Anything can be decontextualized. It’s a tactic used every day by those who would sway us to some alternative point of view. Without trying to get too deeply into the weeds of meta-consciousness, all truths are filtered through our own particular sets of personal, institutional, and cultural biases. But some biases are more apparent than others.
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency has it’s own sets of biases, and, given their mission, that’s understandable to some extent. According to them, the US war on drugs is a success. Cited as proof, they claim that they’ve reduced cocaine use by “an astounding” 70% during the last 15 years. So I get that they have a vested interest in making such a claim. But that doesn’t mean I have to like the fact that they apparently think I’m stupid.
Personally I’m not particularly fond of things that alter my consciousness. My need for rational control is way too strong to be tolerant of things that deprive me of it. But one doesn’t have to be particularly intimate with drug culture to know that cocaine ceased being a glamorous drug after the demise of the “cocaine cowboys” of Miami in the 1980’s. Cocaine has long since been supplanted, first by crack, now by methamphetamine. Drug trafficking is the single fastest growing business globally, followed distantly by human trafficking according to the UN.
So just who does the USDEA think it’s fooling? That international flow of drugs is primarily going to a single destination: the United States of America. A success? Let’s measure that success by some broader objective measures than the reduction of cocaine use. How about we measure it by its cascading effects. Phoenix AZ is now the US capital for kidnapping. In the world it’s only second to Mexico City. It’s convenient (and incorrect) to blame illegal immigrants. It’s our demand for drugs produced outside of the US that is the root of that problem. We can attack the supply chain all we like, but so long as the demand exists, the supply will meet it.
But the extent to which domestic cascading effects are problematic, these pale compared to the disaster that awaits us as Mexico becomes a failed state. We already have a lively debate throughout America over illegal immigration. The nexus of our drug policies combined with growing resentment over undocumented aliens consuming US public goods looms close on the horizon, potentially turning a major domestic problem into an international catastrophe. Imagine, for a moment, what it will mean when the status of immigrant is changed to that of refugee. Envision, for a moment, camps established all along our Southern border to accommodate the inflow of people trying to escape the chaos of a failed Mexican state that has torn itself apart over the illicit drug and human trafficking trade.
Drug (and human) abuse is not a domestic law enforcement problem. It is a national security problem. The supply side solution is not to try and destroy the supply; but rather to control it. If we cannot curb our appetites, we can at least attempt to feed those appetites in a way that does not threaten the stability of our nation and our neighbors.
Filtering out the side effects of our drug and immigration policies is no way to deal with issues that are so important to our national stability or that of our neighbors. Such decontextualized proofs of success as the reduction in cocaine consumption is simply insulting the intelligence of those who actually bother to think about this issue in bigger terms than simple law enforcement. Consumption of drugs produced outside the United States isn’t a simple matter of addiction or consenting adults enjoying some mind altering experience. It’s a violation of our security as a nation by contributing to the destabilization of a neighboring nation and to the humanitarian disaster that organized drug and human trafficking has brought about. It is tantamount to funding insurgency or terrorism, and it should be treated in that manner. Such treatment demands new solutions that may seem contrary to our improvident notions of morality, but I, for one, would rather see our actions feed the addictions of my own countrymen by controlling the supply, than utterly destroy the nations and lives of those who aren’t.