Edited by Edward H. Crane and David Boaz
Cato, $24.95, 703 pages
REVIEWED BY WILLIAM H. PETERSON
Other striking chapters include "The War on Drugs" and "The International War on Drugs." Analysts David Boaz and Timothy Lynch recall how Congress, armed with the 18th Amendment, prohibited alcohol consumption in the 1920s. But prohibition failed abysmally, corrupting many courts and police forces, eliciting gangsters across the United States, much violent crime, swelling prisons, and hardly slowing down drinking, as the speakeasy replaced the saloon.
Was the lesson learned? Mr. Boaz and Mr. Lynch say federal drug laws are constitutionally weak, breed high levels of crime, waste manpower (the Drug Enforcement Adminstration alone has 9,000 agents and support staff), spend some $19 billion at the federal level, and in effect funnel more that $40 billion a year into our criminal underworld run by base politicians, felons, police on the bribe, and even terrorists. Yes, drug abuse is a problem for those involved in it, say the authors, but it is more of a moral and medical than a criminal problem. To the extent it is a criminal problem, they'd shift it to the states.
Cato analysts Ted Galen Carpenter and Ian Vasquez similarly find the foreign side of the war on drugs counterproductive and very expensive. As they say, ". . . the international drug war is both undesirable and unwinnable." They would terminate Plan Colombia and other anti-drug programs in the Andean region of South America. They censure efforts of the U.S. government to pressure Afghanistan's fragile government of president Hamid Karzai to crack down on drug crop cultivation.
William H. Peterson is an adjunct scholar at the Heritage Foundation and the Ludwig von Mises Institute.