RadioWHO: The Longest-Running War in America’s History—Rebecca Gordon

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reports, a person in the U.S. is arrested for cannabis violations approximately every 40 seconds.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Reports, a person in the U.S. is arrested for cannabis violations approximately every 40 seconds.

Before there was a War on Terror there was a War on Drugs, and it is the longest-running war in America’s history. It has caused just as much damage, destruction, and loss of life as any war in the traditional sense.

The drug war in Mexico has reached unprecedented levels of violence. The US government’s involvement in Mexico’s drug war now mirrors its involvement in the War on Terror in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

The consequences of these interventions have been disastrous, both for ordinary people abroad—in places like Mexico, Iraq and Afghanistan—as well as here at home.

Police militarization, the prison-industrial complex, mass surveillance, loss of privacy, the institutionalization of torture: for 40 years and counting, the drug war has been the pretext for these threats to our civil liberties.

My guest today, Rebecca Gordon, teaches philosophy at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of the book Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States. She is also a regular contributor to TomDispatch.com and her latest article is titled “Can You Say “Blowback” in Spanish? The Failed War on Drugs in Mexico and the United States.”

We focus our discussion primarily on three big questions:

What exactly is the US government up to in Mexico?

Given the billions of dollars involved in not just the drug trade itself, but the “drug-war market” globally (the money spent “fighting” drug trafficking), and the cyclical nature of “policy failures”—the same “mistakes” repeated over and over again—can this truly be called “blowback” or is something more?

Why does the US media pay greater attention to Iraq, Syria, and other countries in this region, rather than the problems just south of the border? Why should “middle America” care about what’s happening in Mexico?

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