Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Drug War and Policeman of the World

More unintended consequences of bad policy

The Thais have ruled that Russian Viktor Bout can be extradicted to the USA for arms-dealing in Columbia.

Let us examine what is wrong with this Thailand part of the United States, no. Is Russia part of the United States, no. Is Columbia part of the United States, no. So, why is the US Government telling another country what they can and cannot do with a citizen of another country who is accused of selling weapons in a yet a third country which is not part of the United States?

It goes to the Drug War. The US is highly-involved in telling Columbian peasants (through influencing the Columbia government's domestic policy as part of our 'aid' to Columbia) what they can and cannot grow on their own land.

This in turn of course creates counter-movements (FARC) against this violation of individual rights. The Drug War creates monopoly-rents (super profits) for those selling drugs because it reduces competition. This then creates an incentive to use force (violence begats violence) to maintain these super-profits. So it is not surprising that this in turn creates a demand for weapons to ensure the maintaining of 'market share'. Human behavior is such that when there are profits to be made a market will develop.

A cynic too might add that perhaps Nation-States do not like competition in arms, prefering to dominate this sector themselves. However, workers does not like to resort to cynicism and perfers to look at the economic-incentives involved.

US foreign policy is just loaded with unintended political economy consequences.

Other countries free-load on the US military, who is seen as the policeman of the world. This creates the US taxpayer footing the bill for the military defence of other countries (i.e., NATO a verstige of the Cold War and now 60 years old, whereas the Cold War has been over for 20 years) removing other countries from being responsible for their own self-defence. In addition interventions create animosity from the citizens of other countries who no doubt wonder why US soldiers are wandering around their land. Some react against this presence violently. This makes US citizens less safe, another, major, unintended consequence of interventionism.

The thing to do today of course is to get back to first principles, which is this case, "first do no harm".

This should start by winding down the drug war, pulling back US troops from the more than 100 countries in which we have a presence, pulling-back interventionist 'foreign aid' and in general a new policy of stopping the futile attempt at trying to police, and nation-build, the world.

In short, we need to stop our 'entangling alliances' which would vastly increase both our economic well-being and our civil liberties. Our conduct abroad, is well, embarrasing, and so easily remediated, if not for the special interest groups involved in all of these interventions. None of these groups perhaps wish to cause any of their unintended consequences, and perhaps each group in themsleves cannot see the larger picture of the harm and corruption caused by each. But those that live in a democracy have the right to protest these policies.