Term Paper: Columbian Drug Trade if Americans

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[. . .] (It should perhaps be noted that the war on drugs has also waxed and waned.)

The reasons for this merger between these two wars are intriguing and not always entirely rational. One of the reasons is the ideological bent of the current administration: Conservative regimes are more likely to equate the drug trade with the most serious social problems such as terrorism. (Liberals would be far more inclined to treat drugs as a lesser problem.)

Robyn Blumer, writing last December in the St. Petersburg Times described this collision of wars that are of course not really wars at all:

As the United States wages a war on two fronts, against both terrorism and drugs, Ethan Nadelmann poses a fair question of priorities. "Which white powder do we want the government looking for," asks Nadelmann, executive director of the Lindesmith Center, a non-profit drug policy organization. "Do we want them focused on anthrax or do we want them focused on cocaine?"

Our profligate $50-billion-per-year drug war is certainly diverting potential resources from our fight against terrorism. But what worries Nadelmann even more is the way these two wars are converging. He believes that in the near future all of the law enforcement and military infrastructure we have built to investigate and prevent terrorist activities will be incorporated into the war on drugs (http://www.globalexchange.org/colombia/spTimes120201.html).

This is a very important point: The war on drugs (primarily those coming from Colombia) and the war on terrorism are currently linked in American political debate because the same political philosophy supports both and the same governmental infrastructural tools and strategies can be used in both of these wars.

The U.S. government is in fact currently engaged in trying to link the war on drugs with the war on terrorism in the mind of the public - not just in the sense that the two are both evils that are currently facing American society and polity but in the sense that there are actual, direct connections between the two.

Such a claim was made in that most American of all fora, the Superbowl:

The two Super Bowl ads, which cost nearly $3.5 million to place during the widely watched Fox television broadcast, claim that money to purchase drugs likely ends up in the hands of terrorists and narco-criminals (http://www.washingtonpost.com/).

What is most striking to many observers of the current combination of these two social and political wars is that the Taliban was itself associated with drug production - which became a mark against them after 9/11 but was no impediment to U.S. support of the Taliban when the group was seen as opposing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the drug office contacted Ogilvy, an agency it ha worked with before, asking for ideas on how to link the war on drugs to terrorism in an ad campaign. The drug office knew that the Taliban was partially funded by sales of opium, which can be refined into heroin. What followed, said British film and commercial director Tony Kaye, who produced the ads, was 'unprecedented' fact-checking between the drug office and government agencies, including the FBI, DEA, CIA, and the departments of Defense and State. Details down to the price of AK-47 assault rifles, featured in one of the ads, were debated (http://www.washingtonpost.com/).

Critics of the administration have argued that the war on terrorism is being used to punish Americans whom the administration would like to punish but could not do under existing drug laws. Suggesting (as the above described ads do) that Americans who use drugs are morally the same as terrorists is a politically motivated act.

The ads are factually misleading: they blame drugs and nonviolent Americans for terror funding, when, in fact, the drug war itself is responsible for creating the illegal markets that generate those funds. Blaming Americans for funding terrorism is like blaming alcohol consumers in the 1920s for Al Capone's violence (http://www.theantidrugwar.com/).

What is the relationship between Colombian drugs coming in to the United States and the war on terrorism? The answer depends very much on whom once asks. Members of the government who have wanted to increase penalties for drug use for years tend to argue that there should be harsher sanctions for U.S. drug users as well as against those nations that export drugs.

More liberal members of the government argue that the connection between drugs and terrorism is tentative at best and - moreover - even if there is a connection then this fact (which touches on actions taken by U.S. citizens) should not be used as an excuse to punish poorer nations like Colombia. (Bearing in mind that if the United States were to sanction countries like Colombia because of their supplying drugs to the United States, this may well damage the Colombian economy to the extent that Colombians begin to grow more coca and marijuana.

The reality of the connection between drugs and terrorism - and the war on drugs and the war terrorism - is in fact complicated and confusing:

Not all drug warriors are reading from that same script. The Florida Ledger reported on Oct. 19, 2001 (www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1793/a12.html" "After Attacks, Drug Smuggling Tougher") that "In tightening security to counter terrorism, Florida is putting the squeeze on drug smugglers. The state's drug czar, Jim McDonough, on Thursday assured a gathering of Polk County business, civic and law enforcement leaders that the rising price of drugs like cocaine was evidence of a withering drug trade."

The Ledger reports that "Beefed-up security at airports, seaports and border crossings has reduced the flow of hard drugs, such as cocaine, which now costs an average $26,000 per kilo, up from $18,000 to $19,000 before Sept. 11, McDonough said. There's more going on than a show of uniforms and guns, he said. Maritime trade laws that once were lax are now being enforced, and there is closer scrutiny of unidentified aircraft over Florida. 'It's getting tougher and tougher to get the drugs in,' said McDonough, a retired Army colonel and former strategic planner at the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington."

Meanwhile the Baltimore Sun reported on Oct. 18 of last year that countries other than Columbia are increasing their drug exports to the United States while federal officials are distracted by the war on drugs.

It is not clear how the war on drugs that has become the war on terror and drugs will work out - either in terms of consequences for Colombia or for the United States.

It is entirely possible that the consequences will be unintended ones, however. Fighting terrorism may simply encourage other terrorists in the same way that fighting drugs has made the process of dealing in drugs so very lucrative.

Readers would no doubt be distressed to learn that the U.S. government helped finance the terrorist attacks that killed so many people in New York and Washington.

It's not such a far-fetched thought. According to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, terrorist organizations are financed in part by profits from trading in drugs. "The illegal drug trade is the financial engine that fuels many terrorist organizations around the world, including Osama Bin Laden's," Hastert said.

But what makes the drug trade so profitable? Just one thing: The U.S. war on drugs. How ironic! The war on drugs is now necessitating the war on terrorism. War does indeed beget war.

This is a particularly sordid example of what the CIA calls "blowback," the backfiring of an official operation.

What makes the drug industry so lucrative is the U.S.-led effort to stamp it out. With prohibition comes high risks and thus elaborate efforts to hide drug-related activity - the black market. Black markets always produce high profits, because high profits are the premium needed to compensate those who undertake great risk to produce the prohibited product in defiance of the authorities (http://www.mapinc.org/tlcnews/v02/n101/a03.htm?203).

One can only hope that both Colombians and Americans are not harmed in the process of these two wars that are not wars and that seem so likely to produce innocent victims.






http://www.theantidrugwar.com / http://www.undcp.org/colombia/rocha.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Columbian Drug Trade if Americans."  Essaytown.com.  November 18, 2002.  Accessed June 26, 2019.