Diane Feinstein’s feeble-minded war(s) on drugs

Diana Feinstein

Senator Diane Feinstein

California Democrat and Senator Dianne Feinstein is advocating truly idiotic drug war policies. During her long senate career her neo-con leanings have been a disappointment. She was an enthusiastic participant in crafting punitive, ruinous drug war legislation and signed on to George W. Bush’s tragic international war recklessness. Two recent offenses to clear thinking and responsible legislation again show her to be dishonest and authoritarian, and unfit to be a US senator.

Doing Away With the Drugs in Afghanistan

Now, with Afghanistan becoming America’s longest war and its prospects dimming daily, Feinstein is ready to double up and forget about Obama’s promise to begin ending the war in 2011.  Senator Feinstein’s most ludicrous comments concerned the drug situation in Afghanistan. The last time this situation was favorable, from an anti-drug viewpoint, was when the Taliban were in power, prior to late 2001. This fundamentalist movement in 2000 banned the growing of opium and by 9/11 had greatly reduced the acreage of Afghanistan growing opium. UN drug office functionary Bernard Frahi, was amazed. “This is the first time that a country has decided to eliminate in one go – not gradually – these crops on its territory,” and called it “one of the most remarkable successes ever” in the UN drug fight.” As it turned out, these “successes” caused huge social turmoil by beggaring farmers and disrupting the credit system. Innumerable daughters were sold to pay off debts.

After the US invasion swept the Taliban out of control, opium growing boomed, expanded by 40-fold,  and easily makes Afghanistan the world’s largest producer of this heroin precursor. Interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News she said this:

  • WALLACE: And let me just quickly follow up on that. If Petraeus comes to the president in the spring of 2011 and says, “You know, this July deadline – I need six more months,” should that…
  • FEINSTEIN: I would say give it to him, absolutely. Now, let’s talk about the deadline. This is a transition point toward the beginning of a withdrawal or a draw down, as Petraeus said in his transcript before the armed services. And I think he has flexibility, realistically. Ten years is a long time to fight a war, particularly with what happened before the 10 years. And so we need to understand that to get the military trained, get the government online, secure and stabilize and, I think, do away with the drugs to a great extent – because the drugs are now fueling the Taliban.

Not only are her ramblings grammatically incorrect, but also logically ridiculous. Senator Feinstein sees doing away with drugs in Afghanistan as a doable, short-term goal. To achieve this simple task she advocates a major new drug war in Afghanistan. With her senate seniority she is unfortunately the chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control,chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Despite the fact that the Taliban nearly successfully eradicated opium production a decade ago, she tells us that now, “”The Taliban has morphed into one-part terrorist organization, one-part drug cartel,” and that their profits from the drug trade help finance their war against the NATO forces occupying the country. Her solution? A robust drug war in Afghanistan, including more drug agents, more helicopters, more eradication and more SWAT-style paramilitary training. Above all, her Senate report seeks to conflate terrorism with drug trade, and invokes 2006 revisions to the Patriot Act giving the DEA a free hand around the globe. I guess we will have to wait and see if the Senator’s new effort do away with drugs in Afghanistan in a year. On the tiny chance her new Afghan drug war proves to be anywhere near as effective as that of the Taliban, it will earn the enmity of the people. Well, at least those few Afghans who don’t already hate what they see as NATO invaders.

Maintaining Prohibition in the USA

Not content with extending drug war stupidity on the other side of the planet, Senator Feinstein seeks to reinvigorate the putrefying drug war back in the USA. She is actually campaigning for the continuation of cannabis prohibition and has signed up as co-chair (with a sheriff, of course) on the No on 19 against legalizing the herb in California. Rather than allow Californians the freedom of choice for a substance far safer than alcohol, she urges the continuation of the fatally flawed war on marijuana, including yearly CAMP eradication raids. Feinstein continues to promote legislation aimed at persecuting the tens of millions of Americans who find medical or other benefit from cannabis.

Hundred Years’ War on Drugs

February 10, 1909 began like most days across the 46 states of the USA.  However, in one way that day a century ago would have terrible consequences in future decades. The day before Congress had voted its first drug law, and with it, the roots of the counterproductive, destructive and continuing Hundreds Years’ War on Drugs.

In our current age, when drug prohibition, enforcement and related imprisonment are among the main functions of the federal government, it is sobering to remember that up until 100 years ago there were no federal drug laws. No drugs were illegal, except in some anti-Chinese city laws. Most drugs were freely available to all 76 million Americans as medical tinctures, including opium, coca and cannabis. Along with no drug laws, there was no drug problem.  Now, after a long century of ever-tightening laws and prohibitions serving an ever-growing drug war bureaucracy, we have a monstrous drug war problem and a failed attempt to solve a non-problem.

