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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