Wednesday, May 01, 2013

When Dealing Drugs Is Bad/When Dealing Drugs is Good

A recent news story has brought to light some ridiculous hypocrisy in the War on Terror. Normally, this is not a news worthy event, as the entire basis of the War on Terror is rank hypocrisy (remember, our definition of "terror" is using violence, or the threat thereof, to intimidate peoples in order to effect political outcomes. Which would also be the exact purpose of the Iraq and Afghan wars).

But sometimes the hypocrisy is so blatantly ridiculous it deserves some special attention, such as when the US literally gives bags of cash to corrupt Afghan drug lords. And I'm not abusing the word literally here; US officials actually gave large bags full of cash to Karzai and his associates in an attempt to purchase their favor (bonus level of hypocrisy: when Iran did the exact same thing, the US accused them of undermining international law by illegally bribing public officials.)

Many of the people receiving these bags of cash are known drug lords (most of the world's opium and heroin comes from Afghanistan, something the Taliban had actually curtailed to a great degree prior to the invasion). And no one in the State Department is naive or stupid enough to think for a minute that they're not directly funding large drug producers. They're just funding large drug producers in the name of Democracy, I guess. Well, to be technical about it, they're funding major drug producers in the name of establishing a proto-democratic dictatorial client state which will do our bidding in the region, but that doesn't flow off the tongue nearly as well.

Just as a reminder, if you fund the sale of heroin by purchasing even a small amount, you are due for at least a year in federal prison and a fine of up to $7,000. Our nation has more people in prison for drug offenses than the entire European Union has in prison or in jail for any charge. We imprison by far the most people in the world, whether measured in raw numbers or as proportion of the population, and most of that is due to drug-related arrests.

Yet at the same time our nation has been locking up millions drug users and dealers (well, poor drug users and dealers of color; white users and dealers face a significantly lower chance of arrest), we've also been providing millions of dollars in free money to people we know are using that money to produce illegal narcotics.

It's hard to make someone as cynical as me get upset about government shenanigans, but sometimes the "it's wrong for anyone else to do, but we can do it on a far larger and much more damaging scale for reasons we never have to explain or justify" (non)logic is just a little too on the nose...

No comments: