Archive for June, 2011


Call Off the Global Drug War

Posted: June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


It is obvious to everyone that the “Drug War” is working about as well as Prohibition did.

So it should be obvious to everyone that doing more of what we are doing is simply not going to work.  Not only that, but the damage it is doing to Mexico and Colombia, not to mention all the countries in between, is horrific and growing daily.

So why don’t we do what is needed?  Because that would be an admission of the failure of existing policy, and that can’t be permitted.  So it won’t happen.  So we go on, killing thousands, destroying the lives of millions, and fostering international organized crime – so a bunch of right wing politicians can save face.



Call Off the Global Drug War
Published: June 16, 2011

IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.


As I have often mentioned in this space, the reason for regime change in Libya has nothing to do with pretensions about humanitarian concerns over the regime’s brutal repressiveness (which is undeniable).  But if that were the real concern, there would be equal amounts of handwringing, if not more, over what is happening at the moment in Syria and Bahrain.

So why the regime change in Libya?  It has a lot more to do with social democracy in Libya than it does oil, though that is doubtless a component.  Here is a summary from Counterpunch about the real reasons why NATO is working so hard to displace Gaddafi and why Obama is so desperate to do so, he is willing to ignore his own lawyers in a hell-bent effort to pursue this war of empire.



The Perils of Insubordination

Why Regime Change in Libya?


It is very tempting to seek the answer to the question “why regime change in Libya?” in oil/energy. While oil is undoubtedly a concern, it falls short of a satisfactory explanation because major Western oil companies were already extensively involved in the Libyan oil industry. Indeed, since Gaddafi relented to the US-UK pressure in 1993 and established “normal” economic and diplomatic relations with these and other Western countries, major US and European oil companies struck quite lucrative deals with the National Oil Corporation of Libya.

So, the answer to the question “why the imperialist powers want to do away with Gaddafi” has to go beyond oil, or the laughable “humanitarian concerns.” Perhaps the question can be answered best in the light of the following questions: why do these imperialist powers also want to overthrow Hugo Cavez of Venezuela, Fidel Castro (and/or his successors) of Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Rafael Correa Delgado of Ecuador, Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Bashar Al-assad of Syria and Evo Morales of Bolivia? Or, why did they overthrow Mohammad Mossadeq of Iran, Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, Kusno Sukarno of Indonesia, Salvador Allende of Chile, Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras?

What does Gaddafi have in common with these nationalist/populist leaders? The question is of course rhetorical and the answer is obvious: like them Gaddafi is guilty of insubordination to the proverbial godfather of the world: US imperialism, and its allies. Like them, he has committed the cardinal sin of challenging the unbridled reign of global capital, of not following the economic “guidelines” of the captains of global finance, that is, of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and World Trade Organization; as well as of refusing to join US military alliances in the region. Also like other nationalist/populist leaders, he advocates social safety net (or welfare state) programs—not for giant corporations, as is the case in imperialist countries, but for the people in need.

NATO has poked the bear of the internet (which responded by announcing that it’s actually a hydra).

Anthropomorphic confusion aside, a NATO security report about “Anonymous”—the mysterious “hacktivist” group responsible for attacks on MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Amazon and, most recently, Sony—has led the underground group to respond by cautioning NATO, “This is no longer your world. It is our world – the people’s world.”

(More on Spain Nabs Alleged ‘Anonymous’ PlayStation Network Hackers)

NATO’s report, issued last month, warned about the rising tide of politically-motivated cyberattacks, singling out Anonymous as the most sophisticated and high-profile of the known hacktivist groups:

“Today, the ad hoc international group of hackers and activists is said to have thousands of operatives and has no set rules or membership. It remains to be seen how much time Anonymous has for pursuing such paths. The longer these attacks persist the more likely countermeasures will be developed, implemented, the groups will be infiltrated and perpetrators persecuted,” the report read, also asking, “Can one invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty after a cyber attack? And what response mechanisms should the Alliance employ against the attacker? Should the retaliation be limited to cyber means only, or should conventional military strikes also be considered?”

In response, Anonymous issued a lengthy statement (Google-cached version; the site is having server issues currently) that says, in part:

“We do not wish to threaten anybody’s way of life. We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody. We do not wish to terrorize any nation.

We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people – who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place.

