November 12, 1999 (Ira Pilgrim)

The Drug Wars

We have met the enemy and they are us.

Walt Kelly

Anti-drug czar General Barry McCaffrey has proposed that the US increase military aid to Columbia from $298 million dollars to over $1 billion. Ostensibly this is because the leftist guerrillas have gotten into the drug business and are using their nefarious profits to finance their war against the government. By pouring money in the form of weapons into Columbia, this country can simultaneously support the arms industry, fight the drug war and fight the insidious world socialist/Communist/leftist conspiracy. The cold war continues on.

Our nation is still engaged in a war between unbridled capitalism, which makes its money on the backs of the impoverished peasants, and the rebels who are fighting to put an end to it. At least that is what we are led to believe. Similar fights are going on in several Latin American countries, including our neighbor Mexico.

There is a big difference between the cold war between the USSR and the USA that took place at the end of World War II, and what is going on to our south. It should also be obvious that capitalism as we know it in our country is radically different from what exists to our south. Latin American capitalism is similar to what existed in this country before the rise of labor unions. In the days before and after World War I, the US labor movement was the equivalent of the Latin American guerrilla movement. An important difference between the two is that the US labor movement was virtually unarmed, while the present day guerrilla movement has modern weapons which have been supplied by the communist nations. Their opponents are often dictators like General Augusto Pinochet of Chile, and their militias and death squads are supported by the USA.

Since Russia is in bad financial shape, they no longer supply much to the rebels. Now the Colombian guerrillas are purchasing their arms on the open market with profits made by selling narcotics to comparatively wealthy Americans. To my mind, that represents a triumph of free enterprise.

We can point to the unprecedented prosperity that exists today in the industrialized world as a triumph of capitalism. Baloney! If the capitalists at the turn of the century had had their way, we would still be a feudal society. What made capitalism succeed was the immense wealth that was created by industry combined with the new-found purchasing power of the American worker. It should be obvious that all of the most efficient production possible would not make for prosperity unless there were people with enough money to buy the products.

Much of industrial production is not designed for sale to individual consumers. It is designed to be sold to governments; which means that it is mostly military hardware which is used to fight wars, either with other countries or against a revolution by a country's own people. The War on Drugs is such an operation.

If the point of fighting a war on drugs was to win it, it would never have been started in the first place. The key element in the production and sale of narcotics is the consumer. The major consumers of narcotics are well-heeled Americans. The market for hard drugs are not the big city ghettos, but places like silicon valley.

We discovered the futility of trying to eliminate an attractive, vice during the prohibition of that EVIL substance, alcohol. Eventually, the legislation against alcohol had to be abandoned because it simply didn't work. Unlike the war against booze, the purpose of the war on drugs is not to eliminate drugs, but to consume military ordinance and keep the jobs of the soldiers in that war. It stands to reason that a general would be appointed to direct it. In other words, it is the boondoggle of boondoggles. A big difference between the Viet Nam war and this one is that Americans aren't dying. As everyone knows, Americans being killed can cost a politician his job, while Colombian deaths aren't even noticed by the media.

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