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.

In 1987-1988 as a KGB officer he took part in the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In December 1990 together with Boris Gryzlov and Valentin Chuykin he founded the small-scale enterprise Blok engaged in various businesses and became its director.

In October 1994 he resigned from FSK and was appointed Chief of the Administrative Staff of the Saint Petersburg Mayor Office. In 1999 he succeeded Nikolai Patrushev as the Head of the Internal Security Department of Russia's FSB. Since January 5, 2000, he has been a Deputy Head of the Presidential Staff for personnel appointed by Vladimir Putin. Viktor Ivanov is considered one of Putin's closest allies.

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 –°ommittee, 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.

At the same time, however, it has certain features in common with such other well-known varieties of organized crime as the Italian Mafia. The latter has a complicated history that includes both cooperation and conflict with the Italian state. Much more than was ever the case with the Italian Mafia, however, Russian organized crime is uniquely a descendant of the Soviet state.

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.

Bombings and shootings linked to Russia's criminal underworld are so commonplace these days that they barely even feature in news bulletins.

This latest attack in Moscow is the third such incident in Russia this week.

On Monday, three people were killed by a bomb in a market in Ryazan, about 200km south east of Moscow; and, on the same day, an explosive device was thrown into a boutique in St Petersburg, damaging property but causing no injuries.

For good measure, there was also a shooting in Moscow on Wednesday, as a result of which a businessman lies critically ill in hospital.

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.

Viktor Ivanov, a former KGB officer and prominent member of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's inner circle, even took the unusual step of going to Los Angeles earlier this week to "conduct a campaign against legalizing marijuana in California," as he said in the interview. He also came to Washington this week to meet with U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and U.S. Afghan envoy Richard Holbrooke to discuss anti-poppy measures in Afghanistan and call for an intensified program of aerial eradication.

The United States has largely abandoned eradicating the poppy crop in favor of a narrower strategy focusing on cutting off funding to the Taliban and cracking down on traffickers. Ivanov says that isn't enough to counter the flow of heroin into Russia, which kills tens of thousands of users every year.

But California's laxity, it seems, was particularly startling to him. "I hadn't known about it before and I was absolutely shocked when I was in the city and saw these posters saying that you can get marijuana for medical purposes," he said. He met with Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Sheriff Leroy Baca to voice Russia's opposition to the measure. Noting that U.S. President Barack Obama has also expressed his opposition to legalization, Ivanov described it as "one of the cases where Russia and the U.S. agree completely."

He continued: "I'm afraid that the consequences of [legalization] will be catastrophic. Even the Netherlands, where they sell marijuana legally in coffee shops, they are now reversing on this. Because there, and everywhere, drug addiction is becoming stronger and the people who are addicted develop psychiatric deviations. They say, 'What does God do when he wants to punish a person? He deprives him of his mind.'"

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 you look at the figures you can see that only a small percentage of the youth in the Netherlands is addicted to cannabis. In Germany, Belgium and France the figures are much higher," the mayor says. "So our policy works. It is a good policy."

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.

"For me, it reflects a terrible inconsistency in government policies in the United States," the Mexican leader said late Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.

California voters will decide on Nov. 2 whether to allow possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Proposition 19 would also clear the way for local governments to permit retail sales of pot.

Calderon said he was certain that legalizing marijuana will lead to an increase in drug consumption.

"It's very sad to see how drug consumption is, little by little, tearing apart American society and, if we don't watch ourselves, it will tear apart ours," the president said.

Calderon spoke as Tijuana opened a two-week festival to showcase the city's economic prowess and cultural riches -- a $5 million victory that portraying the city across from San Diego as a beacon of hope in the Mexican government's war on drug traffickers that Calderon launched in 2006.

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.

What really complicates the War on Drugs (and please forgive my inconsistent capitalization; I don't know what the rules are for this; although I see that the War on Poverty is capitalized) is that it might just be on the verge of turning into a real war. At least the War on Poverty never did that.

The present situation in Mexico involves not one or two cartels, but eight of them: the Beltran Leyva Cartel, the La Familia Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, the Juarez Cartel, the Los Negros Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel, and the Los Zetas Cartel. Most of them have sub-cartels and are headed by the usual lineup of completely replaceable "kingpins." (It would take at least a day to become knowledgeable about all of them.)

It's turned into a real, hugely complicated shooting war, and our border is now direly endangered.


Because American consumers want what these now-warring suppliers have.

At some point, I think this country needs to ask itself whether it's worth it and how far it should go. Sure, we could go to war with Mexico for its failure to pursue the cartels to our satisfaction, and in the case of an all out war, things might get difficult enough for the suppliers of American consumers that they might decide to move their operations to safer places, or even close up shop.

But as we have seen before, there are other countries in the world.

American is the country with the biggest demand. Yet America is literally at war internationally with supply, which is seen as the enemy. And domestically, America is at war with demand.

We are waging war against a vast demand and an infinite supply during a period of economic crisis.

The enemies and potential enemies in this war are everywhere.

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.

Studies in many countries are showing that giving the deviants their drugs is not only cheaper but more effective.

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



M. Simon   ·  October 23, 2010 5:54 PM

I figure that since we are being scolded by Mexico and Russia (two paragons of virtue), it might be a good time for our ruler to read some deviationist views.

Eric Scheie   ·  October 23, 2010 7:07 PM

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