A good step, probably not a breakthrough Can’t accuse him of pandering
Dec 102007

I strongly recommend taking the time to read Ben Wallace-Wells’ phenomenal 15,000-word piece on “How America Lost the War on Drugs,”in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

Yes, Rolling Stone is principally a music magazine, one whose tastes may not be your own. (They actually claim that Bob Dylan and the Red Hot Chili Peppers made the two best albums of 2006.) But the magazine occasionally publishes some excellent investigative work, and this is a great example. Slate Editor Jack Shafer is absolutely right to call Wallace-Wells’ article “the smartest drug story of the year.”

It is based on months of interviews with people involved in all aspects of U.S. drug policy. Its conclusions are devastating.

This is the story of how that momentary success turned into one of the most sustained and costly defeats the United States has ever suffered. It is the story of how the most powerful country on Earth, sensing a piñata, swung to hit it and missed. …

All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs – with very little to show for it. Cocaine is now as cheap as it was when [Pablo] Escobar died and more heavily used. Methamphetamine, barely a presence in 1993, is now used by 1.5 million Americans and may be more addictive than crack. We have nearly 500,000 people behind bars for drug crimes – a twelvefold increase since 1980 – with no discernible effect on the drug traffic. Virtually the only success the government can claim is the decline in the number of Americans who smoke marijuana – and even on that count, it is not clear that federal prevention programs are responsible.

Even though CIP’s work on Colombia has made me a critic of the drug war for a long time now, Wallace-Wells uncovers many pieces of the drug-war narrative that I didn’t know about. Here are a few excerpts showing a few things I learned – but if you have time, do read the entire article instead.

1. Serious studies of how to fight the United States’ drug problem, based on years of data collection, began in the mid-1990s. Even when carried out by “conservative” think-tanks, these studies pointed in a very different direction from the current policy: treatment of addicts at home. But they were ignored.

[A]fter [Pablo] Escobar was killed in 1993 – and after U.S. drug agents began systematically busting up the Colombian cartels – doubt was replaced with hard data. Thanks to new research, U.S. policy-makers knew with increasing certainty what would work and what wouldn’t. The tragedy of the War on Drugs is that this knowledge hasn’t been heeded. …

[President Clinton’s first “drug czar,” Lee] Brown’s staff became intrigued by a new study on drug policy from the RAND Corp., the Strangelove-esque think tank that during the Cold War had employed mathematicians to crank out analyses for the Pentagon. Like Lockheed Martin, the jet manufacturer that had turned to managing welfare reform after the Cold War ended, RAND was scouting for other government projects that might need its brains. It found the drug war. The think tank assigned Susan Everingham, a young expert in mathematical modeling, to help run the group’s signature project: dividing up the federal government’s annual drug budget of $13 billion into its component parts and deciding what worked and what didn’t when it came to fighting cocaine.

Everingham and her team sorted the drug war into two categories. There were supply-side programs, like the radar and ships in the Caribbean and the efforts to arrest traffickers in Colombia and Mexico, which were designed to make it more expensive for traffickers to bring their product to market. There were also demand-side programs, like drug treatment, which were designed to reduce the market for drugs in the United States. To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each approach, the mathematicians set up a series of formulas to calculate precisely how much additional money would have to be spent on supply programs and demand programs to reduce cocaine consumption by one percent nationwide.

“If you had asked me at the outset,” Everingham says, “my guess would have been that the best use of taxpayer money was in the source countries in South America” – that it would be possible to stop cocaine before it reached the U.S. But what the study found surprised her. Overseas military efforts were the least effective way to decrease drug use, and imprisoning addicts was prohibitively expensive. The only cost-effective way to put a dent in the market, it turned out, was drug treatment. “It’s not a magic bullet,” says [Peter] Reuter, the RAND scholar who helped supervise the study, “but it works.” The study ultimately ushered RAND, this vaguely creepy Cold War relic, into a position as the permanent, pragmatic left wing of American drug policy, the most consistent force for innovating and reinventing our national conception of the War on Drugs.

