Our Drug War Alliances in South America Are Crumbling

Decades of drug war demolition tactics have taken their toll on our diplomacy in South America:

QUITO (Reuters) - From Argentina to Nicaragua, Latin Americans have elected leftist leaders over the last decade who are challenging Washington's aggressive war on drugs in the world's top cocaine-producing region.

These governments are shaking off U.S. influence in the region and building defense and trade alliances that exclude the United States. Some now say they can better fight drugs without U.S. help and are rejecting policies they do not like.

The strongest resistance to U.S. drug policies is in Ecuador and Bolivia, two coca-growing countries of the Andes, and in Venezuela.

This is just the inevitable consequence of bribing foreign governments to let our soldiers run around on their land slashing and burning the livelihoods of impoverished populations. We've declared war on the coca plant itself, insisting that it not be grown even by indigenous people who've used it for thousands of years for altitude sickness and appetite suppression. As it becomes increasingly clear that none of this is accomplishing anything, everyone's starting to realize that we have no intention of ever leaving.

We literally go around giving report cards to sovereign nations rating their cooperation in our own hopeless effort to stop Americans from using drugs. Both sides in the South American drug war are funded with U.S. dollars, yet we bare only the burden of our own indulgence, not the horrific violence and destabilization wrought by the endless war on drugs.

Thanks to democracy, however, the victims of our disastrous policies in South America may elect leaders who want to kick us the hell out. I can’t say I blame them.
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Is the Drug War on Cannabis and Other Drugs a ‘Preventive War’?

The concept of preventive war  “is interpreted by its current enthusiasts [as] the use of military force to eliminate an invented or imagined threat, so that even the term "preventive" is too charitable. Preventive war is, very simply, the supreme crime that was condemned at Nuremberg.”—Noam Chomsky 

Certainly, the militant SWAT raids on American citizens that focus on marijuana crimes are the toxic results of an invented or imagined threat.  The drug violence in Mexico, Central and South America, Afghanistan, Thailand…is not imagined, and all such violence is linked to a military effort in various aspects of its drug enforcement operations.

The U.S. government leads the world in its use of dangerous and militant tactics designed to prevent its citizens from using certain drugs, substances that by now have proven themselves relatively harmless through frequent and widespread common use, or at least capable of regulation if the drugs reside in a more harmful category.

There are complications.  As a preventive war, the drug war on cannabis is necessarily equated to a war of aggression as described under international law.  As such, “Article 39 of the United Nations Charter provides that the Security Council shall determine the existence of any act of aggression and "shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security".Additionally, “the [drug war] crime falls within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the Rome Statute stipulates that the ICC may not exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression until such time as the states parties agree on a definition of the crime and set out the conditions under which it may be prosecuted”.

No pot smoker attacked the U.S. government, nor anything else, prior to the enactment of the laws against cannabis possession and sales by otherwise law abiding citizens.  Rather, the initial attack came from ignorant bureaucrats steeped in racist puritanical fervor and malignant corporatism, all of  which combined various individual goals in self-serving and opportune ways to create a persecuting government entity dedicated to its own survival above any and all other considerations.

Under the rules of the International Criminal Court, the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia have the sovereign authority to unite to achieve a drug war peace by prosecuting John P. Walters and his ilk in the ICC.

Given that the U.S. is one of the few countries on the planet that currently doesn’t recognize the authority of the ICC, any such gesture on the part of our honorable South American neighbors would not necessarily produce binding results beyond keeping J. P. Walters chained to U.S. territory, but it would indeed be a symbolic victory against the drug war in the world’s political theater.

Giordano

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