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Summarize (400 words) the main points (with historical examples) in Alfred McCoy’s argument on “Covert Netherworld.” (Lecture Notes/McCoy, pp. 81-108) All Responses to original Discussion must reflect a balance between quotations and /or paraphrasing with proper in-text citations (Author, p. #) and your own voice and thoughts on materials covered. You must support your arguments and claims by using scholarly sources, utilizing sociological concepts and insights you are learning. NO OUTSIDE SOURCE AND BELOW ARE SOME LINKS TO THE VIDEO FOR THIS ASSIGNMENTS Lecture Notes: The Covert Netherworld This week we will continue our discussions on complexity of global geopolitics and its intended and unintended consequences. Alfred McCoy argues: The “covert netherworld” is a useful tool that helps us understand the real significance of clandestine operations. Such a milieu can form anywhere through the collaboration between the only organizations on the planet capable of operating beyond the bounds of civil society—state security and criminal syndicates. During its rise to world power right after World War II, Washington built a powerful clandestine service to resolve the central contradiction of the age: How to exercise global hegemony in a post-colonial world of sovereign states supposedly immune to such intervention. As the world’s hundred new nations secured their borders and slapped taxes on all sorts of imports in a scramble for revenues, smuggling soared and transnational crime syndicates swelled worldwide, controlling drug traffic worth 4% of world trade—lots of people and lots of extra-legal power to aid any state security service, which they did with surprising frequency. During the Cold War, the CIA manipulated this netherworld successfully in Africa, Central America, and Central Asia, but now its mastery of this domain is fading as the Taliban use their control over the Afghan heroin traffic to sustain their protracted fight against the US presence… Covert intervention and torture are the flip sides of America’s imperial coin, with one often successful and the other not. After World War II, as 7 European empires gave way to 100 new nations, the CIA proved skilled in assuring these presidential palaces were filled with pliable leaders. When manipulated elections failed to work, military coups often did the trick, as happened in Chile, South Vietnam, and Laos. While these coups accomplished Washington’s tactical objective of putting an amenable ally in the palace, they often condemned people worldwide to long years of tyranny, privation, and violence—whether in Chile, Guatemala, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, or the Philippines… In desperation over their decline, fading empires—whether Britain, France, or the United States—have resorted to torture to shore up their waning hegemony, only to find, as we saw at Abu Ghraib, that the recourse to such barbarism discredits their global leadership at home and abroad, accelerating their imperial decline.( ———————————————————————————————- Alfred McCoy: A Short History of Psychological Terror ———————————————————————————————- Question of Torture: Ghosts of Abu Ghraib  ———————————————————————————————– Decriminalizing the Drug War? Calculating the Damage from a Century of Drug Prohibition. By Alfred McCoy. … At the broadest level, the past half-century turns out to have taught me that drugs aren’t just drugs, drug dealers aren’t just “pushers,” and drug users aren’t just “junkies” (that is, outcasts of no consequence). Illicit drugs are major global commodities that continue to influence U.S. politics, both national and international. And our drug wars create profitable covert netherworlds in which those very drugs flourish and become even more profitable. Indeed, the U.N. once estimated (Links to an external site.) that the transnational traffic, which supplied drugs to 4.2% of the world’s adult population, was a $400 billion industry, the equivalent of 8% of global trade. In ways that few seem to understand, illicit drugs have had a profound influence on modern America, shaping our international politics, national elections, and domestic social relations. Yet a feeling that illicit drugs belong to a marginalized demimonde has made U.S. drug policy the sole property of law enforcement and not health care, education, or urban development… High Priests of Prohibition For the past half-century, the ever-failing U.S. drug war has found a compliant handmaiden at the U.N., whose dubious role when it comes to drug policy stands in stark contrast to its positive work on issues like climate change and peace-keeping. In 1997, the director of U.N. drug control, Dr. Pino Arlacchi, proclaimed (Links to an external site.) a 10-year program to eradicate all illicit opium and coca cultivation from the face of the planet, starting in Afghanistan. A decade later, his successor, Antonio Maria Costa, glossing over that failure, announced (Links to an external site.) in the U.N.’s World Drug Report 2007 that “drug control is working and the world drug problem is being contained.” While U.N. leaders were making such grandiloquent promises about drug prohibition, the world’s illicit opium production was, in fact, rising 10-fold from just 1,200 tons (Links to an external site.) in 1971, the year the U.S. drug war officially started, to a record 10,500 tons by 2017. (Links to an external site.) This gap between triumphal rhetoric and dismal reality cries out for an explanation. That 10-fold increase in illicit opium supply is the result of a market dynamic I’ve termed (Links to an external site.) “the stimulus of prohibition.” At the most basic level, prohibition is the necessary precondition for the global narcotics trade, creating both local drug lords and transnational syndicates that control this vast commerce. Prohibition, of course, guarantees the existence and well-being of such criminal syndicates which, to evade interdiction, constantly shift and build up their smuggling routes, hierarchies, and mechanisms, encouraging a worldwide proliferation of trafficking and consumption, while ensuring that the drug netherworld will only grow. In seeking to prohibit addictive drugs, U.S. and U.N. drug warriors act as if mobilizing for forceful repression could actually reduce drug trafficking, thanks to the imagined inelasticity of, or limits on, the global narcotics supply. In practice, however, when suppression reduces the opium supply from one area (Burma or Thailand), the global price just rises, spurring traders and growers to sell off stocks, old growers to plant more, and new areas (Colombia) to enter production. In addition, such repression usually only increases consumption. If drug seizures, for instance, raise the street price, then addicted consumers will maintain their habit by cutting other expenses (food, rent) or raising their income by dealing drugs to new users and so expanding the trade. Instead of reducing the traffic, the drug war has actually helped stimulate that 10-fold increase in global opium production and a parallel surge in U.S. heroin users from just 68,000 (Links to an external site.) in 1970 to 886,000 (Links to an external site.) in 2017. By attacking supply and failing to treat demand, the U.N.