When Everingham’s team looked more closely at drug treatment, they found that thirteen percent of hardcore cocaine users who receive help substantially reduced their use or kicked the habit completely. They also found that a larger and larger portion of illegal drugs in the U.S. were being used by a comparatively small group of hardcore addicts. There was, the study concluded, a fundamental imbalance: The crack epidemic was basically a domestic problem, but we had been fighting it more aggressively overseas. “What we began to realize,” says Jonathan Caulkins, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who studied drug policy for RAND, “was that even if you only get a percentage of this small group of heavy drug users to abstain forever, it’s still a really great deal.”

Thirteen years later, the study remains the gold standard on drug policy. “It’s still the consensus recommendation supplied by the scholarship,” says Reuter. “Yet as well as it’s stood up, it’s never really been tried.”

[The RAND study is available online.]

2. President Clinton’s first “drug czar,” former New York City Police Chief Lee Brown, tried to move in this direction in 1993-1994, but was thwarted for being perceived as “too soft” on drugs.

The Clinton administration asked him to take the drug-czar post, and though Brown was skeptical, he agreed on the condition that the White House make it a Cabinet-level position. Brown stacked his small office with liberals who had spent the long Democratic exile doing drug-policy work for Congress and swearing they would improve things when they retook power. …

To Brown, RAND’s conclusions seemed exactly right. “I saw how little we were doing to help addicts, and I thought, ‘This is crazy,’ ” he recalls. ” ‘This is how we should be breaking the cycle of addiction and crime, and we’re just doing nothing.’ ”

The federal budget that Brown’s office submitted in 1994 remains a kind of fetish object for certain liberals in the field, the moment when their own ideas came close to making it into law. The budget sought to cut overseas interdiction, beef up community policing, funnel low-level drug criminals into treatment programs instead of prison, and devote $355 million to treating hardcore addicts, the drug users responsible for much of the illegal-drug market and most of the crime associated with it. White House political handlers, wary of appearing soft on crime, were skeptical of even this limited commitment, but Brown persuaded the president to offer his support, and the plan stayed.

Still, the politics of the issue were difficult. Convincing Congress to dramatically alter the direction of America’s drug war required a brilliant sales job. “And Lee Brown,” says Bergman, his former legislative liaison, “was not an effective salesman.” With a kind of loving earnestness, the drug czar arranged tours of treatment centers for congressmen to show them the kinds of programs whose funding his bill would increase. Few legislators came. Most politicians were skeptical about such a radical departure from the mainstream consensus on crime. Congress rewrote the budget, slashing the $355 million for treatment programs by more than eighty percent. “There were too many of us who had a strong law-and-order focus,” says Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican who ­opposed the reform bill and serves as co-chair of the Senate’s drug-policy caucus.

For some veteran drug warriors, Brown’s tenure as drug czar still lingers as the last moment when federal drug policy really made sense. “Lee Brown came the closest of anyone to really getting it,” says Carnevale, the longtime budget director of the drug-control office. “But the bottom line was, the drug issue and Lee Brown were largely ignored by the Clinton administration.” When Brown tried to repeat his treatment-centered initiative in 1995, it was poorly timed: Newt Gingrich and the Republicans had seized control of the House after portraying Clinton as soft on crime. The authority to oversee the War on Drugs passed from Rep. John Conyers, the Detroit liberal, to a retired wrestling coach from Illinois who was tired of drugs in the schools – a rising Republican star named Dennis Hastert. Reeling from the defeat at the polls, Clinton decided to give up on drug reform and get tough on crime.

3. The article includes some intriguing details about how Mexican cartels increased their involvement during the mid-1990s.

The remaining leaders of the weakened Cali cartel, DEA agents say, traveled up to Guadalajara for a series of meetings with Mexican traffickers. By 1996, the Colombians had decided to hand over more control of the cocaine trade to the Mexicans. The Cali cartel would now ship cocaine to Guadalajara, sell the drugs to the Mexican groups and then be done with it. “This wasn’t just happenstance,” says Jerome McArdle, then a DEA assistant agent for special operations. “This was the Colombians saying they were willing to reduce their profits in exchange for reducing their risk and exposure, and handing it over to the Mexicans. The whole nature of the supply chain changed.”

