The War on Drugs has a short but powerful history in our country. First announced by Richard Nixon in 1971, it represents a series of initiatives to prohibit drug use and trafficking within the United States. It also targets countries in South America who illegally supply drugs to the black markets in our country. The United States has provided military aid and intervention in South American countries in the name of choking off this drug supply. Incredibly, some Americans still mistakenly believe the War on Drugs to be a well-intentioned effort to stop the flow of dangerous drugs into our neighborhoods and communities.
Recently, journalist Dawn Paley has argued that the War on Drugs is not so benign. In her book, Drug War Capitalism, she claims that there is something more insidious going on in this 40-year prohibition of drugs. She argues that the U. S. Government and large multinational corporations have conspired in the exploitation of poor South American countries for their own financial gain.
A War on People
Most people think that the object of this war is harmful and addictive drugs like cocaine. Paley believes otherwise. She argues that the real target is people. She alludes to the vast numbers of people of color that are incarcerated in the American prison system. But her main focus is on the poor and indigenous people in South American countries. These people are the real target of the war. An overlooked goal of the War on Drugs is to make sure that the voice of marginalized South Americans is not heard in the international community.
That is why the U. S. Government has aided military regimes and paramilitary groups. The goal is not to choke off the drug supply, but to set up a power structure that oppresses the poor and marginalized. When a favorable power structure is in place, the natural resources of these countries are easy targets for multinational corporations.
According to Paley, the military and paramilitary groups who receive aid from the U. S. are compelled to support U.S. interests. They do not act in the best interest of their own country. Instead, they protect their own power by supporting policies that favor the outside interests. In return, they receive military aid from the United States.
The key collusion is between the U. S. Government and multinational corporations. In return for U. S. military backing, these South American governments allow multinational corporations to harvest natural resources. Dawn Paley insists that this is a war about land, mineral rights and the extraction of fossil fuels. Instead of supporting the local economy, these valuable resources are taken from South American countries on the cheap. The people derive no benefit from the natural resources of their land. Instead, they are oppressed by their own government supported by the United States to benefit the interests of large corporations.
Paley hopes to awaken the people of the United States and Canada to these hard truths about the War on Drugs. She points out that the American people were able to make the connection between the war in Iraq and the large reserves of oil hidden there that we wanted to control. In the same way, she hopes that the American people can be shown the connections between the War on Drugs and the exploitation of natural resources in South America. When this happens, we will have to change our thinking about the War on Drugs that has been raging for 40 years.
Dawn Paley hopes to pull back the curtain and expose the hidden interests at work behind the War on Drugs. Her argument is that the U. S. government and multinational corporations have colluded to exploit the poor and indigenous people of South America. She hopes that the American people will wake up and reject this exploitation.