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America's Dirty War on Drugs 
Posted by FoM on July 11, 2001 at 08:58:59 PT
By Christopher Hitchens, Guardian
Source: Guardian Unlimited
Good to see that sanity can sometimes be as infectious as insanity. All it takes, apparently, is one lucid moment on the part of one public figure, and a whole realm of illusion can be dissipated. The Peter Lilley moment on soft drugs, closely followed by the David Blunkett one, gives some reason to hope that the American nightmare is not in our future.Here is what happened in my hometown of Washington DC during the Congressional elections of 1998. A local initiative was attached to the ballot, proposing the "decriminalisation" of marijuana for medical purposes. 
After the votes had been counted, it was abruptly announced that the result would not be disclosed. The United States Congress, which has ultimate jurisdiction over municipal government in the capital of the free world, ruled that, though it could not prevent a vote being taken, it could prevent the outcome from being made public. Right away, I knew what I had already guessed - that the citizens had voted overwhelmingly to allow the use of cannabis for the treatment of cancer and glaucoma. But it took a protracted lawsuit to get the ballots counted and the voters decision made known, only to be negated by Congress once again. In every other state where this simple question has been mooted at election times, it has carried the day by unanswerable majorities. In each instance, Congress or the federal government has intervened to have the decision set aside. The word for this, in commonplace vernacular, is "denial". The domestic war against the enemy within, which was begun as Richard Nixon's last desperate gamble for panicky popularity, is now in the same shape as the rest of his legacy. It reeks of corruption, police brutality and overweening bureaucracy. It also involves a demented overseas entanglement, with off-the-record US military aircraft running shady missions over Colombia and Peru, and high-level collaboration with ruthless and unaccountable "Special Forces". I simply cannot remember the last time, in public or private, that I spoke with a single person who believes this makes the least particle of sense. The opinion pages can occasionally drum up a lone, dull voice, but it's almost invariably that of a paid spokesman for a "war" machine that enjoys funding in inverse proportion to its victories. Again, I know very few habitual drug users, but I also don't know anyone who would be more than two degrees of separation from a reliable supplier, whether that turned out to be a gangsta or a cop. A striking fact is the predominance of honest and intelligent conservatives on the sane side of the argument. The first editor with any "profile" to call for legalisation was William F Buckley, the old lion of the rightwing National Review. He has been joined by George Schultz, formerly Reagan's secretary of state, and by Gary Johnson, the Republican governor of New Mexico, among many others. The "libertarian" journals have been ahead of the "liberal" ones for the most part. In an eerie way, this matches the recent shift of opinion on capital punishment, where conservatives have again been taking the most moral and political risks. (In both cases, the common factor may be Bill Clinton, the Nixon of the liberals, who expanded the drug war just as he increased the scope of the death penalty.) Three decades of this grotesque, state-sponsored racketeering have led to unbelievable levels of official corruption and to an unheard-of assault on civil and political liberties. Colombia doesn't look any more like the US as a result, but the US does look a lot more like Colombia. The actual resources expended would have more than paid for national health care: the potential revenue from legal, and therefore clean, narcotics would rebuild the cities from the ground up. A Lack of Diplomacy Edward Clay, until yesterday the British high commissioner in Cyprus, described Dr Marios Matsakis, the Cypriot MP who is leading protests at the British bases in his homeland, as "A medical monkey up a stick" after he climbed a British radio mast. But I am surprised that the opposition didn't manifest itself sooner. I remember in 1985 being invited to Sunday lunch by the then president, Spyros Kyprianou, at the presidential summer home in the Troodos mountains - a fine mansion partly built by Arthur Rimbaud, and once the seat of the British governor. Lunch was viley disrupted by the ear-splitting clatter of a huge RAF helicopter, which thundered up the valley and hovered offensively overhead. There was no possible "mission" for it to be performing, and even if there had been, a polite phone call from RAF HQ wouldn't have been out of place. The humiliation was extreme: the sense of a semi-colony intense. At about the same time, my old friend George Lanitis, then press officer at the Cyprus high commission in London, was driving his car through one of the roads traversing the "Sovereign based areas" and got pulled over for speeding. His diplomatic ID was waived away, even though he was accredited to the United Kingdom and these areas are claimed by HMG as British. On receipt of the summons and the fine, he paid good humouredly by cheque. The cheque was returned because it was written in Cyprus pounds, which are worth about 1.65 each. If we need to watch our officials at home, we need to hire professional Lynxes to