For last week, I wrote about the question of who profited from the Terrors in Latin America of the late 20th century. This weeks reading brought me into a moment in which the economics of the War on Drugs were quite clear. The USA was sending huge amounts of military aid to countries or paramilitary groups that they had agreements with (or didn’t), and that money was largely being used to purchase military equipment from the USA. This, paired with our modern knowledge of drug addiction (e.g. that prohibition doesn’t help, nor does criminalization), and the complete and utter lack of success in reducing drug production or use, paints a very cynical picture. In reading, I realized I have no concrete idea as to what the actual goals of the War on Drugs are. Is it to end the production of dangerous drugs? Is the DEA going to invade Milwaukee? Simultaneously assault the Pabst, Miller, and Schlitz breweries at the crack of dawn with the news cameras rolling? What about Purdue Pharma? Where’s the manhunt? The FBI’s top ten most wanted list? The whole neighborhoods being bombed in search of a single individual, a drug kingpin, if you will? They’ve made billions of dollars off of the same (well, often stronger versions of) drugs that have routinely been met with police raids, murder, and life sentences. I’m being a bit dramatic here, admittedly, but it’s hard not to when the logic of the War on Drugs falls apart as soon as you even glance at it.
The War on Drugs is basically an American institution at this point, and it’s one of the few stable options for someone without a university degree (Police, military, etc.). I remember being told (at a very young age too) that LSD would make me jump out a window, PCP would make me eat my mother’s face, and pot would lead me right down that road in the first place. I remember people getting felonies before they’d even finished high school. I remember people getting arrested AT high school. At the end of the day, these are all ingredients of the same cynical recipe. There is a lot of profit to be made from this systemic injustice that destabilizes everyday people’s lives from Northern Canada to Southern Chile, and beyond, and that’s why it’s continued to this day. This has been a bit more of a rant than a blog post, but again, it probably should be: my formative education normalized these sort of programs as a necessary means of dealing with the ‘bad’ elements of the world. Dawson even points out a Reagan quote that essentially says: “yeah some innocent people get tied up in all this, but it’s better than DRUG PUSHERS!!! RUNNING RAMPANT!!!” It’s like a Death Wish movie, it’s utterly ridiculous, and it should be criticized at every opportunity. Cheers!
Super interesting take on this week’s topic! I totally hear you on the hypocrisy of the War on Drugs. After all these years of not being effective in decreasing drug use/commercialization and the experiences that have policies in other countries (such as Portugal), it seems like one of the main reasons the war is still going is because someone in power is profiting from it.
Hey, really interesting post! That’s a great point to bring up about what the goals of the war on drugs really are, I’m quite unsure myself. Also despite new knowledge of drug addiction/(slowly) changing societal views about addiction we have yet to see many noticeable adjustments in legal systems. This is probably because like Livia shared, those in power want to be able to keep profiting. As well, it is generally, but also unfortunately, easier to point fingers than to change the system.