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THE FAILING WAR ON DRUGS PDF Print Email
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 05 September 2008 14:37
Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jun 2008
Source: New Statesman (UK)
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Copyright: 2008 New Statesman
Website: http://www.newstatesman.co.uk/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1067
Author: Hugh O'Shaughnessy

THE FAILING WAR ON DRUGS

US presidents rarely attack the really dangerous drugs of alcohol and 
tobacco and meanwhile efforts to reduce Colombia's drugs harvest are 
making little difference

Failure continues to dog President Bush as he finishes his 
disappointing European tour and returns home to watch his second term 
in office agonisingly dragging to its tragic conclusion. Failure to 
improve the lot of the ordinary man in his own increasingly divided 
country; failure in his relations with his allies; failure in Iraq 
and Afghanistan; failure to master his adversities from Cuba to North 
Korea; failure to control Israeli aggression against their 
neighbours; and what surely must be the impending failure of his 
party to win the US presidential election. Now it's a big US failure 
in Colombia, the predictable - and long predicted - failure of the 
unwinnable "war on drugs" that Bush has pursued so sedulously. The 
details, says the Reuters news agency, will come out from the United 
Nations tomorrow, June 18.

One must here hastily remind unwary readers that the phrase "war on 
drugs" is a choice bit of politician's mumbo-jumbo. The three words 
don't, of course, mean what they say. What successive United States 
presidents, and other gullible or scheming leaders who imitate them, 
have been attacking is not the major drugs, the really dangerous 
drugs which reduce the lives of millions to misery. No. The alcohol 
and tobacco which hospitalise people around the world, eat away at 
the vital organs, such as the livers and lungs of otherwise healthy 
men and women and eventually kill them are not attacked with the 
ferocity which they deserve. There is no move against the vineyards 
of the Napa Valley and the tobacco fields of Virginia, no suggestion 
by Bush in Paris this month that the French government that it order 
the grapes growing around Chateau Petrus or for the Widow Clicquot in 
Champagne to be ploughed in.

But the US goes on struggling to get the coca bushes which produce 
cocaine ripped up in Colombia. And this despite the fact that the 
best guesses of the United Nations suggest that about half humankind 
- including me - consumes alcohol and at least one in five uses 
tobacco. (In the slippery twilight world of drugs best guesses are 
all you have got to help you.)

But hardworking US taxpayers, whose government refuses to give them 
the health care which is seen as a right in countries rich and poor 
from Scotland to Cuba, have been financing a futile effort to 
eliminate the production of narcotics which are indulged in by a 
relatively small, even tiny, proportion of our fellow human beings. 
Only something between 3.3 to 4.1 per cent of us use illicit drugs 
and the overwhelming majority who do resort to them use cannabis.

Figures to be published in Bogota, the Colombian capital, will show 
that after years of effort to root out Colombia's cocaine production 
(and incidentally to militarise the country) is also a failure. After 
the "Plan Colombia" was launched by his predecessor President Clinton 
in January 2000 at a cost so far of $5 billion which the US budget 
can ill afford, the area under coca bushes in that country last year 
went UP very sharply indeed. From 78,000 hectares in 2006 it rose by 
no less than 25 per cent - yes, 25 - per cent last year to 98,000 
hectares. After all the dangerous aerial spraying of glyphosate 
poisons on 219,000 hectares of the Colombian countryside (and, oops, 
swathes of neighbouring Ecuador) with the consequent damage to the 
health of the peasants, their children, their beasts and the crops 
below there remains almost the same number of bushes as there were in 
2000. Then there were 102,000 hectares; so last year's total was a 
bare 4,000 hectares less. Plan Colombia has been a costly exercise in 
dangerous futility. Its military component has also been the 
principal cause of no less than 3 million Colombians, the current 
world record in one country, being uprooted from their homes.

The leading Colombian news magazine Semana reports that, in an 
insulting reference to the love for chemical warfare that he shared 
with Saddam Hussein's cousin known as "Chemical Ali", the Colombians 
gave Bush's representative in Bogota, Ambassador William Wood, a 
special nickname. Washington's chief overseer of Plan Colombia was 
known behind his back as "Chemical Bill".

Chemical Bill meet Calamity George.
 

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