Around the same time, DEA agents found themselves picking up Mexican distributors, rather than Colombians, on the streets of New York. Immigration and customs officials on the border were meanwhile overwhelmed by the sheer number of tractor-trailers – many of them loaded with drugs – suddenly pouring across the Mexican border as a consequence of NAFTA, which had been enacted in 1994. …

Mexican officials along the border, whose PRI party had kept a lock on national power for seventy years, allowed traffickers to move their product in exchange for reduced violence. “In order to coexist, the government looked the other way as long as the cartels didn’t wreak havoc in the country,” says Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, director of the Mexico Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It became somewhat of a safety valve in terms of dealing with organized crime, as a way of mitigating the political instability.” Though the U.S. government pushed Mexican officials to crack down on corruption, its pleas and threats went largely unheeded. By 1997, Carrillo Fuentes – the Lord of the Skies – was moving tons of cocaine across the border every year and had amassed a fortune worth $25 billion. But that same year, Carrillo Fuentes died on an operating table in Mexico City, where he had been undergoing plastic surgery to change his appearance and avoid detection: In the ghoulish post-mortem photographs, his face is speckled like a snake’s skin, two shades of brown and one of pink. Juárez fell into a testy, three-way competition for control of the drug trade, and the murders took on a symbolic vocabulary of their own: Tortured victims piled in oil barrels filled with concrete and buried alive, members of opposing cartels murdered and left to rot in car trunks in their own neighborhoods, snitches killed and left on the side of the road. The violence between cartels is so pervasive, Payan says, “if you move into a home in Juárez, you will never know whether there’s a body underneath the floor in your dining room.”

At the beginning of the Bush administration, it looked like Mexico might actually begin to bust corrupt cops who did business with drug smugglers. In 2000, when Vicente Fox, the reforming, conservative rancher and friend of George W. Bush, took power, he began prosecuting dirty police officers, throwing tens of thousands of them off the force. “There were unintended consequences,” says Peter Andreas, a Brown University professor who has studied drug trafficking along the border. “Many of the corrupt cops went to work in the drug trade” – a shift in power that had the effect of professionalizing the violence. In addition, an estimated 90,000 Mexican soldiers deserted during the Fox administration, many of them signing up with the cartels.

4. Clinton’s second “drug czar,” Gen. Barry McCaffrey, ended up squandering much of his political capital in a crusade against medical marijuana.

McCaffrey had taken the drug war in a new direction, one that had little obvious connection with preventing drug abuse. For the first time, the full force of the federal government was being brought to bear on patients dying from terminal diseases. Even the General’s allies in Congress were appalled. “I can’t tell you how many times I went to the Hill with him and sat in on closed-doors meetings,” Bergman recalls. “Members said to him, ‘What in the world are you doing? We have real drug problems in the country with meth and cocaine. What the hell are you doing with medical marijuana? We get no calls from our constituents about that. Nobody cares about that.’ McCaffrey was just mystified by their response, because he truly believed marijuana was a gateway drug. He truly believed in what he was doing.”

5. Republican drug warriors pushed the Clinton administration toward introducing the mostly military “Plan Colombia” aid package by floating their own, even more military, proposal in 1999. (We have never seen this document.)

Rand Beers of the State Department and Charlie Wilhelm of the Defense Department … had gotten a call from the Republican caucus on the Hill. Dennis Hastert, who had been elevated to Speaker of the House six months earlier, wanted to see them right away. “It was kind of unusual,” Beers recalls – but when Hastert called, you came.

When Beers and Wilhelm arrived, Rep. Porter Goss, then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, handed them a piece of paper. It was a copy of a supplemental spending authorization that the Republicans planned to offer immediately. Crafted by Bobby Charles, Hastert’s longtime aide, the bill would have more than doubled military aid to Colombia to take on the rebels and narcotraffickers -to a staggering $1.2 billion a year. But it was the politics of the situation that worried Beers as much as the money. “It occurred to me that if the administration was going to do anything on Colombia, it better do it soon,” he says now, “or the Republicans would once again outflank what they perceived as the I-never-inhaled Clinton administration.” Beers told the Republicans he would take a look, and then hurried to [National Security Advisor Sandy] Berger’s meeting. …

Berger decided to act. Rather than oppose the Republican plan, he agreed to negotiate on an assistance package to bail out the Colombian government. The result was Plan Colombia – nearly $1.6 billion to escalate the War on Drugs in the Andes. The new program would arm the military and police in their fight against the FARC, launch an ambitious effort to spray herbicide on coca crops from the air and provide economic assistance to poor farmers in rural villages. The initial aid, officials decided, would be heavily concentrated in Putumayo, a rebel-run province in the jungle.

