Monday, February 23, 2009


Now that I have your attention, please join us for third Enosinian Society debate of the 2009 Spring semester on Wednesday, February 25th at 8:00 pm at The Honors Building, 714 21st St, to debate

Resolved: The "War on Drugs" is ineffective.

Proposition: Michael Herman
Opposition: Steven Glinert

In 1971, Richard Nixon declared "War on Drugs" in an attempt to reduce illegal drug trade and curb the supply, use, and demand for illegal psychoactive substances. The War on Drugs, led by the United States and including other countries involved in illegal drug trafficking, is a military, political and education effort that seeks to control substances deemed dangerous and undesirable. Each year the Drug Enforcement Agency seizes millions of pounds of illegal drugs, collaborates with countries to bring down drug producers and smugglers, and protects the US population from the dangerous societal and personal side-effects of illegal drugs. However, many see the War on Drugs not only as an illegal form of prohibition and an usurpation of states' rights to control interstate commerce, but also as a policy that exacerbates the vicious cycle of poverty perpetuating an underclass through harsh anti-drug punishments. Perhaps the War on Drugs is a government policy actively making our country safer, but is it effective? Is the War on Drugs mentality of "good versus evil" and "just say no" too simplistic for such a complex issue? Should certain drugs be decriminalized and charges lessened for drug related offenses? Or would scaling back the War on Drugs open the door to a stronger drug market, easier access to money for non-state actors, and more violent crime? With its $40 billion price tag, the War on Drugs deserves a thorough analysis of whether it truly protects those vulnerable to exploitative qualities of drugs or whether it wastes time and money.

Join us for a heated debate the merits and weaknesses of the War on Drugs.

And while this "policy paper" may come back to bite me sometime in the future (just deal with my unfounded paranoia of supplying my own opposition research), here's a snippet of my remarks from the February 18 debate on nuclear weapons. I debated for the proposition (but would have felt a bit more comfortable on the other side):

"Witness the first serious flaw in the deterrence argument. Deterrence depends on a delicate balance of technological prowess between actors, a balance which, if disrupted, could easily neutralize the second-strike capability of one actor and enhance the first-strike capability of the other. Deterrence depends on a constant symmetry of capabilities, which in turn requires a constant arms race. As we’ve seen, arms races are very costly affairs for which societies bear the burden. States’ resources are being poured into expensive weapons systems and defense projects, crowding out investment in other sectors. And if one actor falls behind the other so as to render their second-strike capability moot, the aggressor could launch a nuclear attack with impunity, safe in the knowledge that it could prevent sustaining a nuclear response. And as the United States enters the new century as the sole world superpower, we stand on the verge of obtaining nuclear primacy, in that we may soon possess the ability to launch a full-scale nuclear attack while destroying the second-strike capability of other nuclear powers. This scenario challenges the logic of deterrence."

No comments:

Post a Comment