Monday, August 20, 2007

Washington Post Outlook section -- "The Lost War"

The Washington Post editors have not tolerated much criticism of the basics of American drug policy. Historically their op-ed page has welcomed defenses of status quo strategy by Joseph Califano (former counsel for the paper), George Will, and government officials. Almost the only criticism of the status quo can be found in occasional letters to the editor.

But on Sunday, the Outlook section published on its front page a very powerful analysis by Misha Glenny of the global criminal organizations that threaten legitimate governments everywhere, and the Afghan government in particular. This tracks some of the analysis that can be found at and is a theme of Arnold Trebach's new book, Fatal Distraction: The War on Drug in the Age of Islamic Terror.

Misha Glenny is a former BBC correspondent and the author of "McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Underworld," to be published next year.

What is unique in Glenny's report -- as far as it being on the Post op-ed page -- is that it highlights the prohibition character of drug policy as an advantage to criminals and terrorists, and a handicap for the rest of us.

He concludes:

In Washington, the war on drugs has been a third-rail issue since its inauguration. It's obvious why -- telling people that their kids can do drugs is the kiss of death at the ballot box. But that was before 9/11. Now the drug war is undermining Western security throughout the world. In one particularly revealing conversation, a senior official at the British Foreign Office told me, "I often think we will look back at the War on Drugs in a hundred years' time and tell the tale of 'The Emperor's New Clothes.' This is so stupid."

How right he is.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great work.