The Weight of Thought

David Simon surged into the American mainstream with a bleak vision of the devastation wrought by drugs on his home town of Baltimore – The Wire, hailed by many as the greatest television drama of all time. But what keeps him there is his apocalyptic and unrelenting heresy over the failed “war on drugs”, the multibillion-dollar worldwide crusade launched by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

When Simon brought that heresy to London last week – to take part in a debate hosted by the Observer – he was inevitably asked about what reformers celebrate as recent “successes” – votes in Colorado and Washington to legalise marijuana.

“I’m against it,” Simon told his stunned audience at the Royal Institution on Thursday night. “The last thing I want to do is rationalise the easiest, the most benign end of this. The whole concept needs to be changed, the debate reframed.

“I want the thing to fall as one complete edifice. If they manage to let a few white middle-class people off the hook, that’s very dangerous. If they can find a way for white kids in middle-class suburbia to get high without them going to jail,” he continued, “and getting them to think that what they do is a million miles away from black kids taking crack, that is what politicians would do.”

If marijuana were exempted from the war on drugs, he insisted, “it’d be another 10 or 40 years of assigning people of colour to this dystopia.”

Simon joined two film directors for a discussion onstage: Eugene Jarecki, in whose movie The House I Live In – on the toll of America’s war on drugs – he features prominently, and Rachel Seifert, whose Cocaine Unwrapped charts the drug’s progress from blighted “producer” countries to the addicts in Europe and the US.

The occasion was staged by the Observer and chaired by its editor, John Mulholland, as part of its campaign to address the global drugs crisis.

Simon took no prisoners. In his vision, the war on – and the curse of – drugs are inseparable from what he called, in his book, The Death of Working Class America, the de-industrialisation and ravaging of cities that were once the engine-rooms and, in Baltimore’s case, the seaboard of an industrial superpower.

The war is about the disposal of what Simon called, in his most unforgiving but cogent term, “excess Americans”: once a labour force, but no longer of use to capitalism. He went so far as to call the war on drugs “a holocaust in slow motion”.

The presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala all called for a vigorous global debate of anti-narcotics laws at the United Nations on Wednesday, raising new questions about the wisdom of the four-decade-old, U.S.-led “war on drugs.”

Although none of the leaders explicitly called for narcotics to be legalized, they suggested at the U.N. General Assembly that they would welcome wholesale changes to policies that have shown scant evidence of limiting drug flows while contributing to massive violence throughout Latin America.

"It is our duty to determine - on an objective scientific basis - if we are doing the best we can or if there are better options to combat this scourge," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who leaves office on December 1 after spending much of his presidency locked in a bloody battle with drug-smuggling gangs, called on the United Nations to lead a global debate over a less “prohibitionist” approach to drugs.

US Isolated at Summit of Americas

Alex Main: From Cuba to the war on drugs, only Canada supports US policy

A historic meeting of Latin America’s leaders, to be attended by Barack Obama, will hear serving heads of state admit that the war on drugs has been a failure and that alternatives to prohibition must now be found.

The Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia is being seen by foreign policy experts as a watershed moment in the redrafting of global drugs policy in favour of a more nuanced and liberalised approach.

Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country’s military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, Pérez Molina writes: “The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated.”

Ron Paul is the Rodney Dangerfield of Republican presidential candidates. The 12-term Texas congressman ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket back in 1988 and was widely seen as a sideshow in 2008, despite finishing third in the GOP field behind John McCain and Mike Huckabee. Why, despite a small but devoted set of supporters, does this 76-year-old obstetrician turned politician routinely get no respect from the media and GOP operatives? Let’s take a look at what “Dr. No” — a nickname grounded in his medical career and his penchant for voting against any bill increasing the size of government — really stands for.

Afghanistan is, by far, the largest grower and exporter of opium in the world today, cultivating a 92 percent market share of the global opium trade. But what may shock many is the fact that the US military has been specifically tasked with guarding Afghan poppy fields, from which opium is derived, in order to protect this multibillion dollar industry that enriches Wall Street, the CIA, MI6, and various other groups that profit big time from this illicit drug trade scheme.

Prior to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Afghanistan was hardly even a world player in growing poppy, which is used to produce both illegal heroin and pharmaceutical-grade morphine. In fact, the Taliban had been actively destroying poppy fields as part of an effort to rid the country of this harmful plant, as was reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on February 16, 2001, in a piece entitled Nation’s opium production virtually wiped out.

But after 9/11, the US military-industrial complex quickly invaded Afghanistan and began facilitating the reinstatement of the country’s poppy industry. According to the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), opium cultivation increased by 657 percent in 2002 after the US military invaded the country under the direction of then-President George W. Bush.

CIA responsible for reinstating opium industry in Afghanistan after 9/11

California legalized medical marijuana for seriously ill patients in 1996 and it is now legal in 16 states and DC.  However, the Obama Administration wants to shut down pot dispensaries in California.

Obama’s renewed ‘War on Drugs’ is ironically led by the Department of Justice while they are currently trying to cover-up the Gunwalker/Fast & Furious scandal that involves the federal government handing military-style assault weapons over to Mexican drug cartels.  The guns have been used to murder people on both sides of the border. 

More than 42,000 people have been killed in drug related violence in Mexico since their president Felipe Calderon stepped up his ‘War on Drugs’ in 2006.

Legalization of drugs will end drug trade related violence.

The US ‘War on Drugs’ is an abject failure that costs US taxpayers $15 billion a year, or $500 a second.  The ‘War on Drugs’ has wrongly imprisoned tens of millions of non-violent American drug users and costs taxpayers almost $200 billion a year.

If the federal government was sincere about stopping drug use, they would end the CIA’s drug smuggling adventures

The federal government’s enhanced War on Drugs is not really about drugs, it’s about crushing States Rights under the Tenth Amendment and generating mega-profits for the pharmaceutical industry.