-U.S. drug war has been pursuing a “solution” to drugs that defies the immutable law of supply and demand. As a result, Washington’s drug war has, in the past 50 years, gone from defeat to debacle. The Domestic Influence of Illicit Drugs That drug war has, however, incredible staying power. It has persisted despite decades of failure because of an underlying partisan logic. In 1973, while President Richard Nixon was still fighting his drug war in Turkey and Thailand, New York’s Republican governor, Nelson Rockefeller, enacted the notorious “Rockefeller Drug Laws.” Those included mandatory penalties (Links to an external site.) of 15 years to life for the possession of just four ounces of narcotics… For the previous 50 years, the U.S. prison population had remained remarkably stable at just 110 prisoners (Links to an external site.) per 100,000 people. The new drug war, however, doubled those prisoners from 370,000 in 1981 to 713,000 in 1989. Driven by Reagan-era drug laws and parallel state legislation, prison inmates soared to 2.3 million by 2008, raising the country’s incarceration rate to an extraordinary 751 prisoners (Links to an external site.) per 100,000 population. And 51% (Links to an external site.) of those in federal penitentiaries were there for drug offenses. Such mass incarceration has led as well to significant disenfranchisement (Links to an external site.), starting a trend that would, by 2012, deny the vote to nearly six million people, including 8% (Links to an external site.) of all African-American voting-age adults, a liberal constituency that had gone overwhelmingly Democratic for more than half a century. In addition, this carceral regime concentrated its prison populations, including guards and other prison workers, in conservative rural districts of the country, creating something akin to latter-day “rotten boroughs” for the Republican Party… So successful were Reagan Republicans in framing this partisan drug policy as a moral imperative that two of his liberal Democratic successors, Bill Clinton (Links to an external site.) and Barack Obama, avoided any serious reform of it. Instead of systemic change, Obama offered clemency to about 1,700 convicts (Links to an external site.), an insignificant handful among the hundreds of thousands still locked up for non-violent drug offenses. While partisan paralysis at the federal level has blocked change, the separate states, forced to bear the rising costs of incarceration, have slowly begun reducing prison populations. In a November 2018 ballot measure, for instance, Florida — where the 2000 presidential election was decided by just 537 ballots — voted to restore (Links to an external site.) electoral rights to the state’s 1.4 million felons, including 400,000 African-Americans. No sooner did that plebiscite pass, however, than Florida’s Republican legislators desperately tried to claw back (Links to an external site.) that defeat by requiring that the same felons pay fines and court costs before returning to the electoral rolls… So what does all this mean? In an impoverished inner city with very limited job opportunities, this drug gang provided high-mortality employment on a par with the minimum wage (Links to an external site.) (then $5.15 a hour) that their peers in more affluent neighborhoods earned from much safer work at McDonald’s. Moreover, with some 25,000 members in Southside Chicago, GD was providing social order for young men in the volatile 16-to-30 age cohort — minimizing random violence, reducing petty crime, and helping Chicago maintain its gloss as a world-class business center. Until there is sufficient education and employment in the nation’s cities, the illicit drug market will continue to fill the void with work that carries a high cost in violence, addiction, imprisonment, and more generally blighted lives… The End of Drug Prohibition As the global prohibition effort enters its second century, we are witnessing two countervailing trends. The very idea of a prohibition regime has reached a crescendo of dead-end violence not just in Afghanistan but recently in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the failure of the drug war’s repression strategy. In 2003, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra launched a campaign against methamphetamine abuse that prompted his police to carry out 2,275 extrajudicial killings (Links to an external site.) in just three months. Carrying that coercive logic to its ultimate conclusion, on his first day as Philippine president in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte ordered an attack on drug trafficking that has since yielded 1.3 million surrenders by dealers and users, 86,000 arrests, and some 20,000 bodies (Links to an external site.) dumped on city streets across the country. Yet drug use remains deeply rooted in the slums of both Bangkok and Manila. On the other side of history’s ledger, the harm-reduction movement led by medical practitioners and community activists worldwide is slowly working to unravel the global prohibition regime. With a 1996 ballot measure, California (Links to an external site.) voters, for instance, started a trend by legalizing medical marijuana sales. By 2018, Oklahoma (Links to an external site.) had become the 30th state to legalize medical cannabis. Following initiatives by Colorado and Washington (Links to an external site.) in 2012, eight more states to date have decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis, long the most widespread of all illicit drugs. Hit by a surge of heroin abuse during the 1980s, Portugal’s government first reacted with repression that, as everywhere else on the planet, did little to stanch rising drug abuse, crime, and infection. Gradually, a network of medical professionals across the country adopted harm-reduction measures that would provide a striking record of proven success. After two decades of this ad hoc trial, in 2001 Portugal decriminalized (Links to an external site.) the possession of all illegal drugs, replacing incarceration with counseling and producing a sustained drop in HIV and hepatitis infections. Projecting this experience into the future, it seems likely that harm-reduction measures will be adopted progressively at local and national levels around the globe, while various endless and unsuccessful wars on drugs are curtailed or abandoned. Perhaps someday a caucus of Republican legislators in some oak-paneled Washington conference room and a choir of U.N. bureaucrats in their glass-towered Vienna headquarters will remain the only apostles preaching the discredited gospel of drug prohibition. ( (Links to an external site.)) ———————————————————————–


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