• War on drugs
    May 20,2013

    The various allegations of wrongdoing against the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department cast a serious shadow on President Obama’s administration and hand his political foes abundant ammunition to distract the American people from other important issues.

    To be fair, even some Obama supporters fear that some of the recent revelations raise questions about the president’s leadership and that of several of his key advisers. Attorney General Eric Holder appears to be particularly vulnerable to legitimate criticism.

    Some television and newspaper pundits are having a field day assailing the administration over its perceived mishandling of these important issues and at times the president has fueled their fire with what critics view as his too-cool demeanor and his less-than-enthusiastic embrace of the time-honored Oval Office truism that “the buck stops here.”

    But as these issues command the headlines, there are other matters that merit the American public’s attention and they’re not getting it because so much of the focus is on the headline-grabbing issues that contribute so much to today’s politically partisan culture.

    One overlooked topic is an emerging “game-changing” consensus on how to deal with the flow of illicit drugs afflicting our society in so many ugly ways. In short, the long-standing war on drugs is badly in need of a new strategy, and it’s about to get one. European governments and the Obama administration have begun studying a new report on global drug policy that some experts see as the beginning of the end for blanket prohibition.

    A recently published review by the Organization of American States depicts increasing dissatisfaction, especially among Latin American countries, with the current global policy on illicit drugs. The review identifies the effects of the present policy on many countries and examines what the global drug trade would look like if the status quo is left unchanged. It’s not a pretty picture.

    The review cites the dreadful human costs of the illicit drug trade. Americans are most familiar with reports of these tragic outcomes in neighboring Mexico, but the problem goes much further than that.

    “Growing media attention regarding this phenomenon in many countries, including on social media, reflects a world in which there is far greater awareness of the violence and suffering associated with the drug problem,” José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the OAS, wrote in the review. “We also enjoy a much better grasp of the human and social costs not only of drug use but also of the production and transit of controlled substances.”

    The report, taking advantage of this greater public awareness, examines various suggestions for reforming the current pro-prohibition position and describes them as the start of “a long-awaited discussion.”

    The report lets both Europe and North America know that the situation must change, with or without their participation.

    Latin American leaders have long complained that western countries, the principal destination of the drugs, don’t appreciate the damage associated with the trade.

    One dramatic idea expressed in the report is that some South American countries may simply stop fighting the drug cartels because the human costs of the “war on drugs” is far too high.

    The United States and Europe need to help. Diluting the seemingly insatiable appetite for illicit drugs is the responsibility of the consuming nations and their people.

    The partisan political climate dominating Capitol Hill only impedes this essential effort to cripple the illicit drug trade and end the plague of drug addiction. By all means, address the big issues, but not to the exclusion of other important matters.

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