October 23, 2010
We are now Russia's Mexico! And we must crack down on deviationists!
Viktor Ivanov is a fascinating character. A KGB man and Soviet war veteran of the old school, according to his Wiki bio Ivanov
...served in the KGB Directorate of Leningrad and its successors in 1977-1994.The KGB veteran now heads the Russian equivalent of our DEA, making him their top drug warrior:
Since May 15, 2008, he has been a Director of Russia's Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics and a Chairman of State Anti-Narcotics Сommittee, which includes 29 Heads of Russian Ministries.To say that Russia has a drug problem and an organized crime problem would be understatement. They have a huge problem, and what we call the "Russian Mafia" is much more powerful than the American version, because of the way they are embedded in the government:
As in the United States, there is no universally accepted definition of organized crime in Russia, in major part because Russian law provides no legal definition of organized crime. Analysis of criminological sources, however, enables one to identify some of its basic characteristics. These include organizational features that make Russian organized crime unique in the degree to which it is embedded in the post-Soviet political system.Gang warfare is so widespread as to not merit attention in the press, as this 2007 BBC report noted:
The Moscow grenade attack which injured 16 seems to bear the hallmarks of the continuing struggle in Russia's underground world of sleaze and gang warfare.I don't want to get lost in details, but one gang alone (the Tambov Gang) is a multibillion dollar operation which spills over into Europe.
Sound familiar? It reminds me of Mexico, except the situation is far away. Most Americans rarely think about the Russian Mafia, or the Russian war on drugs.
I hadn't even thought about the problem until today, when I learned that Viktor Ivanov has delivered a sound scolding to the bad, bad United States. He blames us (not the Russian drug importers) for Russia's drug problem, and he connects opium in Afghanistan to the California Marijuana Intitiative.
No, seriously. He has even traveled to California to do something that in the old Cold War days would be considered "interfering in our internal affairs."
Russia's top drug official warned in an interview with Foreign Policy on Friday of what he called the "catastrophic" consequences of marijuana legalization measures like California's upcoming ballot initiative, saying darkly that widespread legal drug use would produce "psychiatric deviations" and will only encourage drug addiction.
Actually the Netherlands controversy was fueled by EU pressure, as drug tourists from other countries poured in. It worked quite well for users in the Netherlands.
Mayor Leers says that would mean throwing away a drugs policy which has been shown to work, for the sake of uniformity. He wants all of Europe to treat cannabis as tolerantly as the Dutch, eliminating drugs tourism, and has summoned fellow civic leaders from other nations to a conference to tell them the advantages that would bring.If drugs were legalized in New York, druggies from around the country would clutter the streets.
Ivanov demands action in Afghanistan, and naturally, he is blaming the U.S. (as if we should have learned a lesson from the Russian experience):
Ivanov, who served in Afghanistan with the KGB during the Soviet Union's war in the 1980s expressed skepticism about the war effort in Afghanistan. "During the last five years the perception of the foreign powers by the local population has changed," he said. "Now they take it as a military occupation of their country."Yes, and I'm sure that once the Americans start defoliating their poppy fields, they'll just love us.
At the rate things are going, pretty soon the Drug War will become World War IV.
I find it fascinating that Ivanov's scolding comes right on the heels of a similar scolding by Mexican President Felipe Calderon:
TIJUANA, Mexico -- President Felipe Calderon said Thursday that a California ballot measure to legalize marijuana represents hypocrisy in U.S. drug policy for encouraging consumption while at the same time demanding that Mexico and other countries crack down on drug trafficking.Yes, and we know how well the war on drug traffickers has worked, don't we?
There are willing buyers of drugs, and willing sellers. Wherever there is demand, there will be supply. A few weeks ago, I discussed the situation in Mexico until I was blue in the face.
Sorry, but I have to repeat myself. It's easier than wearing myself out by saying it again with new words:
All of these drug-supplying countries, kingpins, and fiefdoms, whether large or small, near our border or far way, are as replaceable as worn out tires. They are as irrelevant to the Drug War as Al Capone was to Prohibition. Sure, Al Capone could have been taken out (and eventually was -- for income tax evasion), but had he been taken out at the height of his power, that would have accomplished little more than creating a new opportunity for another eager, probably more vicious, entrepreneur.The situation in Russia is analogous to our own in that there are willing consumers, and external suppliers.
But the difference is that here the Americans are being blamed for the demand, while in Russia we are being blamed for the supply!
It is all our fault.
I find this situation supremely ironic. In fact, I find it insane.
There are "psychiatric deviations" all right. I think the Drug War itself has led to "psychiatric deviationism" from the top down, on a grand scale. Turning human appetites into crimes has resulted in a gigantic worldwide underground economy and demand, and the harder the war is fought, the larger the underground economy gets.
Assume that drugs produce "psychiatric deviations." Why do so many people believe that criminalizing illness will prevent it, when that illness is known to be the driving force behind a huge economic demand?
When "psychiatric deviations" are outlawed, then psychiatric deviants will be outlaws.
Is that an improvement on psychiatric deviationism?
It doesn't matter to those who believe illicit substance use is inherently immoral, because that's precisely the idea. Illness = crime.
Such deviationism has been with humanity for a long time, and it is impossible to stamp out. While waging war on human appetites is foolish in itself, transforming them into an industry is, I think, sheer madness. Check out M. Simon's work on the subject.
It's no accident that a KGB control freak like Ivanov wants to ramp things up while blaming us for his country's appetites. There's a lot of power and money at stake.
And it's comforting to know that we are to the Russians as the Mexico is to us.
We are both supply and demand!
Nice international racket. No wonder they want to keep it up.
posted by Eric on 10.23.10 at 12:41 PM
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