Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PF April 2013 Drug Policy - Definitions

Resolved: The continuation of current U.S. anti-drug policies in Latin America will do more harm than good


This could be an interesting resolution because it explores US policy with a part of the world Public Forum Debate has not spent time exploring in the recent past.  It gives us the chance to learn new things about a part of the world which is very near to the US, yet culturally rich and very diverse from the US.

Let's begin, as usual, by defining the words of the resolution.

(Merriam Webster)
the act or fact of continuing in or the prolongation of a state or activity

(Merriam Webster)
Continuous, constant
needing no renewal

(Merriam Webster)
marked by uninterrupted extension in space, time, or sequence

(Merriam Webster)
1: presently elapsing (2): occurring in or existing at the present time (3): most recent
2: used as a medium of exchange
3: generally accepted, used, practiced, or prevalent at the moment

Latin America
The U.S. State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, divides the region into Canada, Caribbean and Latin America. Canada, of course, is comprised of the provinces of the country which lies on our northern border (unless you happen to live in Alaska or Hawaii) while the Caribbean is comprised of the various island-states and possessions situated in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea.  This means Latin America is comprised of the remaining countries making up all of continental Central and South America.  Therefore it would include Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Savadore, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama in Central America and Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam,  French Guyana and Brazil in South America.

anti-drug policies
Obviously, we have a pretty good idea, this topic will focus on policies the US has to prevent the manufacture and import of illegal drugs into the United States.  Whereas, drugs may be produced or refined any where, the resolution narrows our focus to the western hemisphere regions known collectively as Latin America.  I strongly suggest debaters take a copy of the source referenced below, to get a perspective on the range and scope of the issue.

CRS (2012):
In recent decades, Latin America has played a central role in several major global illicit drug markets. Multiple aspects of the drug supply chain take place in the region, including drug crop cultivation, drug production, drug trafficking, and, ultimately, drug consumption. Today, South America is the sole producer of cocaine for the global market; Mexico and Colombia are the primary sources of opiates in the United States; Mexico and the Caribbean are major foreign sources of cannabis (marijuana) consumed in the United States; and Mexico is the primary source of foreign methamphetamine in the United States. Marijuana and methamphetamine are also produced domestically...Latin America’s central role in the illicit drug market stems largely from the Andean region’s unique position as the world’s only source region for coca and cocaine. Another major factor contributing to the region’s prominence in today’s drug trade is its proximity to the United States, a major drug consumption market. Underlying factors that have allowed drug trafficking to flourish include poverty, inequality, and a lack of viable economic opportunities for farmers and youth in many countries aside from emigration. At the same time, underfunded security forces and the failure to complete institutional reform efforts have generally left police, prisons, and judicial systems weak and susceptible to corruption. On average, fewer than 5% of murders committed in Latin America result in criminal convictions, which gives drug traffickers the freedom to act with relative impunity. The presence of insurgent groups involved in drug production and trafficking in some countries has impeded antidrug efforts. Uneven political support for counterdrug efforts may also fuel drug trafficking.

U.S. State Department-funded drug control assistance programs in the Western Hemisphere are currently undergoing a period of transition. Counterdrug assistance to Colombia and the Andean region is in decline, after record assistance levels that began with U.S. support for Plan Colombia in FY2000. Conversely, antidrug funding for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean is significantly higher now than in the mid-2000s as a result of the Mérida Initiative and two related programs that received initial funding in FY2010, the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). Separately, DOD counternarcotics assistance and support continues in the region (See Table A-1 in the Appendix). The following sections provide broad overviews of the current major U.S. antidrug initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most sections contain appropriations figures through FY2012, as well as the FY2013 budget requests for each program.

will (do)
The Merriam Webster definitions are:

1—used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent, or in negative constructions refusal
2—used to express frequent, customary, or habitual action or natural tendency or disposition
3—used to express futurity <tomorrow morning I will wake up in this first-class hotel suite — Tennessee Williams>
4—used to express capability or sufficiency <the back seat will hold three passengers>
5—used to express probability and often equivalent to the simple verb

When looking at the context of the word, I tend to think of definition number 3, used to express futurity.  One takes the sense that even if the current US anti-drug policy is not producing harms in the status quo, if it continues, harms will arise in the indefinite future.

(Merriam Webster)
1: physical or mental damage : injury
2: mischief, hurt

For this term, I intentionally avoided the dictionary definition.  We know what good is.  It is something desirable, pleasant, or something which produces such a quality.  When we speak of harms and good, we understand harms are bad and good is, well, good.  So it seems reasonable to assume we can address a long list of potential good effects of the US anti-drug policy.  Nevertheless I think we must measure good outcomes or bad outcomes with respect to some desired end or objective.  So already I see frameworks which center around the objectives of the US anti-drug policies.

Why the Resolution?

Latin America covers a broad area of the western hemisphere.  Historically the region has been subject to poverty despite enormous natural resources.  More recently, the regions have emerged as some of the largest and most active economies in the world.  Some would argue that a great deal of the previous conditions in the area are the result of US hegemony and some would contend US exploitation of the resources.  It may be fitting to explore the history of the region in more detail in a future article.

