Brandon Ferdig writes:
President Obama is easily the most likeable president I’ve been alive to see. His leadership capabilities range from inspiring to heart-warming. He’s charismatic and has a great family.
But in areas of national defense and drug policy President Obama has been a disappointment. In fact, he’s been indefensibly terrible. In these days when his supporters are finding it tougher than ever to criticize the President for fear of him losing the election, it makes these realizations all the more important to bear in mind—so that you’re not caught up in election fever and vote for someone enforcing lethal policy. (And this includes Romney, because he’ll declare the same policies.)
The War on Drugs
Yes, law enforcement seizes a bunch of narcotics each year. They take their picture in front of a mountain of drugs and state how kids now aren’t going to get high on the stuff. But we could say the same thing if we captured a Coca-Cola truck every now and again. Never mind that while you’re posing with the seized cargo, twenty other trucks have driven by in the background. That it’s useless, though, is actually one of the more polite things one can say about the Drug War.
The federal government drops a cool $20 billion/yr trying to stop people from getting high. This sounds like just another big number coming from D.C., but when broken down per deed and per person hired: officers, surveillance equipment, crop-dusting cocaine fields in Colombia, judges, prosecutors, and building and running the jails, we see that each is money not spent on something helpful to our world. Oh, it’s also about $600 every second.
And if drugs are the disease and the Drug War the medicine, it’s the side effects of the treatment that are worse yet.
With no courts to resolve street conflict, things are settled by violence—wherever, by whoever and to whoever that may be, resulting in murder, innocent bystanders, and dangerous people willing to take the opportunity provided by the lucrative trade. Maybe if I provided a story of a single innocent person whose house was wrongly raided or a child who was shot by a stray bullet, this might make more of an impact. Just know that this stuff happens.
And if it’s hard to be cognizant of the harm caused domestically because of the War on Drugs, it’ll be tougher for us yet to care for the death in other countries. But this is something I’m challenging you to do—because deep down, we know that a life lost in Guatemala is as tragic as a life list in Any City, U.S, and this geographically extended War has been erupting in Mexico and Central America for years.
In the list of the world’s top ten most dangerous countries, six are Latin American, each fueled for competition for the demand and market of American drug users. It’s led to news such as this: “Twenty-seven farm labourers were decapitated and had their heads strewn across a field one recent night.” read the The Guardian’s website on June 28th, 2011.
This is one of many, many examples.
The White House isn’t the pulling the triggers, beheading the victims, or slaughtering the civilians down there, but as a nation supposedly empathetic to the suffering of others (that’s why we were told we got Saddam and Ghadaffi), we continue to instill policy that leads indirectly to these atrocities. And of course, this policy leads directly to the first problems mentioned above.
All this harm and death could be reduced almost immediately with decriminalization, a policy shift endorsed from writers and media across the political spectrum. (Even Pat Robertson said we should decriminalize marijuana!)
Knowing that the president knows all this, and assuming—which I do—that he personally advocates legalization himself, what’s left are two possibilities as to why he continues the bad fight. And it’s in these that we reveal some big problems: either he’s let advisors pull him away from good policy, or he doesn’t dare come across as being “soft” on the Drug War at the expense of losing public support. The former reveals a lack of strength to do what’s right; the latter that he’s putting re-election ahead of preventing deaths—a lack of something more crucial.
Read more here.