William R. Brownfield is Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Even the title of his job tells you something about the absolute wrongness of how our government has approached drug policy.
He shared some of this thoughts in this speech: U.S. Official Comments on Drugs, Security and Latin America.
Of course, he denies he is a drug warrior:
A little bit of history: In the 1970s, the United States of America, or at least its government, discovered the drug issue. Richard Nixon declared a ‘war on drugs,’ a very unfortunate selection of terms, by the way, since in fact it’s not a war. It’s certainly not a war against our own population that in some way, shape, or form is part of the drug issue. And for that reason, ever so wisely, in the year 1993, the then newly-inaugurated president of the United States Bill Clinton said, and I quote, “It’s not a war, and we’re going to stop calling it a war on drugs.” Things move slowly in the federal government and the media, but don’t you all come at me in 15 minutes and start condemning me for the war on drugs, because I have already told you in advance it is not a war on drugs, it has not been a war on drugs for 21 years, and what we are doing goes a bit beyond the classical, typical definition of the term war, combined with the word drugs.
Read the rest of his comments as he talks about each effort that has been taken over the years and how it failed miserably, and, at the very end, merely comes to the conclusion that what is required is all of the above and some undefined “more.” Also note his pathetic attempt to claim Colombia and changing drug consumption trends as some kind of validation, and never once questions the damage caused by these policies.
Even as he recognizes shifts (Uruguay, Washington, Colorado), he fails to see them as anything other than new factors in the equation as opposed to repudiations of decades of war.
It’s a powerful blindness, demonstrating either a true believer, or, perhaps more likely, someone who has spent a career under flawed assumptions and is constitutionally unable to question their life’s work.