The sad ebbing of American freedom and triumph of bureaucratic authoritarians since that first drug law passed is skillfully documented by author and California NORML Director Dale Gieringer writing in COUNTERPUNCH. Gieringer notes  the insidious worldwide drug war control of indigenous plants such as cannabis in UN Treaties, while entirely ignoring nicotine cigarettes and alcohol as drugs. See Marking 100 Years of Failed Drug Prohibition: The Opium Exclusion Act of 1909.

License to Kill: Drug war idiocy in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, many predict, will become Barack Obama’s Viet Nam War. The situation in that land-locked country is becoming dire. The Taliban control ever more territory and have recently thrown a choke hold onto military supplies coming into the country with attacks on bridges and convoys.

The latest strategy for NATO as directed by the USA seems to redirect military efforts into a war on drugs. U.S. General John Craddock, the NATO Supreme Commander reasons that the $100 million dollar poppy and heroin industries finance the Taliban. He is proclaiming that military action will commence “within days” against a new target in Afghanistan, the opium, heroin and cannabis industries. Under new policy, civilians involved in the poppy trade will become military target coequal to Taliban fighters.

Does Craddock not know or recall that there was a recent model of success in eradicating opium production in Afghanistan, not ten years ago? The Taliban themselves accomplished this feat, for the first time in Afgan history, after a decree in July 2000. Opium acreage reportedly dropped to nearly zero.  And while the good news is the Taliban successfully banned opium production, the bad news in they also banned, pork, pig, pig oil, anything made from human hair, satellite dishes, cinematography, and equipment that produces the joy of music, pool tables, chess, masks, alcohol, tapes, computers, VCRs, television, anything that propagates sex and is full of music, wine, lobster, nail polish, firecrackers, statues, sewing catalogs, pictures, Christmas cards.

American anti-drug bureaucrast were so happy with the (apparent) eradication of the opium trade, the Bush administration actually awarded 43 million dollars to the Taliban theocrats ruling Afghanistan and playing host to Osama bin Laden less than 4 months before September 11, 2001. Less than 6 months after this payment, , the USA attacked Afghanistan, over seven long years ago. At first the American effort seemed to work out well,; the Taliban fled from cities into the countryside and into Pakistan. Much of the populace was glad to see them and their sharia law. But since then, Afghanistan, ignored once America attacked Iraq, has slid into deep peril.  Never in this seven years has the situation looked worse than currently, with the Taliban control closing in everyday on provincial capital and Kabul. The Karzai government is disliked. Wariness of, and weariness with, foreign military occupation are ripe.

Much of the population is unemployed and most civilians with jobs work in the profitable opium industry, the country’s cash crop. If the NATO commander, US General Craddock has his way, this broad swath of the Afghan population may soon come under fire from US (and other NATO) guns.In a bizarre leap of drug war logic, General Craddock proposes that no distinction is now to be made between customary NATO target -the Taliban fighters – and this new group of targets. These Afghans producing and trading opium comprise a good proportion of the populace. Such policy is, thankfully, illegal under international law. The German news magazine Der Spiegel brought this policy and its illegality to the world’s attention in January 2009. Entitled, NATO High Commander Issues Illegitimate Order to Kill, the article documents how General Craddock still argues that such policy is legal and correct. He is opposed by other NATO leaders and General McKiernan.

Barack Obama rightfully claimed that George Bush took his eye off the ball of Afghanistan and shorted the effort to nab or kill bin Laden. Now that he is president, he better put his eye on the ball and decide what America;s objectives in that poor, mountainous country, larger than Iraq. Hopefully his policy will not include gunning down agricultural workers from helicopter gunships.

There is some hope: Head of US Central Command,  David Petraeus recalled  the country’s long history. He was quoted by The Washington Post,  “Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires,” he said. “We cannot take that history lightly.” He concedes conditions have deterioated in the last two years but nonetheless encourages an surge-type sustained advance into the countryside to win hearts and minds.

Even such sensible policy may fail. But is is incompatible with Craddock’s license-to-kill the populace for performing the one activity that can help them make a living. Barack Obama stands on the precipice in Afghanistan. He should not be guided by more drug war idiocy. The drug war in the USA has become an enormous boondoggle serving only those in its employ. American drug warriors can not even keep drugs out their own prisons. Now the US military will solve the Afghanistan opium problem by killing Afghan civilians?