Former British cabinet member Mo Mowlam, who was responsible for Prime Minister Tony Blair's drug policy from 1999 through last year and who has already called drug prohibition a "failure" (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/235.html#momowlam), again called for an end to global drug prohibition, this time explicitly linking drug legalization to the success of the "war on terror." In a September 19 op-ed in the Guardian (UK), Mowlam wrote that the most effective means of fighting the "war on terror" would be to legalize the drug trade and thereby dry up a significant source of funding for criminal activities and political violence worldwide.
Clearly reflecting a broader European revulsion with the war drums beating along the Potomac, Mowlam's essay included a strong critique of President Bush's "war on terror" as it has been waged so far. "While the United States and Britain continue to assert that toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq is the best next step in the war against terrorism, I would like to suggest a more productive course of action," wrote Mowlam. "May I suggest that rather than bombing innocent civilians in Muslim countries, the United States and Britain begin to take a more intelligent approach to the drug trade: namely, to legalize it."
Mowlam cited high US officials, including President Bush himself, as making the drug-terror connection and agreed that such a connection indeed exists. But she argued that the way to break that connection is not an ever-escalating war on drugs that can never be won. "It is clear that the present approach to drugs is not working, and if the war against drugs fails then we can be sure that the war against terrorism will also be unsuccessful," Mowlam wrote. "From my experience of being responsible for drug policy in the previous government, I came to the conclusion that the legalization and regulation of all drugs was the only way to reduce the harmful effects of this activity," Mowlam wrote, adding that she had "many reasons" for reaching that conclusion. "One of those reasons is that we need to detach the international drug business from criminality -- not least because it would further isolate international terrorism by removing the finance and other resources, such as places for training, and money laundering facilities.
"Drugs and terrorism are linked and are set to become more so," Mowlam concluded. "Legalization of drugs would stop this connection: It would begin to solve problems caused by drugs today and would isolate the terrorists."
As the US government heightens the schism between itself and its European allies over Iraq and the anti-terror war, it is also bringing fundamental disagreements over drug policy into sharper focus.