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August 11, 2009
Hollow words as Obama praises Mexico’s war on drugs

President Barack Obama with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts at a trilateral meeting in Guadalajara on Monday. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

I’ve had some telling glimpses over the years of how politics and diplomacy really work. There was the time years ago when I sat in a U.S. ambassador’s office in Bolivia and listened to him brazenly giving orders to the country’s interior minister.

Or when I watched how an American official tried to cajole the president of Honduras into a military dispute with Nicaragua.

And the time when I was told that a top U.S. official was traveling to Mexico City to observe Mexico’s drug interdiction program.

“What drug interdiction program?” a confused Mexican government spokesman asked me. I had gotten advance warning of the visit. “We don’t have a drug interdiction program.”

Five minutes later, the same Mexican spokesman called me back and said — without a trace of irony — that I was invited to attend a meeting between U.S. and Mexican officials who would be discussing Mexico’s “drug interdiction program.” It had somehow materialized.

Those anecdotes are the product of the last century, but I was reminded this week that things haven’t changed much.

The U.S. government arrogantly figures that the governments of other countries can meet the imposed values that the United States expects. One can respect the people of Mexico and honor that country’s heritage and sense of pride, but still say: The Mexican government is over-gunned by drug dealers and will not be able to stop the violence and out-of-bounds profits earned by the narcotics trade.

For some sense of the absurdity of the fight, have a look at the New York Times story about Mexican prisons, headlined: War Without Borders: Mexico’s Drug Traffickers Continue Trade in Prison

The cycle of violence and death waxes and wanes, but the reality hasn’t changed for decades; there is too much money in drug dealing to stop the industry. Drug cartels practically own the Mexican prisons where they are held. Plagued by corruption, drug producing nations have been unable over the years to control the production and flow of illegal narcotics.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon won praise from President Obama this week during the annual North American summit in Mexico:

We will work to make sure Mexico has the support it needs to dismantle and defeat the cartels.  And the United States will also meet its responsibilities by continuing our efforts to reduce the demand for drugs and continuing to strengthening the security of our shared border — not only to protect the American people, but to stem the illegal southbound flow of American guns and cash that helps fuel this extraordinary violence.

I have to say that the words are mighty, but if history is a guide the U.S. Congress will do little if anything to halt the sale of guns southward. And the United States has not shown signs of augmenting Mexican security efforts to the degree needed. International money laundering of drug trafficking  appears beyond control. I’d love to end up being surprised that I’m wrong.

A must-read to see the depths of the problem is an extensive report in the Washington Post by my old colleagues Steve Fainaru and Bill Booth.

This paragraph sums it up:

Beyond the reach of the U.S. and Mexican governments in their fight against drug traffickers is an intimate, complex world of communal violence and crippled institutions. At the center of the drug war is Michoacan, a rugged, rural state in the southwest where all forms of traditional authority — city hall, the military, police and even the Catholic Church — have been unable to protect the people against the assassinations, kidnappings and extortions associated with the narcotics trade.

The United States has acknowledged the obvious many times: that U.S. consumption of drugs is a driving part of the problem of the international narcotics trade. But no politician in the United States will seriously consider drug decriminalization, or broad social programs and education that will change the formula of drug consumption, or laws that — heaven forfend — would curtail gun sales.

The promises are all words, and nothing changes.

– Peter Eisner

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Debaters debate the two wars as if Nixon’s civil war on Woodstock Nation didn’t yet run amok. One needn’t travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights or to Cuba for political prisoners. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals, and non-whites under banner of the war on drugs. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance credibility.

The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as lives are flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. In God’s eyes, it’s all good (Gen.1:12). The administration claims it wants to reduce demand for cartel product, but extraditing Canadian seed vendor Marc Emery increases demand. Mr. Emery enables American farmers to steal cartel customers with superior domestic product.

The constitutionality of the CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) derives from an interstate commerce clause. This clause is invoked to finance organized crime, endanger homeland security, and throw good money after bad. Official policy is to eradicate, not tax, the number-one cash crop in the land. America rejected prohibition, but it’s back. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

Nixon promised the Schafer Commission would support the criminalization of his enemies, but it didn’t. No matter, the witch-hunt was on. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA halted all research. Marijuana has no medical use, period.

The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. Denial of entheogen sacrament to any American, for mediation of communion with his or her maker, precludes the free exercise of religious liberty.

Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

Common-law must hold that adults own their bodies. The Founding Fathers decreed the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration.

Simple majorities in each house could put repeal of the CSA on the president’s desk. The books have ample law on them without the CSA. The usual caveats remain in effect. You are liable for damages when you screw up. Strong medicine requires prescription. Employees can be fired for poor job performance. No harm, no foul; and no excuse, either. Replace the war on drugs with a frugal, constitutional, science-based drugs policy.


Were the US and Europe to legalise the consuption of coca leaf, as in most Andean countries, with occasional dependency (though nothing like that attached to alcohol) and no addiction that I’ve ever heard of, selling the leaves for around 4 or $5 per small bag, the cocaine trade would be decimated if not wiped out.It would be too expensive for consumers to make their own cocaine unless they want to do it for about an increase in cost of 1000s of % (you need sacks full to make even a small bag’s worth) so domestic production would be completely unfeasible.The leaves are widely considered to be a pretty healthy, mild stimulant which would also compete with coffee so coffee growers and manufacturers might have genuine cause to oppose such a move, but few others.
There you go.Coca legalised and most cocaine gone overnight, much as the proliferation of taurine type energy drinks has done to amphetemines in the UK.Gone, more or less completely.
Of course they’d never do it because they need to justify their interventions in latin america, and this is never really about drugs as we all know, but about keeping the latin poor in their place by whatever means necessary.


Obama doesn’t really care. He selected a Sec. of Homeland Security that isn’t capable of the job and did that on purpose. He wants the people in the RED states to suffer for voting against him.


Indeed hollow words that won’t change a thing.


The game is the game

Peter Eisner is an editorial consultant with Worldfocus and a 30-year veteran of international news. He has been an editor and foreign correspondent at The Washington Post, Newsday and The Associated Press. He co-authored “The Italian Letter,” which details fraudulent intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. He was founder and president of Newscom, an international online news service, and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

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