GUEST: Mattathias Schwartz, international reporter and author of "Why are we still fighting the drug war?" published in "The New Yorker" this January, talks about America's misguided and bloody militarization of the Third World countries.
We had a good discussion with Mattathias about the investigative reporting he did in Honduras. He was able to trace some killings to American forces, suggesting at least that the "war" on drugs has been a human rights failure that has not diminished the supply in the least. Tens of billions spent with no evidence that any of it has been worthwhile.
Gary asked the best question, "Why do you think we are still fighting the drug war?" Of course, it was the question posed in the title.
Mattathias surprised me by answering that it was probably a way to militarize Central and South American countries at a time the Iran Contra scandal made military aid difficult for Reagan. Reagan used the war on drugs to sell a program with quite a different agenda.
When I asked him about why he never answered this question in his article, he told us that The New Yorker wanted fact based journalism, not conjecture. The article wasn't a polemic, but an attempt to report exactly what was known.
I am not sure that I buy it. By asking the question, he could have at least put in Reagan's military goals during the period. Or tied the war on drugs to the US militarization of the region. Or would that have been too much for a mainstream publication like The New Yorker?
At issue is the assumption of benign intentions. We lost the Vietnam War because we naively wanted to bring freedom to a country that wasn't ready. We were misled on Iraq; Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Who knew?
As long as the media doesn't suggest otherwise, the US public can go on dreaming about how noble our foreign policy is. We have spent an incredible amount of money on the war against drugs, and killed any number of innocent people, but hey, it was another honest mistake. Bull shit it was. And how our mainstream media tries to avoid taking that final step to honesty.