The US has a lust for illegal drugs and anytime a large group of people are willing to pay for something, regardless of its legality, there will be people willing to take the risks to supply the desire, at a price worthy of the risks.  Hence, a thriving underground economy has emerged to meet the market of illicit drugs.  Seeing illegal drugs as a kind of blight on society and a source of all sorts of harms to individuals and families, the US government has sought to eliminate this underground economy.  This topic will debate the harms and advantages arising from US government policy.

Click here for background info


Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug
Trafficking and U.S. Counterdrug Programs
Clare Ribando Seelke, Coordinator
Congressional Research Center, March 19, 2012

Analysis: Obama faces Latin America revolt over drugs, trade
Reuters News Agency
By Brian Winter

The Shifting Terrain of Latin American Drug Trafficking
Steven Hyland, 2011
The Ohio State University, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History





    1. I am certainly not going to waste my time writing a case for you. If you want a case so badly, please, refer to the above paragraphs in which the authors of this website so kindly explained and dissected the resolution.
      I recommend you analyze the resolution and find good supporting evidence. That is the only way that you will be able to shine and succeed at life. Having others do things for you is not the way.
      Find you own path, young warrior.

  3. the next comment is going to be dumb

    1. I find it extremely insulting that you two would misuse this valuable resource by posting irrelevant comments.

    2. go away mister downer why don't u make urself useful and rite a case 4 me

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this analysis. Thank you guys for helping us aspiring debaters realize the meaning of this resolution.

    1. go eat ur green beans

  5. Where's the actual evidence I can use?

    1. Confused?!?!? Halp meMarch 6, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      i don't see any ummmmm so idk what to do

    2. ya I don't really see any links to evidence on here come on you guys usually have good links and analysis what ahpppened

  6. thx for always doing this with the website and evverything it means alot so yeah im grateful that yoou guys would do this for us like how do you find the time so thx like i dont know if i could manage

  7. this class is so dumb

  8. Wait I'm confused??? so in the news articile you linked, obama likes drugs???? please help me out i really don't know what to do

  9. What qualifies as "current" policies? Could finding a new law from days before the round qualify? Where would someone go to find a pseudo list of our polcies?

    1. Policies are not necessarily laws, but policies must follow the law. I did a background piece spelling out the policies here. Or you can read the National Drug Control Strategy here.

    2. The list of policies you provide are incredibly general, and are not things (in my opinion) that the government "continues" or "discontinues". For example; "preventing illicit drug use and addiction before their onset" is not something that we stop doing. How we prevent usage however is something that can change.

      Perhaps I am looking at this incorrectly, but this ambiguity means we must look at specific laws not general pressures (ie HR blah blah blah instead of "prevent drugs"). Am I wrong?

    3. I don't know what definition of "policy" you are using but, policies usually are broad because they encapsulate the systems of laws, actions and strategies which seek to address defined problems. There are many ways to implement a policy. One could probably fill a book with a list of the specific laws and actions enacted to implement the various components of the drug control strategy. In my opinion, things like the Merida Initiative or the recent deployment of Marines to Costa Rica are examples of some specific actions that are being taken to carry out the broad policies of drug control. If you can find some comprehensive and detailed list, share it with the rest of us, but I do not know of one generally available on the internet.

    4. Perhaps youre right. Black's Law Dictionary supports this ambiguos interpretation.

      This further confuses me then. How can general principles like "drugs are bad for citizens" be

      a. discontinued
      b. bad for citizens

    5. Part of the process of formulating policy is identifying a problem. Something like, "illicit drugs are bad" defines the problem. "The US will work to secure our borders to reduce trafficking" is a policy. "Increased satellite surveillance" or "deployment of aerial drone patrols" are specific actions to implement the policy. The specific actions or tactics are reviewed and changed much more often than the policies, which have remained pretty consistant across several administration changes. Only recently has Obama put more importance on the domestic policies.

    6. Your last example makes my point. Drone strikes are an action (not a policy) but are certainly in the public eye. "Defense" however is not at our attention in the same way. Wouldnt our policy towards drone strikes (policy, as in lawful action) be more topical than our policy towards defense?

      I might be confused again.

    7. I think you are getting it on a deeper level than most. This debate will center on the impacts of the tactics, strategies, initiatives and actions which are authorized under the polices. So I think you are right to bring these up and say "this is what these policies are bringing about". That is how you can weigh the impacts of the policies, themselves.

    8. Thank you for responding to my questions. But here is one last one (sorry...)

      If thats true (that laws would be the link to impacts for a specific policy), then what is the negative ground? Do they have to prove that the continuation is net positive, or that the discontinuation is worse? What if the policy can not be discontinued?

    9. The Con side is tough but there are several strategies one can take. First the policy is changing, Obama is shifting attention to reducing demand we don't know if the result will be bad. Second, the past failures have been from the weaknesses of our foreign partners and not the US policies. Third, the policies do work as evidenced by a nearly 50% reduction in the use of cocaine. Fourth, with the end of the Afghan war we can and are shifting more resources to interdiction. Fifth, failures are the result of lack of funding and political support.

      Con can argue continuation is an unknown, is net beneficial, or discontinuation is bad, either way. I personally did not look at the impacts of discontinuation so I can not comment on it.

    10. i double dog dare you to comment on it

  10. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Debate is for fat people that can't play sports. Get outside and go run track and cross country. Good day fatties.

    1. Many debaters do debate and sports, but people who don't exercise their minds become fat heads.

      Good day.

    2. just what a fatty would say



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