Chomsky on Drug War: There Isn’t One

By Ben Cohen

By Ben Cohen

Chomsky trashes the government’s ‘War on Drugs’ as a meaningless slogan:

There isn’t any war on drugs. If there was a war on drugs, the

government would take measures which it knows could control the use of


And it’s pretty well understood. Years ago — maybe

twenty-five, thirty years ago — around the time Nixon’s first War on

Drugs was called, there was a big study by the army and the RAND

corporation (the main, outside advisory research bureau) analyzing the

effects on drug use of various approaches to it. They studied four. The

one that came out the most cost effective was prevention and treatment

by a large margin. Next, much more expensive and less effective, was

police work. Still less effective and more costly was border

interdiction. And least effective and most costly was out-of-country

operations like chemical warfare in Columbia. Well, the methods that

are used are the exact opposite. Most of the funding goes into

cross-border operations (least effective, most costly,) next,

interdiction and police action, and least to prevention and treatment.

And there’s pretty independent evidence that this is correct.

The reason? Fascinating, and very scary:

Out-of-country operations are just a cover for counter-insurgency, or

for clearing land in Columbia and driving out peasants so

multi-national corporations can come in for mining, and

resource-extraction, and agribusiness, and macra production, and so on.

Which is why you have (outside of Afghanistan) probably the largest

refugee population in the world in Columbia. [The War on Drugs is] not

effecting drug production. In fact, it’s going up by, I think, 25% last

year. But it’s going to continue because that wasn’t the purpose.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.