The US Congress funds the drug war each year despite knowing for decades about the war’s ineffectiveness and disastrous consequences. How and why such a war continues has long been a matter of debate:
To say that the war on drugs has failed is not understanding something. It is true that for 40 years, the war on drugs has failed in its stated objectives. Everyone knows that prevention and treatment is the most efficient way to address the drug problem, and that foreign operations are the most inefficient way. One has to wonder just what is in the minds of the planners given the amount of evidence that what they are trying to achieve doesn’t work. … The drug war has not failed. … Its consequences are intentional both within the United States and in the hemisphere.—Noam Chomsky, 2012, [Quote–Kindle p. 19].
In his 2019 book, Drug War Pathologies, Embedded Corporatism and U.S. Drug Enforcement in the Americas, Jamaican born author and researcher Horace A. Bartilow says the consequences may not have been intentional. He provides statistical and other evidence that focuses blame for the current drug war on transnational corporations doing business primarily in Latin America:
While drug prohibition is an important component of the U.S. national security state (National Security Act of 1947, P.L. 114-113, Sec 101, 50 U.S.C. 3001), it has evolved into a larger corporatist regime that is predicated on protecting the operations of free market capitalism. American drug enforcement has now become the security face of corporate capitalism and is an important vehicle for leveraging corporate penetration into foreign markets … as well as facilitating international cooperation to combat threats to capitalism that arise from drug trafficking. The principal actors in this corporatist regime are American transnational corporations. The regime also includes policy think tanks, some members of Congress, civil society organizations, religious and political leaders in the African American community, and foreign governments that partner with the United States in the overseas prosecution of the drug war. [Kindle p. 2]
American policy makers, and the larger drug enforcement regime to which they belong, are addicted less to the drug war’s policy failures than to its budgetary successes, in the sense that they have been largely successful in their perennial ability to increase the drug war’s budget. [Kindle p. 21]
With the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing dark money donations to politicians, transnational corporations operating in Latin America will have many new opportunities this political season to further exploit the drug war and its victims.