H. L. Mencken used to say that governments provoked moral panics and kept people in fear of “imaginary hobgoblins” so they wouldn’t notice the hand picking their pockets. The main purpose of the Drug War is to keep us in a state of fear as a way of empowering the state and its corporate partners in crime. The Drug War is one of the best expedients ever hit on for that purpose: it has resulted in unprecedented militarization of local police forces, turned the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments into toilet paper, and generally done more to promote authoritarianism in American society than anything but the two world wars and the so-called “War on Terror.”
If you consider the validity of the fear campaign itself even a serious issue, by the way, you might peruse the violent crime and addiction statistics from Amsterdam. We’ve handed our society over to the police state and to criminal gangs (there’s a difference?), and didn’t even get a crime reduction. The shade of Benjamin Franklin must be gratified: we traded liberty for security and got neither.
I previously argued in this column that the Drug War empowers organized crime, and that crooked cops are the biggest drug gang of all. The main constituency behind the Drug War is the criminals who control the drug trade and benefit from black market prices. It’s the same principle that governed alcohol Prohibition. It’s unlikely Prohibition had a greater friend in America than Al Capone. And whenever a dry county law comes up for a vote in the Bible Belt, you can bet the biggest supporter of staying dry is the local bootlegger—and that he’s the biggest source of campaign funds for the teetotaling Baptist politicians.
Likewise, the biggest supporters of the Drug War are the drug cartels. And the CIA is among the biggest drug cartels of all, using the international drug trade to finance everybody from the Khmer Rouge to the Mujaheddin to the Contras. The government, despite the public verbal diarrhea of dimwits like William Bennett, doesn’t want to defeat the drug trade any more than Oceania wanted to defeat Eurasia.
Blogger Larry Gambone has long believed, he writes, that the “most shrill” drug warriors “have some financial reason to be in favour of the black market in drugs.” Mike Ruppert, usually dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist,” implicated the banking system, which he accused of laundering drug money by in massive quantities and then putting it in the stock market.
Thank God Ruppert has managed to evade Cass Sunstein’s clutches, crazy conspiracy theorist that he is, long enough for the latest news from the nonconspiratorial professional journalists at the Guardian. The left-leaning UK newspaper quotes Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, to the effect that “Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis…” Organized crime proceeds like drug money, he says, were “’the only liquid investment capital’ available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year.” Most of the $352 billion in drug profits were absorbed into the above-ground economy by that means.
America will always be fighting drugs, the same way Oceania was always fighting Eurasia. Drugs are too profitable an enemy to ever defeat.