No one is sure what convinced President Clinton to approve such an ambitious escalation in the War on Drugs. But some observers at the time speculated that the critical factor was a conversation with Sen. Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat, whose state is home to the helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft. In early 2000, Clinton unveiled Plan Colombia – and Sikorksy promptly received an order for eighteen of its Blackhawk helicopters at a cost of $15 million each. “Much has been made of the notion that this was Dodd looking to sell Blackhawks to Colombia,” Beers tells me. He pauses before adding, “I am not in a position to tell you it didn’t happen.”

6. In 2000-2001, the incoming Bush administration actually supported more emphasis on drug treatment at home. This ended, however, with the nomination of John Walters to be Bush’s “drug czar.”

This was a strange moment in the politics of the drug war: Just as the Clinton administration was toughening its rhetoric, influential Republicans were going all soft and gentle. John DiIulio, a political scientist from the University of Pennsylvania who would become a key Bush adviser, was disgusted by the “perverse consequences” of harsh sentencing laws that had put millions of young Americans in prison, disbelieved the “sweeping scientific claims” made about the dangers of medical marijuana and wanted to expand “meaningful drug-treatment opportunities in urban areas.” … But it did seem, for a moment during the 2000 campaign, as if some moderation were possible.

Three months later, when the Bush campaign released its drug policy, even the most experienced drug warriors were impressed. The platform balanced spending between demand- and ­supply-side programs, stressed treatment and doubled the number of community anti-drug coalitions. …

“If you look back at that campaign document, it really is pretty impressive,” says Carnevale, who ended up heading the drug office’s transition team for the Bush administration. “Which is kind of remarkable, given what happened next. They’ve appointed a drug czar who ran like hell from a very sensible policy.”

It took Bush nearly a year to pick his drug czar, and almost no one felt encouraged by his choice: John Walters, a laconic Midwesterner who had served as Bill Bennett’s chief of staff during the administration of George H.W. Bush. “We all knew who Walters was,” one longtime drug warrior tells me, “but he wasn’t what you would call an inspiring figure, even to conservatives.” When Walters submitted his first National Drug Control Strategy to Bush in February 2002, it became clear that the administration’s focus had narrowed: Walters was devoted to Plan Colombia and to a prevention campaign that would keep kids from trying drugs for the first time, aimed particularly at marijuana – even though the number of first-time pot smokers had been flat for half a decade. Longtime drug warriors like Carnevale were stunned. “We were going back to an Eighties-style drug policy,” he says – one that emphasized the kind of military and law-and-order programs that had been proven not to work, while ignoring programs, particularly treatment, that did. …

By the summer of 2005, the drug czar’s failures were beginning to spill out into the open. For four years, while he focused obsessively on pot, Walters had done virtually nothing about meth, which was rapidly devastating the red states that had elected his boss.

7. The current environment is increasingly favorable for a change in U.S. drug policy, as localities experiment with new approaches. Without support from the top levels of government, however, change is unlikely.

In recent years, there have been flickers of political progress that suggest America’s drug policy is ready for a historic shift. Democrats in both the House and Senate have voted to cut proposed funding for Plan Colombia and have pushed for hearings on sentencing reform. As the politics of crime and drugs have lost their power to move votes, some conservatives, including Republican senators Jeff Sessions and Sam Brownback, have begun to question the logic of mandatory-minimum sentences. “There is a more promising environment for drug-policy reform than at any time since the Carter administration,” says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance and one of the country’s foremost critics of the drug war.

