Public Forum April 2013

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April  2013  Public  Forum  “CON”  Analysis
Recently, we gave our comprehensive analysis of the Pro side of the April Public Forum resolution, Resolved: The continuation of current U.S. anti-drug policies in Latin America will do more harm than good. Today,  we’re  discussing  the  Con  side,  which,  while  slightly  trickier,  if  done  properly  can  be  argued   very persuasively. To  recap,  the  pro’s  argument  is,  essentially,  that  drugs  are  such  an  intractable  and  complex  issue  that   any law enforcement-oriented solution is likely to simply escalate violence and jeopardize relationships with Latin American countries for minimal gain. Conversely, as we will discuss today, the con must argue that there are tangible benefits that have resulted and will continue to result from law enforcement approaches like those in current policy. Further, they argue, any alternative to the status quo policies risks sacrificing the significant gains made against drug traffickers while also fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of addictions,  cartels,  and  global  crime.  As  the  con,  you’ll  likely  find   yourself mounting a two-pronged defense of the status quo: 1. Advocates  of  legalization  or  “public  health”  approaches  are  naïve  about  the  potential  negative   effects of drugs and drug cartels on society. 2. The  current,  multifaceted  approach  is  a  far  cry  from  the  dire  picture  painted  by  “anti-drug-war”   activists. We’ll  begin  with  a  basic  objection  to  the  pro  argument: 1. Softer approaches lack necessary enforcement mechanisms, causing backsliding and opening the floodgates to escalating drug problems. The basic question of incentives underlies the con position as well as the pro. Bernard Aronson, in a supplemental comment to a report outlining the ways in which U.S. drug policy may harm U.S.-Latin American relations, concludes that the current policies are still worth it: Aronson, 2012 [Supplemental Comment to “Remaking  the  Relationship:  The  United  States  and  Latin   America,”   Bernard, assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs from 1989 to 1993, InterAmerican Dialogue.] I support the broad thrust of the report. On counter-narcotics policy, I understand the frustration in the region that successive US administrations have failed to provide adequate, sustained support for demand reduction and rehabilitation of drug users. But I believe that US-supported counter-narcotics efforts in Colombia, Mexico, and Central America are essential to defend democratic institutions. Neither decriminalization nor legalization offers viable alternative solutions to the fundamental threat to democratic institutions in the hemisphere posed by drug cartels. Essentially,  he’s  arguing  that  the  status  quo  policy  provides  a  necessary  enforcement  mechanism  against   mass chaos. Drug cartels, he argues, are fundamentally destructive to emerging democracies. Advocates of legalization, he concludes, undersell the negative effects of cartel activity on fragile democratic institutions in many Latin American countries. The Latin Dispatch underscores a similar point,

Latin Dispatch, 2011 [“Costa Rica And Guatemala Reject Legalizing Drugs To Stop Violence,”  June  6.] Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla and her Guatemalan counterpart Álvaro Colom met over the weekend for a brief conference in San José, where they agreed that last  week’s  proposal  by  the   Commission on Global Drug Policy to decriminalize substances like marijuana would not work.    “It seems very  naive  to  say:  legalize  marijuana  and  the  profits  will  fall,”  Chinchilla  said during a press conference after receiving the  Guatemalan  president  in  her  office.  Both  president’s  said  that  the  United  States  and  Europe  need  to  take  more  responsibility in

Chinchilla  also  said  that  if  “soft”  drugs  were legalized, the markets for harder substances such as cocaine and...
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