Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Middlebury Campus
Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Avant-Garde Politics Osama bin Laden Wants YOU to Get High

Author: [no author name found]

I was only half-watching the Superbowl the other day because I'm only a half-hearted football fan. Something caught my attention pretty solidly at one point, though, and it wasn't Britney Spears. It was an ad with kids talking about kidnapping tourists and murdering judges. I was curious for a second about how kids like this went about committing such heinous crimes. They answered the question for me: they did drugs. I'll tell you one thing, when I do drugs, I generally don't commit acts of terrorism. More often, I lie around in the grass or go out dancing. The concept that by doing drugs, you, the unassuming partier, are inadvertently killing people is incredibly stupid.

The next day, I thought about it for a while and decided that maybe the Office of National Drug Control Policy had simplified their message because ad time is so expensive. So I went to their Website,, and took their quiz about my knowledge of drugs and terrorism. The first question asked about how many terrorist groups fund themselves through drugs. The answer was 12 (of 28). The Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) gets about 90 percent of its $300 million budget from cocaine. Their archrival, the ultra-right wing paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia (AUC) similarly gets 50 percent of their budget that way. The Taliban made $50 million from producing heroin. Interesting stuff, I thought, but how many kids really do heroin or coke?

Anticipating my skepticism, the next question was about pot smokers. It asked how much pot comes from outside the country. The answer? 1.5 million pounds were seized at the border last year. About one-third of that came from Mexico, a known corridor for terrorist drug smuggling. The other two-thirds apparently came from Canada. There's no connection made between terrorists and pot. That is probably because there is no connection. The majority of marijuana consumed in the United States is grown in British Columbia, Northern California and Mexico, none of which are terrorist-harboring regions. Not to mention that pot is worth a piddling $400 or so an ounce. Cocaine can be worth nearly $2,000 an ounce.

I moved on to a question about Ecstasy. Apparently about 80 percent of the Ecstasy in this country is produced in the Netherlands. The implication seems to be that the Dutch fund terrorism. This apparent non sequitur is resolved with the insightful statement that "[d]rug traffickers and terror groups both undermine democratic institutions and the rule of law and distort legitimate economies. They engage in widespread violence and corruption and use similar methods, such as money laundering, arms deals and document falsification to do their work." It might be interesting to note that well-respected organizations such as Royal Dutch Shell and Lockheed are also guilty of these things. This also happens to a non sequitur: Just because terrorists, drug traffickers and multi-national corporations use some of the same means doesn't mean they have the same ends.

Frankly, I'm pretty unenthusiastic about this campaign. I am glad that the Drug Czar has stopped exaggerating the effects of drugs on users, but I don't appreciate him distorting their effects on other people. The links between marijuana, Ecstasy and basically every other drug and terrorism simply don't exist. The two drugs that do support terrorism, and which the vast majority of users do not do, are cocaine and heroin.

The key to the whole deal is that these drugs are astronomically valuable. I just noted that cocaine can be worth nearly 10 times as much as gold. Not only that, but it doesn't require massive, environmentally destructive mines to get at. Anyone can grow the plants and the processing is fairly simple. The same goes for heroin. Cheap to make? Exorbitant prices? Guaranteed market? Sounds like a fail proof business model fit for any American company.

Our leaders have the chain of causation a little screwed up. Drugs are so valuable because we've spent billions of dollars making them dangerous to produce, dangerous to distribute and dangerous to possess, artificially distorting their worth. Terrorists are able to effectively make use of the money because it's entirely unregulated in the black market. It is not the user that's supporting terrorism, but the War on Drugs. Were these two hard drugs to become legal, their prices would drop to reasonable levels, they would be produced here and their profits would be subject to government oversight, much like tobacco and alcohol. Poof! No more money for terrorist groups.

Of course, I'd like to legalize all drugs, not just the heavy hitters. "But what of the social costs?" you ask. The myth, highly popular with nearly everyone in this country, is that drugs screw up people's lives. I bet you, a Middlebury student, could prove this assertion wrong for me. Our school is a place full of undeniably successful people. Yet one need look no further than the free flowing beer at social house parties or the pungent smell wafting through the halls to see that this country's two most popular drugs, alcohol and marijuana, are flourishing here. It is undeniable that drugs, including alcohol, have negative physical and mental effectives if used irresponsibly. But the majority of the problems associated with drugs (going to jail, losing student loans, losing government contracts or being disbarred) are all policy choices in the war on drugs that would end with legalization.

In support of our government, though, I like how our President is thinking 'outside the box' about the war on terrorism, however poorly; it gives me hope. In the spirit of creativity, I'd like to offer my own, non-traditional solution to our current terrorist problem. We should capture Osama bin Laden and then give him and George Bush healthy doses of LSD and let them sit outside on a warm spring day at Camp David. They wouldn't become raving schizophrenics, as Jon Walters might assert; they'd laugh about how absurd politics and government are, how beautiful the bright green new leaves of the Eastern hardwood forest are and how stupid it is to screw it all up by killing each other.