David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 6/20/03
This week's drug war news as usual includes no shortage of outrages. Despite the mass murder of more than 2,000 Thai drug suspects without trial by police in recent months, the supreme commander of Thailand's Army and the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff are meeting to discuss how they can help each other fight drugs. And in Peru, the military, assisted by US forces, will resume shooting down airplanes that they suspect or claim they suspect of carrying drugs -- also without trial.
Our government will not reduce our country's drug problem by helping other governments around the world commit murder. Any reductions in coca in Peru will be replaced by increases in other countries. Any reductions in opium in Thailand will be replaced by increased in other countries. This "balloon effect" is well demonstrated, has been happening reliably for decades, and any public official or pseudo-academic who claims otherwise or that it might be different next time is lying to us and/or himself.
There is no legitimate moral, intellectual or practical justification for encouraging or assisting drug war murders. Yet the powers and interests driving them have no desire to stop nor even slow down, neither abroad nor at home. Just as the death of Veronica Bowers, the 35-year old missionary shot out of the Peruvian sky in error, stopped the shootdowns only temporarily, the death of Alberta Spruill in New York City from a "no-knock" warrant prompted only temporary discussion -- they're not even talking about ceasing the deadly no-knock drug raids, though the innocent deaths happen again and again. The drug warmongers will concede nothing voluntarily, no matter how terrible or outrageous or execrable.
Since policymakers lack the moral clarity or political will in sufficient numbers to perceive and stop drug war atrocities by the agencies under their authority, it is up to people to demand it of them. We must expose the grotesque immoralities of the drug war, we must insist that fundamental ethics and proportion and due process be restored to laws and policies, and we must demand accountability. We must describe failure as failure, injustice as injustice, and murder as murder. And we must regard informed inaction as complicity, and deliberation human rights violations perpetrated or permitted by governments as no less condemnable than acts of violence committed by criminals or terrorists.
To do so would be to devalue
the fundamental ideals of what is right and what is wrong that have stood
the test of millennia. There is no drug war exception to good and