Like a Complete Unknown
From the Rolling Stone Article, “How America Lost the War on Drugs” –
The drug war, in the end, has been undone in no small part by the sweeping and inflexible nature of its own metaphor. At the beginning, in the days of Escobar, the campaign was a war as seen from the situation room, a complicated assault that spanned multiple fronts, but one which had identifiable enemies and a goal. Today, the government’s anti-drug effort resembles a war as seen from the trenches, an eternal slog, where victory seems not only unattainable but somehow beside the point. For the drug agents and veterans who busted Escobar, the last decade and a half have been a slow, agonizing history of defeat after defeat, the enemy shifting but never retreating. “You get frustrated,” Joe Toft, a former DEA country attache in Colombia, tells me. “We’ve never had a true effort where the U.S. as a whole says, ‘We’re never going to crack this problem without a real demand-reduction program.’ That’s something that’s just never happened.”
Toft, now a private security consultant, thinks back to the heady days after the fall of Escobar, the days when winning the War on Drugs seemed only a matter of dispatching more American helicopters to the Andes. “The first couple years, I had this very naive idea that I was really going to make a huge impact,” he says. “But after a while, you start realizing that without a concerted effort to reduce demand, it’s not going to happen. Over the years, I came to see my job as basically keeping the lid on the garbage can trying to sit on that lid and prevent that garbage can from overflowing. If you talk to a hundred agents, that’s what almost all of them would say. We’re just being realistic.”
The question becomes, “how do you reduce demand?” I know a few people who argue that the best way to reduce demand is to make the substance legal. But I’m not sure that drinking has lessened since prohibition was redacted. I also don’t think that the government should interfere in anything that you do to your body. Some people drink, some people starve themselves, some people play rugby, some people do drugs. I think that government regulation of illegal drugs would be much safer for a lot of people involved. I don’t know.
Either way, good article. Worth the read. Someone at Salon called it one of the best articles ever. So if my opinion isn’t enough, there you go.