But despite their evident success, the most forward-looking programs remain buried at the fringes of drug policy, featured not in the president’s budgets but in academic journals and water-cooler talk in cities like High Point [North Carolina, where a community policing approach has reduced violence, though drug dealing continues]. Experimentation at the community level is more imaginative than programs that are federally sanctioned. “We haven’t had the kind of national leadership that blesses this and encourages it,” says Caulkins, the RAND researcher from Carnegie ­Mellon. “So this kind of innovation stays below the radar.” Thirty-five years after Richard Nixon launched the War on Drugs, the most promising ­programs continue to be shunted aside by Washington’s unswerving emphasis on law and order.

15 Responses to “Rolling Stone on “How America Lost the War on Drugs””

  1. jcg Says:

    I had browsed through this article earlier in the month. It has several things I didn’t know about either, especially as far as the U.S. side of things is concerned. I had read about the RAND study elsewhere though.

    It’s an interesting and very detailed piece, but it could use a not-insignificant amount of clean-up and filling up a few holes or questionable assessments (say, claiming that FARC “had been laying siege to the Colombian government”).

    Granted, I’ll admit that’s to be expected, given that the main focus is the U.S. and not Colombia, but I can’t really ignore it either.

    Even so, a few details aside, I think the article gets the big picture right, as far as I’m concerned.

  2. SJH Says:

    I’ve seen a great deal of these arguments in different places but never before so carefully and finely packaged. Excellent, excellent article. And I won’t quibble with the details (about Colombia, Mexico). This is an article about the American experience and how politics and illusion create bad policy and continue bad policy long after it’s been proven bad.

    Can anyone say Cuba?

  3. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Rodrigo Lara Restrepo, Lara Bonilla’s Son resigned today to his Anti-Corruption Czar position, after The New Herald unearthed a declaration by his father’s sister from 1984, telling the prosecutors that Mr Lara Bonilla knew about the connections of Mr Uribe Velez and his father Mr Uribe Sierra with the mafia. That’s big news. Of course, nowhere to be found.

  4. jcg Says:

    Jaime Bustos: Not really…just heard that a few minutes ago on Caracol Radio. It’s already on the radio and will probably show up in other sources later, if it hasn’t by now. Haven’t checked.

    Other than that, it would be interesting to know specifically what Rodrigo Lara Restrepo thinks about this in his own words, because the resignation doesn’t automatically mean he shares all your thoughts about this (even open Uribe critics such as María Jimena Duzán, are analyzing this in a somewhat different manner than what you said earlier…).

  5. Jaime Bustos Says:

    jcg, I don’t really know why you play devil’s advocate with every surfacing Mr. Uribe’s antics.

    This is not the only news that involves Colombia president with narcotraffic or paramilitarism. His brother has a suspended investigation on paramilitarism his cousin is being investigated in the parapolitics scandal. Several books mention his close friendship with Pablo Escobar and even a US DIA report lists him as a Medellin Cartel Kingpin, etc. Of course everything has been followed by a declaration of mr Uribe refusing all connections thereupon. Me? me, I don’t believe a single word he says.

  6. jcg Says:

    Simply because I usually don’t like taking the “easy road”, nor always painting things with a wide brush. It would be extremely easy to assume a completely anti- or pro-Uribe position in *all* fields and with no nuances, with no comments and no criticisms in either direction, but I find that doesn’t really reflect reality that well. Reality is a lovely puzzle with many pieces, in my opinion.

    Happy with that? If not, sorry. I’m not going to shut up, but I won’t shut you up either. Again, while I may not share several of your opinions and interpret now, I’m willing to change my mind in the future. I don’t see what’s so bad about that.

