Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

AFGHANISTAN AND THE WAR AGAINST DRUGS

Originally posted on April 1, 2009

We need to get out of Afghanistan, because its prevalent culture is essentially corrupt and our efforts to change it only result in our pouring money into the pockets of local politicians—who then give kickbacks to opium-growing warlords. Related to this, we should legalize drugs—including opium products such as heroin—and re-channel funds away from trying to block imports. This would undercut Afghanistan’s narco-economy, and it would also address the economic foundations of other narco-traffickers.

Regarding those who use drugs in our country, it would be better to practice what’s called “harm reduction.” Those who do become addicted get some rehabilitation service—some, not indefinite—mixed with a culture of moderation. Fighting the desire to become “high” (intoxicated) only wastes money—it’s another futile form of prohibition. We need a libertarian stance here, which would also give a boost to local industry and re-boot the economy. Legalization would also reduce the drain on government expenditures for prisons, guards, the load on the legal system, etc. These activities need to be left alone.

Conservatives who want to reduce government expenditures and interference should begin with these obvious frontiers. Social conservatives need to recognize that such beliefs collide with financial conservativism. It’s time to recognize that the phrase, “We can’t afford it” needs to become a mantra for the second decade of the 21st century.

Regarding the war against drugs, a recent issue of “The Economist” magazine has a similar point, that legalization is the least bad approach, that efforts at prohibition are horribly expensive and ineffective, and they create many unintended consequences of corruption and narco-states that are far worse in the big picture than the increased use of drugs. Some of that money could be better applied in a harm-reduction strategy. This conservative magazine and a number of others, plus many thoughtful people in the criminal justice system, have come to the same conclusion.

The main opposition is the mass of people who are inclined to think that we can do (and afford) anything, and that noble intentions can succeed, given enough will. There needs to be more protest that such attitudes are simplistic and naive, and that such slogans are used by demagogues for their own personal empowerment.

One Response to “AFGHANISTAN AND THE WAR AGAINST DRUGS”

  • I find this really interesting, specially the part you wrote about some of the benefits that the legalization of drugs would have.

    But there is another part I don’t understand very well… what to do you mean by unitended consequences? can you enlist them?

    About the money being better applied, what is a harm-reduction strategy? Is that a strategy designed to reduce the harm of drugs on the society if they are legalized?


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