The government makes the law. This does not give them the right to break it. If the government was doing nothing underhand or illegal, there would be nothing ’embarassing’ [sic] about Wikileaks revelations, nor would there have been any scandal emanating from HBGary. The resulting scandals were not a result of Anonymous’ or Wikileaks’ revelations, they were the result of the CONTENT of those revelations. And responsibility for that content can be laid solely at the doorstep of policymakers who, like any corrupt entity, naively believed that they were above the law and that they would not be caught.

A lot of government and corporate comment has been dedicated to ‘how we can avoid a similar leak in the future’. Such advice ranges from better security, to lower levels of clearance, from harsher penalties for whistleblowers, to censorship of the press.

Our message is simple: Do not lie to the people and you won’t have to worry about your lies being exposed. Do not make corrupt deals and you won’t have to worry about your corruption being laid bare. Do not break the rules and you won’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it.”

It goes on to warn, “do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous. Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake. If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place. If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent.”

Quite when Anonymous started modeling itself after fictional terrorist organizations is unclear, but the message is just the opposite: NATO is on warning. How they’ll respond to this—if they’ll respond—remains to be seen, but I doubt that I’m the only person hoping that any response will be far more measured than bringing up conventional military strikes again.


This article is a good description of how Washington’s pro-business bias is so strong that even when the hemisphere’s poorest country cuts an advantageous deal for its people, Washington will unhesitatingly torpedo it if it doesn’t benefit the mega-oil companies – and the U.S. will go so far as to ensure that the president responsible is not allowed to be re-elected.

Beacon of freedom, liberty and justice-for-all, my butt. This is Sarah Palin’s “exceptional” country?



New WikiLeaked Cables Reveal: How Washington and Big Oil Fought PetroCaribe in Haiti

René Préval, who passed Haiti’s presidential sash to Joseph Michel Martelly on May 14, was described by U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson as “Haiti’s indispensable man” in a Jun. 1, 2009 Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks last December.

Former Haitian President René Préval and Venezuela President Hugo Chavez in this file photo. Leaked cables reveal that the U.S. was primarily irked by Préval’s dealings with Cuba and Venezuela, where the former Haitian president was unable “to resist displaying some show of independence or contrariness in dealing with [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez,” as US Ambassador Sanderson griped in a 2007 cable. Sanderson judged him “still moderately popular, and likely the only politician capable of imposing his will on Haiti – if so inclined.” At the same time, “dealing with Préval is a challenge, occasionally frustrating and sometimes rewarding,” she continued. “He is wary of change and suspicious of outsiders, even those who seek his success.”

Préval’s suspicions about “outsiders” seeking his “success” turned out to be justified. In two rounds of presidential and legislative elections held in November and March, Washington aggressively intervened, pushing out of the presidential run-off Jude Célestin, the candidate of Préval’s party Inite (Unity), to replace him with Martelly, a neo-Duvalierist konpa singer who vocally supported the 1991 and 2004 coups d’état against former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Now the U.S. has even challenged the legislative races which would have given Inite virtual control of the Parliament, and hence approval of the President-designated Prime Minister, Haiti’s most powerful executive post. With U.S. support, challenges were brought against Inite victories in 17 Deputy and two Senate races. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) ruled in favor of only 15 challenges, leaving four seats with the original Inite winners. The U.S. is not even letting this mild, partial impertinence go, yanking the U.S. travel visas of six of the CEP’s eight members.

How did Haiti’s “indispensable man” become so dispensable? Why has Washington so brazenly intervened in Haiti’s elections to limit the power of Préval’s party and oust Inite’s presidential candidate from the run-off?

Clues to the answer lie in secret U.S. Embassy cables which the transparency- advocacy group WikiLeaks has provided to Haïti Liberté. The cables reveal that the U.S. was primarily irked by Préval’s dealings with Cuba and Venezuela, where the former Haitian president was unable “to resist displaying some show of independence or contrariness in dealing with [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez,” as Sanderson griped in a 2007 cable.

U.S. dismay began when Préval signed – the very day of his inauguration – a deal to join Venezuela’s PetroCaribe alliance, under which Haiti would buy oil paying only 60% to Venezuela up front with the remainder payable over 25 years at 1% interest. The leaked U.S. Embassy cables provide a fascinating look at how Washington sought to discourage, scuttle and sabotage the PetroCaribe deal despite its unquestionable benefits, under which the Haitian government “ would save USD 100 million per year from the delayed payments,” as the Embassy itself recognized in a 2006 cable.

A review of PetroCaribe’s genesis and the Embassy’s response to it provides a window into understanding why the U.S. has been so forceful in backing the U.S.-centric Martelly team over Préval’s two-timing sector….