Addicted to the Warfare State
William N. Grigg
Which is the more serious threat to life, liberty and property: The illicit violence practiced by a handful of furtive armed drug smugglers in the Arizona desert, or the increasingly brazen militarization of U.S. law enforcement in the “war on drugs”?
According to some hyperventilating commentators, drug smugglers — with the guilty acquiescence of Barack Obama — have seized control of a huge swath of Arizona, thereby asserting alien sovereignty over what was once American soil. If this were true, points out libertarian journalist (and Arizona resident) J.D. Tuccille, the Narcotics lords would preside over a kingdom “populated by rattlesnakes and cholla.”
What has actually happened is a minor but politically exploitable increase in criminal activity in one of the many drug smuggling corridors that have long existed in the southwest, channels of illicit commerce created in order to serve a huge market that persists despite decades of prohibition.
While Mexican bandits supposedly exercise dominion over reptiles and cacti, National Guard units throughout the country are actively involved in transforming nominally civilian law enforcement agencies into a full-blown domestic army of occupation. Last year, according to Albany, New York Fox affiliate WXXA, the New York State National Guard “assisted in more than 2,000 arrests … and had almost $150 million in drug, property and weapon seizures.”
While they do engage in the occasional isolated shoot-out, the drug gangs supposedly controlling a section of Arizona aren’t terrorizing innocent families in late-night or early-morning armed raids. Nor are they detaining — and sometimes killing — motorists at checkpoints. They’re not plundering people in roadside shakedowns. Criminal violence of that kind is carried out every day by police — often with hands-on military assistance — as part of the “war on drugs.”