  7. Jaime Bustos Says:

    It’s ok, I don’t have no beef with you man. Just wondering how many enoughs will be enough for you. Take it easy. ;-)

  8. Kyle Says:

    I have to agree with jcg in that many pieces of circumstantial, with the occasional more-solid, pieces of evidence do not automatically lead to one conclusion. Second of all, it is also a matter of fairness. A man who lies 99% of the time is not automatically lying the next time he speaks. Of course there is a lot of information that should lead to some more investigation, but for now we can say there is a lot of evidence that would lead one to make the jump to your conclusion Jaime, but the issue is, how sure are we? Are there any holes in this case? If so, what are they? I tend to agree that Uribe has many suspicious connections, though not totally direct, to narcos and paracos, but I cannot say that he is connected. I can only say that the evidence exists. In the future, if someone decides to get on this case, he/she will have a hard time arriving to conclusion as final and 100% accurate; in the mean time, we can only debate. Even if you are actually correct in the end, which is a possibility, we cannot be dubious and irresponsible now. Maybe we should wait on the news bit you posted to evolve; that could get us somewhere.
    On the post about the Rolling Stone article, working in a gas station, I was able to read it over a couple nights. I too was surprised about the wide-breadth and in-depth reporting of the article. I learned some new things, and picked up some minor detail errors about Colombia, but was also able to understand why errors were made or words were chosen. But that’s OK. I believe it was Men’s Vogue who had a piece not too long ago on the current hostage situation in Colombia. It had many small errors, but I’m picky; still I let it slide some. Even Maxim had a piece on Colombia sometime this fall. Again it had many small errors, but again I’m very picky. I also don’t expect these people to spend extended periods of time debating methodologies, whose statistics to use and careful word choice. It seems that Wallace did do that to a much larger extent than other authors. Maybe Wallace could get a job at the NY Times who just issued a correction for a story about Tayrona National Park that claimed only 100 kidnappings have happened this year, despite numerous official sources putting the number much higher, at either 383 or 470. I could not even find an official source claiming lower than either of those. Who knows?
    Back on topic, at least now some music fans know about the War on Drugs and Colombia, and so I’m happy about that. Overall, great article, especially considering the source. Maybe it’ll even make the WoD, Colombia, Mexico, etc an issue in the elections, though, I feel that that is quite far-fetched.
    Oddly enough, now that I think of it, Maxim once did a piece about the Nasa indigenous’ Coca-Sek, in which they traveled to Cauca to try it out. They also traveled to Cali to cover the nightlife there too. I’m not sure how many readers chose to read that article over some scantily-clad women though. Somehow, the editors at least do not mind mixing stories of poverty, indigenous issues, and war with good ol’ fashioned nightlife reviews and stories about exotic beautiful women…

  9. Sergio Méndez Says:

    I think Jaime has a point. The point seems that everything that sourrounds Uribe seems to be connected with paramilitarism. His family, his political allies, his position as a landlord in Cordoba – a paramilitary department par excelence if there is any- , his own ideological bvackground….I am not saying that it is a PROOF that Uribe is connected with paramilitaries. But don´t you think there is a reasonable case to be very suspicious?

  10. Sergio Méndez Says:

    On the other side…I question the logic of those who want to end the war on drugs cause it is a failure. What if the war on drugs was succesfull…will that make it OK?

  11. Kyle Says:

    Yes, there is a case to be suspicious at least. But we cannot come to solid conclusions yet. I may have mis-spoken or at least not been clear enough. I wouldn’t argue to a complete ending of the war on drugs, just a shift in how it is fought.

  12. jcg Says:

    Sergio: Many reasons for being suspicious exist, but there are also such things as degrees and nuances. When a verdict has to be made, those degrees and nuances should be extremely important, don’t you think? Opinions are opinions, and everyone can have one of those, but a real verdict can’t be based on opinion alone.

    The point is that not all accusations are equal or, for that matter, equally valid. 90%, 75%, 50% or 25% of them could be, for example. Even the worst criminals have different degrees of guilt and may be innocent in some specific cases.

    Which is why I think there’s a need to take a closer look and not jump to conclusions, when not all the information is available. I think that one has to consider as much information as possible, not just that which happens to agree with a personal point of view. I don’t like Uribe, his family, his past, most of his allies, many of his policies and and so forth. I could easily conclude “send him to Hell and throw away the key”, forgetting about all this, but I still feel a less passionate look is needed.

    As for the war on drugs, if it were actually successful we’d have to seriously consider if the benefits of finally eradicating the drug trade would be enough to compensate for the side-effects of the war. We can’t really do that now, however.

