All the reasons that are given for drug prohibition or, for that matter, gun prohibition are reasons for prohibiting the consumption of alcohol.
The Centers for Disease Control say that alcohol abuse is the third-largest cause of preventable death in the United States. More than 75,000 deaths a year are attributed to alcohol. It is involved in 39 percent of highway fatalities, one-third of suicides and 37 percent of rapes and sexual assaults. Each year there are 3 million violent crimes in which the victim says the offender was drunk.
Given these facts, it was understandable that the United States in 1919 would try prohibiting alcohol. The prohibition laws did not stop people from consuming alcohol, but they did stimulate the growth of organized crime to a much more powerful place in American life.
But when the Noble Experiment was repealed in 1933, things did not return to the way they were in 1919. Organized crime did not go out of business. It sought other activities, and is an important part of American life to this day. All the evils that Prohibition was intended to alleviate continue to this day. But no reasonable person wants to restore Prohibition. It is a cure that is worse than the disease, even though the disease is very real.
After reading a report in the Washington Post by Dana Priest on the current state of the war on narco-traffickers in Mexico, I think drug prohibition will end in the same way. She told how the CIA spearheaded the drug war and developed such close ties with CISEN, the Mexican intelligence service, that it became virtually part of the Mexican government. The George W. Bush administration stepped up arrests of drug kingpins and attempts to shut down drug smuggling routes. The druglords responded savagely.
CISEN discovered from a captured videotape and a special analytical group it set up that some of the cartels had hired former members of the U.S.-trained Guatemalan special forces, the Kaibiles, to create sociopathic killers who could behead a man, torture a child or immerse a captive in a vat of acid.
Anxious to counterattack, the CIA proposed electronically emptying the bank accounts of drug kingpins, but was turned down by the Treasury Department and the White House, which feared unleashing chaos in the banking system.
As the Mexican death toll mounted, [President Felipe] Calderon pleaded with Bush for armed drones. He had been impressed by the results in Iraq and Afghanistan, two former U.S. officials said. The White House considered the request, but quickly rejected it. It was far too likely to result in collateral damage, they said.
By 2009, President Obama’s first year in office, horrific scenes had become commonplace throughout Mexico: severed heads thrown onto a dance floor, a half-dozen bodies hanged from a bridge, bombs embedded in cadavers. Ciudad Juarez, a stone’s throw from El Paso, was a virtual killing zone.
… … Success against the cartels’ leadership had helped incite more violence than anyone had predicted, more than 60,000 deaths and 25,000 disappearances in the past seven years alone.
Meanwhile, the drug flow into the United States continued unabated. Mexico remains the U.S. market’s largest supplier of heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine and the transshipment point for 95 percent of its cocaine.
via The Washington Post.
On Dec. 1, a new President, Enrique Pena Nieto, took office. According to Priest, he is less interested in the U.S.-backed policy of arresting druglords and more in drug abuse prevention and keeping Mexico’s streets safe. In other words, he cares more about Mexico’s problems and less about helping the United States solve its problems.
She reported that U.S. officials are worried about President Pena Nieto’s priorities. I think we in the United States would be wise to adopt these priorities for ourselves. The roots of the U.S. drug addiction problem are in the United States, not in Mexico, Colombia or any other foreign country.
I think the war on drugs is going to end in the same way as Prohibition. I don’t think that will be a good result, but I think it will be an inevitable result. In this, as in many other things, I will be pleased if events prove me wrong.
There are two wise sayings that apply here. One is Stein’s Rule, by Herbert Stein, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Nixon.
If something cannot go on forever, someday it will stop.
The other is one of Rumsfeld’s Rules, by Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush.
If a problem cannot be solved, it may not be a problem, but a fact.