Pubdate: Sun, 30 Sep 2007
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2007 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Robert Buddan
Note: Robert Buddan lectures in the Department of Government, 
University of the West Indies, Mona.
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


The United States has maintained that Jamaica must be kept on a watch 
list of major transit and illicit producer countries of narcotics 
because it has more than 5,000 hectares of land in ganja production. 
Jamaican authorities are angry because the report fails to reflect 
improved anti-narcotics activities and hurts Jamaica's reputation by 
placing it in the bad company of 20 countries around the world. The 
greater problem with the report is that it fails to recognise that 
the U.S.'s role in the drug war is a cause of failure, and the nature 
of the world system causes all countries to be losing this war.

American citizens spend US$100 billion on illegal drugs each year, 
according to two authors. But U.S. anti-drug efforts have focused 
largely on blaming drug traffickers and in cutting off supply. The 
authors, Collett and Merill, say real success can only be achieved by 
reducing demand. Worse, a report from the Washington Post (2007) said 
that with the collapse of communism and globalisation, the 
international drug trade is thriving like never before. But a British 
report to the government in 2005 said that law enforcement officials 
seize less than 20 per cent of the cocaine and heroin produced each 
year; and criminal gangs make US$400 to US$500 billion each year off 
drugs, says the U.N., more than most countries of the world make.

Americans want drug producers to plan crops. But with the demand and 
price being what they are, honest farmers are doing the opposite. 
They are planting or renting their land to others to plant coca 
instead of bananas and corn as the prices of these fall and they lose 
markets due to liberalisation. The U.S. and the Europeans are 
shooting themselves in the foot, challenging preferential trade in 
sugar and bananas, leading to preferred trade in coca and cannabis as 
the typical response

The U.S. response is typical to that of Plan Colombia. It approved 
US$4.7 billion to fight Colombian paramilitary drug traffickers. But 
98 per cent of the money was spent to strengthen the Colombian Armed 
Forces rather than on building the Colombian economy and the 
peasantry. In fact, 70 per cent of the money helps the U.S. economy, 
specifically the military-industrial complex. It is used to buy 
U.S.-built helicopters and weapons for the Colombian military and to 
pay security firms to spray herbicides on thousands of acres of coca 
and cannabis.

The Colombian traffickers have responded by increasing the territory 
under coca production. They now control territory the size of 
Switzerland and the production of coca keeps increasing. Yet, the 
U.S. has designed a plan similar to Plan Colombia for Mexico as the 
threat moves closer and closer to the U.S. homeland. It doesn't only 
exist on the Southern border (Mexico) either, but on the Northern one 
as well, specifically the Canadian border. The U.S. might have to 
create a Plan Columbia for British Columbia.

The Washington Post said that British Columbia (B.C.) is now home to 
the greatest number of organised crime syndicates in the world. 
B.C.'s production of marijuana accounts for six per cent of the GDP 
of the province and employs more persons than mining and logging 
combined. Canada is now growing high potency marijuana under modern 
hydroponic conditions.

War on Drugs Failing

The American report ducks the responsibility of the Americans and 
Europeans themselves. It hides the fact that the war on drugs is 
failing 36 years since Richard Nixon launched it. It is failing for a 
number of reasons. It has not addressed demand and the power of the 
U.S. dollar. It has been fought as a military war with the U.S. 
military-industrial complex and gun manufacturers reaping huge 
profits. But it is also failing because of the world system in which 
the U.S. and the rest of the world are embedded as one.

The two biggest global industries, for example, are the arms and drug 
industries. The United States is a major player in both. Marijuana 
production in the U.S. is itself worth US$25 billion annually, one of 
its top three agricultural crops along with soya beans and corn. In 
short, the U.S. economy is embedded in a world system from which its 
economy is benefiting from legal and illegal trade.

The presidential report has failed to analyse the problem for what it 
really is. It is a problem of the world economy. The United States 
economy is a large part of this world economy. It is a consumer 
market. Americans spend US$100 billion on illegal drugs each year, as 
we have seen. The U.S. is also a world financial centre. In 1998, 
Bill Clinton said that US$100 billion in drug money was laundered 
through the U.S. financial system each year.

The U.S. has the most multinationals around the world. Drug money is 
used in sophisticated ways to buy a range of consumer goods on the 
black market to the profit of these MNCs while U.S. law enforcement 
has not been able to stop it and CEOs say they can do little about 
it. The U.S. is the world's leading trader nation, and according to 
the U.N., the drug trade makes up eight per cent of world trade. The 
U.S. is the world's leading military power and its 
military-industrial complex benefits from budgets to fight the drug 
trade. The United States is the leading foreign policy power in the 
world and its drug war determines which countries are friendly to the 
U.S. and should not be sanctioned in this war.

Globalising the Trade

The U.S. is the leading world power and has more influence over the 
way the world economic system is organised than any other country 
has. Therefore, the performance of the world economy is a matter over 
which the U.S. has a direct and indirect influence over the 
distribution of world income, which is becoming more unequal, and 
world resources, which continue to flow in favour of the rich countries.

Raymond Kendall, Secretary General of Interpol, sums up that, 
"Globalisation and its many manifestations mean that borders of all 
sorts are becoming increasingly difficult for governments to define, 
let alone maintain. International drug trafficking has been aided by 
the explosion in computer and telecommunications technology and by 
worldwide transportation systems. These same facilities, as well as 
advances in the banking and services sectors, also benefit money 
launderers. There is no doubt that the illegal trade in narcotics is 
increasingly interwoven with the regular economy on a national as 
well as international level."

The U.S. report on transit and producing countries takes the wrong 
perspective. It does a country-by-country study of the problem rather 
than taking the world system as a whole to find out what it is about 
the way the entire system works that makes drug and gun trafficking 
and money laundering the problem that it is for all countries. This 
is because U.S. policy is only interested in stopping the flow of 
drugs into the United States. What the U.S. must do is raise 
questions about the global order itself and what is wrong with it. 
The catch is that it does not want to question the very globalisation 
that it is promoting, and that is why we are all losing the war on drugs.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake