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March 25, 2009

Is Invincible Human Stupidity the Drug War’s Secret of Success?

In the run up to last night’s historic White House Press Conference, the breaking news being breathlessly reported on the CNN broadcast I was watching (9:00 PM PDT) was the improbable violence along the Mexican Border, which had just escalated to a point that ace CNN personalities Anderson Cooper and Michael Ware were promising to report from Juarez this evening.

Minutes later, the press conference began with President Obama looking a bit more haggard than he had on 60 Minutes. After the obnoxiously self-important twits of the White House press corps began asking their usual clueless questions, Obama shone by comparison in every area but one: he answered a soft-ball question about Mexico and the drug war by promising more of the same Nixonoian stupidity that converted a dumb policy into disaster 40 years ago after the tricky one single handedly launched Operation Intercept in the mistaken belief that it would keep marijuana out of the US.

As was reported in a contemporary account published only three years later, the first battle in the modern war on drugs was a ludicrous failure, but, in what has come to be standard drug war procedure, those responsible called it a “success.”

I has been a young Army officer stationed on the Border in El Paso between 1958 to 1963; the first year was spent as a dispensary officer at Fort Bliss, and the last four as a resident in General Surgery at William Beaumont General Hospital just across the highway from Bilss.

Juarez was a somewhat sleazy, but very safe border town where we went shopping or visited restaurants and night clubs on week-ends. Any drug trade that existed was completely invisible to us. The occasional GI treated in the Beaumont Emergency Room after a Border fracas was inevitably a victim of alcohol and his own bad judgment.

Over the last fourteen years of my immersion in drug policy activism, I have become increasingly puzzled and distressed by the entire world’s endorsement of Nixon’s supremely dishonest and invincibly stupid drug war (even to the point that a significant fraction in the same movement now supports continued prohibition of “hard" drugs) but still cannot understand why so few others are unable to grasp what to me is crystal clear: the drug war has become like a debilitating virus capable of weakening the human species to a degree that threatens its very existence, yet the danger remains undetected because of a strange immunity that prevents world leaders from recognizing the truth.

I now fear more than ever for our future.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 25, 2009 11:11 AM