    I personally do want to end the war on drugs, someday at least, but I realize that a better strategy has a more realistic chance of being implemented in the meanwhile, plus it should be less damaging and counter-productive.

  13. Sergio Méndez Says:


    Is not simply that we have many reasons to be suspicious of Uribe, many of them wich go beyond unproved accusations (we KNOW for a fact that his closest political allies are connected to paramilitarism and we know Uribe has not done anything to distance himself from them). The point is that not only we have large ammounts ofevidence, but more importantly, that all points exactly in the same sense in a very coherent maner.

    Concerning the war on drugs, you say that we don´t know if it was sucessfull it will compensate its side effects. But that is irrelevant for what I am asking. What I am saying is that if it is OK to have a war on drugs even if it was succesfull and IT HAD NOT side effects (do it as mental experiment). I will say, no, because it will imply to violate the essential liberties of to many individuals in the process, regardless of its results

  14. jcg Says:

    Sergio Méndez: “we KNOW for a fact that his closest political allies are connected to paramilitarism and we know Uribe has not done anything to distance himself from them”

    For the most part, yes. And that’s one of the several reasons I don’t support Uribe.

    That’s indeed one of the “many (different) accusations”, one which I hadn’t even addressed during this discussion, because it concerned a separate matter.

    “The point is that not only we have large ammounts ofevidence, but more importantly, that all points exactly in the same sense in a very coherent maner.”

    The real problem here is the nature of the evidence you speak of and how it can be interpreted.

    Much of what you consider to be evidence is circumstantial. As such, it’s entirely possible to add other details and the context that surrounds them to the discussion, in different but valid ways. There is more than one explanation, depending on each case.

    If you only want to consider one possibility, one line of thought, and nothing else, then yes, any of our personal interpretation can make everything “very coherent” in “exactly the same sense”. That’s perfectly acceptable.

    But everyone else has a right to have different interpretations, whether they are 90%, 75%, 50% or 25% similar to yours, depending on the specific issue under discussion.

    I don’t think I have the only “correct” interpretation regarding each of the accusations, not at all, but probably neither do you, most likely.

    “Concerning the war on drugs, you say that we don´t know if it was sucessfull it will compensate its side effects. But that is irrelevant for what I am asking. What I am saying is that if it is OK to have a war on drugs even if it was succesfull and IT HAD NOT side effects (do it as mental experiment). I will say, no, because it will imply to violate the essential liberties of to many individuals in the process, regardless of its results”

    Well, that’s a valid opinion. But if you remove all the side effects, you’re probably also removing many of the worst violations of essential liberties, or at least rendering many of them superfluous.

    In short, if it were physically possible to prevent people from distributing and consuming drugs, it could indeed be a preferable outcome for the health of the human race as a whole, even if the concept itself still requires restricting some personal freedom.

    But going back to reality, I don’t think that’s possible. I accept that people will still be able to distribute and consume drugs, because it’s not possible to directly prevent them from doing so. The state, therefore, shouldn’t really try to wage a “war” it cannot win, in my opinion, but in the meanwhile it should at least improve its tactics and correct its mistakes.

  15. Mike Johnson Says:

    Colombia and Colombians are the best country and folks in this planet, for me
    personal possesion of any and all drugs, [ummmmm natura is coke,weed, and poppy] is not illegal in Colombia, the police have better stuff to do
    NOT pills, like the drug dealing doctor sin USA, they are the worst contributors to the mindset in usa

    Dyncorp ,Halliburton and of course US military are getting the drugs in, what do you think is kepping Wall Street afloat? bush’s afganistan crap and opium production

    wake up ’sheeples’
    HEMP is the only future for ALL American farmers, north,central and south and best fuel for my poor fishermen in biodisel engines we are retrofitting to beach launched boats
    HEMP seed oil is the only lubricant used in jet engines 2000 degrees!!

    ask about Kaht in middle east, and beetle nut use in Asia

    what hypocrisy is USA

    cannot wait till FMLN is in El Salvador and Mr Chazez cuts off oil to USA for Latin America use ONLY!

    too late always
    well, what can you expect now from arrogant,greedy,ignorant[yes, 20th in world or less in education] OBESE, xenophobic walmart loving americans?

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