    "It is difficult to find a life that has been improved by the habitual use of drugs. "

    I was not referring to Lipitor.

  9. There's always the Singapore option. Works for them. Got to be awfully steely to do it though.

  10. Bring back the Taliban--Here Same policy as Singapore, just kill them. Probably the only thing that would ever work. Got to be steely to do it.

    A President Romney is unlikely to end the war on drugs.

  11. I know you weren't 2164th but the generic talk of drugs doesn't help much. You really meant 'all those drugs that are bad for you'. The phrase "War on Drugs" or the marketing to kids of "Just say no to drugs" cuts a much broader swath then is intended. Lipitor and many other drugs are good when used in a controlled manner. Similarly the targeting of marijuana smokers while alcohol is legal and crack use devastating is a problem in the same category. THC is less debilitating the alcohol.

  12. Tough case to make against cigarette smokers and drunks, bob.

    Not to mention the obese that abuse food and trans-fatty acids.

    As societal standards change, the objects needing to be supressed will be subject to change, as well.

    How many smokers of marijuana would we behead, before tobacco was added to the list of illicit substances. It is just as deadly, if not more so than marijuana.

    Beer and spirits are more destructive, in real terms, than illegal drugs. Look to the numbers of DWI deaths as proof positive of the deadly effects of hops.

  13. There's a Swedish professor giving an interesting lecture over at BC. Check it out.

  14. One thing that pisses a lot of people off--say a small farmer or a mill worker playing by the rules--then some in the drug trade--not in a big way either--go by with a lot more money--the anger rises. In a democracy, or any other civil society, one should play by the rules of the game, if it is a sane game, and ours is, other wise things start to fray at the edges. Whether or not marijuana ought to be legal, one should play by the economic rules.

  15. bobal, one needs to respect the rules...

    Consider a young person who smokes some marijuana and finds it is ok, fun, and not much downside. That young person finds that they can buy an ounce, sell 3/4's of it and break even. They are also bombarded with the hysteria of the WAR ON DRUGS and the JUST SAY NO campaign. Do it out of "respect for the rules"? Nope, they learn to ignore the rules because they are stupid.

  16. Change the rules through the legislature.

    Almost all rules are 'stupid' to some.

    Under that logic, anarchy reigns, as it almost does now.

  17. I agree the lawmakers should change the rules but they don't - in fact, with zero tolerance and all, the recent past suggests they are clamping down. This does the opposite of getting young folk to live by the rules.

  18. I gotta Laugh If you scroll down to the bottom of the article, you'll notice one Doug Wilson. He a guy from my home town here, know him well. Christ Church. Started a school and 'university' here in town. He's the guy who wrote "Southern Slavery As It Was' touting all the great benefits of plantation life, to the hoots of 95% of the rest of the town. He's an ignoramus. But then so is Hitchens. Who's to choose? jeez, what a world.

    One guy wrote in to the paper, 'I too can be a deacon in Christ Church. I got a dick, and I'm ignoratnt.' Christ Church has the women in their place, you see.

  19. Wrong link. Try This
    and that's 'ignorant' above

  20. Deuce, FCEL, and DE

    You're welcome :)

  21. Bob, Deuce asked for names, yesterday, at Kudlow's, and I gave him DE, and (if he felt like a wild, and crazy type gamblin man FCEL

    Sell NOW! I want to Rest on my Laurels :)

  22. Journeying to the Mormon Heaven. From 'Life Everlasting'

    Plants and Trees

    One recurrent theme is the presence of many trees, shrubs, and rich foliage. President George Albert Smith described in this manner these trees and the beautiful lake which he saw in the spirit world in vision or in the spirit:
    "I found myself standing with my back to a large and beautiful lake, facing a great forest of trees. There was no one in sight, and there was no boat upon the lake or any other visible means to indicate how I might have arrived there. I realized, or seemed to realize, that I had finished my work in mortality and had gone home. I began to look around, to see if I could not find someone. There was no evidence of anyone living there, just those great, beautiful trees in front of me and the wonderful lake behind me.

    Elder Jacob Hamblin, who ventured into the spirit world in the summer of 1858, said,
    "The place where I was, seemed very desirable to remain in. It was divided into compartments by walls, from which appeared to grow out vines and flowers, displaying an endless variety of colors.

    Heber Q. Hale also commented on the beautiful colors of the foliage and saw that there were attractive parks there;

    "The vegetation and landscape was beautiful beyond description; not all green, as here, but gold with with warying shades of pink, orange, and lavender, as the rain-bow. A sweet calmness pervaded everything..."

    President Jedediah M. Grant commented on the beautiful flowers he saw while visiting paradise;
    "I have seen good gardens on this earth, but I never saw any to compare with those that were there. I saw flowers of numerous kinds, and some with from fifty to a hundred different colored flowers growing upon one stalk.

    Not a virgin seen yet. This is only the spirit world, the resurrection of the flesh is yet to come.

    Your intrepid traveling reporter.

  23. Slaughter on the highways from a Legal Drug
    13,000+ dead from booze.

  24. Bobal, the only death I could find in your link was in the title...all else sounded....ummmm...smmmoooooth and laaaiiiid baaaack....

    unlike the article you linked about alcohol - and that article only dealt with deaths second hand (via driving) and not on the actual physical problems that come with regular prolific consumption of the product.

  25. Was their title, Ash.

    I think all it is wasteful, one way or another.

  26. Ash won't admit some folks lives have been ruined by compulsive dope-smoking.

    Different effects on different people.

  27. What's up with Deere guys?

    (besides the stock, I mean)

  28. The great cannabis debate:
    50 top experts confirm mental health risk
    Since the 'IoS' reversed its policy on legalising cannabis because of the drug's links with mental illness, many have joined the campaign to highlight its dangers.
    Here we report on the latest findings to cause concern.

  29. Still looking for one I read where a liberal mag said they now regretted their advocacy some 30 years ago, given the new evidence they had seen.

    Very Honorable of them.
    Almost unique.

  30. ...but you didn't answer my Deere question, BobAl!

  31. I don't know what Rufus and deuce were talking about, my deere.

  32. For your LDS Research!

    John P. Pratt writes a monthly column for Meridian Magazine giving one L.D.S. perspective on current science.

    He has a Ph.D. in astronomy and specializes in religious chronology and ancient calendars.

    He has authored several articles in the Ensign and professional journals, on his website at, or in a bound volume which is now available.

  33. That one link showed Deere stock going up, up, up.

  34. London Independent Cannabis: An apology

    In 1997, this newspaper launched a campaign to decriminalise the drug. If only we had known then what we can reveal today...

  35. It seems the primary medical evidence provided in the articles is that if you have a predisposition for psychosis, primarily schizophrenia, then maybe the cannibis advances the onset of the disease. Other then doctors talking about it they refer to a Lancet article which seems to use a surveyed statistical analysis to arrive at its conclusion.