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

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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 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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2 responses to “RadioWHO: The Longest-Running War in America’s History—Rebecca Gordon”

  1. Rick says:

    The people in prison provide extremely cheap source of (slave) labor for private corporations and

    contribute to displacing workers in the community.
    The prisons are a private corporation themselves; profit making.

    I remember reading on the internet a group of entertainers being brought together and told they would make music that would lead to filling the prisons or else; about 5 years ago.
    I forget who made the “offer” but it sounded believable.

  2. Cloudchopper says:

    Why does the media not care more about the drug war? Because the media is corporate owned and corporations make lots of money in the drug wars.

    From time to time the media does like to show us some Martian outfitted from outer space cops raiding some mountainous areas in California. They show us the cops burning, mowing down or eradicating those green leaves with glee and going “shoot, shoot, bang, bang” after the world’s most dangerous criminals.