Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Insanity of the 'War on Drugs'

Prohibition seems to be very much an American thing, perhaps it might be included as part of the 'Washington Consensus', and will also collapse with the American Empire. James Bovard has an article on one of the latest and worst extremes of this nonsense:

Thailand’s war on drugs — vigorously approved by the Bush administration — has received far less attention in the United States than it deserves.

When [former Thai Prime Minister] Thaksin launched his anti-drug campaign in 2003, he declared that “in this war, drug dealers must die.” Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Nor Matha promised that drug dealers “will be put behind bars or even vanish without a trace. Who cares? They are destroying our country.”

Throughout Thailand, local officials set up black boxes or mailboxes and encouraged people to accuse anyone suspected of involvement with narcotics — no evidence required. Many people used the anonymous system to accuse business competitors or personal enemies... “Most of [the victims] got killed on the way back from the police office. People found their name on a blacklist, went to the police, then ended up dead.”

Drugs were planted on the bodies of many victims after they were murdered. Amnesty International complained, “Authorities are not permitting pathologists to perform autopsies and bullets are reportedly being removed from the corpses.” ...

Governors were permitted to keep 35 percent of all the drug assets they confiscated, and police detectives were entitled to skim 15 percent of the loot.... Many Thai drug gangs operate under the protection of politicians and the military and appeared to easily survive the Thaksin purge....

According to the U.S. State Department, 307 people were killed worldwide in international terrorist attacks in 2003. The Bush administration endorsed and helped finance an anti-drug crackdown that killed more than seven times as many people in a single country as were killed by all the international terrorists in the world that year.

Go read the whole thing.