Drug War

A Retiring Drug Warrior and a Captured Kingpin Illustrate the Folly of Prohibition

The actors change, but the story stays the same.



Last week Sean Penn complained that the main point of his Rolling Stone article about Joaquín Guzmán Loera, a.k.a. El Chapo, had been lost in the hullabaloo surrounding the Mexican drug lord's dramatic but ultimately inconsequential capture. Penn said he had meant to start a conversation about the war on drugs, which he described in Rolling Stone as a disastrous failure. In my latest Forbes column, I use El Chapo's arrest and the impending retirement of a leading American drug warrior to explain the inevitability of that failure:

Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, who plans to retire next month after more than four decades in the military, recently stepped down as head of the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, a post he held for three years. In an interview with Military Times on his way out, Kelly repeated a complaint he had voiced while testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in 2014: Marijuana legalization in the United States made it harder for him to wage the war on drugs.

"The actual legalization does cause us problems because—the hypocrisy," Kelly told Military Times. "Where you stand is where you sit. So if you're a Latin American, and we're harping on them to do more to stop the flow of drugs, they say: 'Wait a minute. As we look north, the real problem is the demand. So why don't you do more to stop the demand for drugs….Why would we do more when you seem to be legalizing this stuff?'"

Kelly is right to perceive hypocrisy—or at least, grave moral inconsistency—in our current drug policies. He is also right to suggest there is something outrageous about the U.S. government's insistence that other countries bear the burden of stopping Americans from consuming intoxicants it has decided to ban. But the general's mission-oriented perspective does not allow for the possibility that the war he has been asked to wage is bound to fail because it is fundamentally at odds with human nature and the laws of economics.

Read the whole thing.


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  1. Didn’t the 1920’s illustrate the folly of Prohibition clearly enough?

    Apparently not, hence the need for frequent, loud reminders. But I don’t think too many of the great unwashed are listening. Too busy with American Idle.

    1. If you can stand it, find and read Ann Coulter’s writings defending alcohol prohibition (on public health grounds, if I remember correctly). Her arguments are awful and not cogent, but her thinking showcases the befuddlememt and moral concern-trolling tactics of the average government drug warrior.

    2. There are many, especially in law enforcement, who will say that Prohibition was a great success. It did result in Americans drinking less, with a resulting drop in alcohol related illness. So what if it also resulted in a great increase in organized crime and corruption at all levels of government? If you’re in law enforcement the former is job security, and the latter is money in your pocket.

      1. That was exactly her argument. I did not know it was fashionable with LEOs. That’s unfortunate. It’s a weak argument that ignores the violence you mentioned, or at least asserts less CAD is worth piles of dead bodies.

        1. Less coronary artery disease??

  2. Sean Penn, inadvertent tool for the Drug Warriors and Statism. Very rich indeed.
    How interviewing a ruthless mafia boss was calling out the War on Drugs? I don’t see the connection.
    Penn seems to be one of those guys who’s in awe of people with lots of power.

  3. “the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize the production and distribution of a heretofore proscribed substance was Colorado, the United States “

    Even Jacob forgot the 21st Amendment.

    1. Uruguay beat Colorado to it anyway.

    2. Hell, several of the individual states that’d prohibited mfr. & sale of liquor repealed their prohib’n before the federal one was even enacted. I’m sure you can also find much earlier legaliz’ns of various substances in many countries & localities.

  4. Ah, so to win the war on drugs, all we need to do is eliminate the demand for drugs. That should be easy, right?

    1. Drugs are legal and quite okay as long as top men say they are and they say *prescription* on the label.

    2. Totally easy. All it requires is the proper magical incantation, otherwise known as legislation. Once they get the incantation right, demand will *poof* disappear.

  5. Drugs are a battle object- especially to a motherfucking General. Drugs are no more problematic to midget-brained morality crusaders than obscenity is. Any fucking thing wandering outside and too close to the writhing brutal blockades of outraged collective ‘good’ immediately becomes a target for the heaven-seekers and Socializers.

    If a four-headed goat with owl wings wearing purple panties floated by whistling rock songs on a rainbow cloud that peppered its earthly shadow with a continuous stream of chirping neon-colored air manatees this innocent lovely fuck would be plastered and smashed under a hail of Glorah! Puhraise! Mohammed/Jesus/Bush/Clinton/Marx/John Wayne lasers.

    Because the parameter. The motherfucking walls. That wall is our salvation. It is our manifestation. The revelation of our combined strength and capability to control and dominate the undesired, the random, the individual, the essence of every fucking thing that refuses to be ruled.

    This is the FUCKING reason all of your cognition rending ideologies suck thorns from the glowing cock of travesties.

    1. Amphetamines helped win WWII!

      1. Yeah, it was a factor in the Germans’ victory.

    2. “Travesty’s Glowing Cock” is a good name for a rock band.

      1. The CD comes with its own chem trails.

      2. I read that at 1st as “Crowing Glock”.

  6. The general was way off base with, “Every medicine is probably illegal unless you take it medicinally.” Not even close to true.

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