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The Failure From The "War On Drugs"

2096 words - 9 pages

The drug war continues to be an ongoing issue in the US – and, to some extent, around the world. The contentious policy, since its inception, has been meticulously documented by historians and filmmakers alike. This paper will explore the failure of “War on Drugs” in the US by engaging with textual scholarly secondary sources to which will be supplemented by a relevant documentary, The House We Live In by Jarecki. It is the war on drugs, and not the drugs themselves, that are harming the nation. As this paper will show, the drug war is a failure on several accounts. Drug prohibition, and the later variation, “war on drugs”, attempt to internationally suppress the inherently complex global ...view middle of the document...

Although success was briefly experienced, in 1960, the FBN's successor, the Bureau of Narcotics and dangerous Drugs, was unable to cope with the expanded international drug traffic which was largely concentrated in Southeast Asia.2
Interestingly, The House We Live In reveals that race placed a key role throughout the history of US drug prohibition. In the early 20th century in the United States, opium was legal; however, it became illegal in the west of US then the east. The correlation, or rather causation, behind this move was that the Chinese largely immigrated to the the west, and these immigrants were infamous for their opium drug habit. Prohibition acted as a clever buffer for the white Americans by not having to arrest the Chinese for being “Chinese” -- animosity developed due the immigrants, such as the Chinese, for taking the white man's job – but having them arrested for the drug habit that was exclusively bound to them. Similarly, the Blacks weren't arrested for being “black” but they they were arrested for a drug habit that are exclusive to them: crack. For the Mexicans; marijuana. Essentially, any threat the economic establishment for the White men were targeted and effectively dealt with in the United States.
There are also some key reasons behind the drug prohibitions that were enacted throughout the first half of the 20th century. Drug prohibition and “temperance ideology”were, and continue to be, integral forces in laws, institution and culture in the United States – they, after all, were there since the birth of the nation. Every time a new drug arrives over the horizon, a “chronic national hysteria” is regenerated .3 The “anti-drug ideology” is distinctive of American society.4 The House We Live In touches up on the reemerging hysteria in the US whenever a new drug is introduced in the street.
Another reason is the “John Birchers of the drug war” which was another considerable influence over drug prohibition. The John Birch Society was the most anti-communist of all organizations during the 1960s when the American ideology was strictly anti-communism, and they were against any sign of “moderation” or “detente.” Although they represent just approximately 20 percent of the public opinion today, “their political influence far exceeds that of the nation's leading scientists, scholars, and other drug policy experts.” “Powerful senators and congressmen take their calls, invite them to testify before official hearings, ensure that their organizations are well funded, and act on their advice.. Directors of drug treatment and research agencies, fearful of the zealots' wrath, are quick to compromise their own scientific and intellectual integrity.”5
The “war on drugs” was first launched in 1972 by President Richard Nixon – and this was the “first major attempt at bilateral suppression of the international traffic.” However, this first attempt at an international solution actually exacerbated the problem. Nixon had initially won...

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