watch how they behave overseas. Open and Shut Cases Why is defending the principle of "universal jurisdiction" in human rights cases like calling for the reunification of the Parthenon marbles? Because you have to meet with the same bloody stupid argument every day, that's why. In the case of the marbles, there's always some genius to argue that if we do the right thing then we will have to return the winged lions to the Babylonians. (Though in that case, of course, what strikes the trained eye is precisely the absence of any jurisdiction.) With Pinochet and Milosevic and the rest, it's where will it all end and why wasn't Henry V tried at Nuremberg for killing the French POWs at Agincourt? Joyce Horman, the widow of Charles Horman, is currently calling on the Chilean courts to ask the US government for help in elucidating the murder of her husband in 1973. (Some of you will remember the late Jack Lemmon playing Charles's father in Costa-Gavras's Missing. As a result, Judge Garzon in Santiago is officially forwarding 50 judicial questions to Henry Kissinger in New York. This move will help break a disgraceful official silence in Washington that has lasted, counting the present one, through seven administrations. Perhaps Kissinger, like his client and friend, Pinochet, will decide to develop amnesia and dementia. But the point is still made: those denied justice in any country including their own can now at least begin to seek redress elsewhere. That's where and how universal jurisdiction begins. Where it all ends is up to us. Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the Nation. Francis Wheen returns in the autumn. Newshawk: ddddSource: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Christopher Hitchens, GuardianPublished: Wednesday, July 11, 2001Copyright: 2001 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: letters guardian.co.ukWebsite: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Related Articles:Special Report: Drugs in Britainhttp://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/drugs/CannabisNews Articles - UKhttp://cannabisnews.com/thcgi/search.pl?K=UK 
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Comment #3 posted by observer on July 11, 2001 at 14:08:31 PT
Hatred for Potheads
jAHn writes: Now in this century, you could hear a Prohibitionist exclamating that "POTHEADS ARE AN ELITIST GROUP OF HUMANS WHOSE ONLY PURPOSE IN LIFE IS TO GET WHAT they WANT!" Yes, so true. Tons of examples."What's really going on here is people are trying to legalize smoking marijuana and they're using cancer and AIDS patients as a prop," said Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., at a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee's criminal justice subcommittee. . . . "This is really an effort by the druggies to legalize marijuana," said Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who was the only Democrat in the room for most of the hearing, urged lawmakers to be civil and said he respected all the witnesses for agreeing to show up and present their views. "I don't respect Mr. Kampia," Barr said. "You're not a wonderful person. You're doing something despicable, and you're putting a nice face on it." . . . Subcommittee chairman Mark Souder, R-Ind., urged civility from all participants but added to Kampia: "You are an articulate advocate for an evil position."( US: Wire: Marijuana Sparring Before Hearing, Tue, 27 Mar 2001, http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n545/a08.html )
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Comment #2 posted by jAHn on July 11, 2001 at 11:03:50 PT
The part that gets me about this Drug War...
...is a simple fact stated by Most Prohibitionists in the earlier years of this Messy Monster...Does anyone remember when these folk would state that Cannabis/Hemp makes you live your life in a Stupor, a dumbed-face daze, Losing MANY of your brain cells, in turn, rendering YOU Unintelligent with a sucky memory?  Now in this century, you could hear a Prohibitionist exclamating that "POTHEADS ARE AN ELITIST GROUP OF HUMANS WHOSE ONLY PURPOSE IN LIFE IS TO GET WHAT they WANT!" That "potheads are trying to usurp the gub'n'mint by Mass-Minded Metaphorology in a Metabolistic and Metaphysical Matter of Monkey Man--ned--Mess!!!!" I know one of us would probably have a tough time locating these EXACT examples, but HEY!  Be Honest...They're not as nearly AS Far-Fetched as the REAL-TIME lies the "Grand Prohibitor" tends to dish out...Cruel and Unusually, not to mention. Take Care whoever lays they're well-fed eyes on this!YOU ARE "ELITE"...        and we're going to BRING THIS MONSTER out of its' closet.  Wear a t-shirt that says, "I WORSHIP homeless People" and see how far you get in life.  it's a SMALL world..................when the smoke clears outta the room and our "braindead", DEVIL-WEED influenced Minds can see ((in shorter words, After All))
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Comment #1 posted by smileysmiles on July 11, 2001 at 10:52:39 PT
I reckon...
...that the whole of Europe will legalize (France being last to yeild). Then (and this is where the weed kicked in) theres some sort of brave new world with zones for ideals rather than races. I think there was a computer game about it to. Anyway... this would mean..!? Nah. I think I'm talking out of my arse. Let me check... legalize... yeild.. zones.. ideals... wellllll... it's 50 50. Could go either way. 
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