Q: You've spoken out against the War on Drugs, explaining that it'sessentially a means to lock up poor people, that it actually increasesdrug use, and that it serves as an excuse to control foreign nations.Would you briefly elaborate on these points?A: Let's grant that there's a drug problem, for the sake of argument --drugs meaning, you know, cocaine, marijuana and so on. Suppose youaccept that. How do you deal with it? There are studies -- governmentstudies and others -- that say that the most cost-effective way isprevention and treatment. More expensive and less effective is policing;still less effective and more expensive is border interdiction. And themost expensive and the least effective is out-of-country operations,like what they call "fumigation" -- which is, in fact, chemical warfare-- in Colombia and so forth. I've seen it firsthand; it really ischemical warfare. So those are the basic facts, and I don't think anyonequestions them very much.Now take a look at the way the Drug War is conducted over the past 40years. It goes back farther, but start from 40 years ago: There's verylittle spent on prevention and treatment. There's a lot on policing, aton of stuff on border control and a lot on out-of-country operations.And the effect on the availability of drugs is almost undetectable; drugprices don't change on measures of availability. So there are twopossibilities: Either those conducting the Drug War are lunatics, orthey have another purpose.Well, in the law, there's a standard way of trying to determineintention, and that's by looking at predictable consequences. You have40 years of experience with almost no effect on what they claim they'retrying to do, and you have very predictable consequences -- in fact,several. At home, you lock up the people who are essentiallysuperfluous. The economy shifted dramatically in the '70s away fromdomestic production and towards financialization and the export ofproduction. That leaves a class problem: What do you do with unemployedworkers? We happen to have a very close class/race correlation inAmerica, so that means, overwhelmingly, black males and Hispanic males.Well, you know, we're a civilized country, so you don't assassinate them-- you stick them in jail. And, in fact, the incarceration rate hasbeen shooting up, especially since the early '80s; it's now way out ofline with any other comparable country. Meanwhile, overseas, the War onDrugs contributes to counterinsurgency operations. So a rationalconclusion is that those are the purposes. The only alternative I canthink of is sheer lunacy....'
.: Noam Sayin'? The High Times Interview with Noam Chomsky