abuse of authority… abroad and at home

So – I opened this blog two months ago and haven’t kept up with it. This is me trying again.

But it’s interesting coming back to it and to notice the quote in the previous entry from March. Very apropos given the number of soldiers in the news these days claiming that they were just following orders. A little disingenuous given the history of the 20th century and the voluminous testimony to the same effect at the Nuremberg trials. If we run a google news search on “i was just following orders” the results are pages and pages long these days – and just as in Nuremberg – the higher ups are saying “we didn’t know what was going on”.

Of course this is the fault of leadership, but not that it was weak in disciplining troops in Iraq, but that it took them there at all in the first place, convincing the American people that Arabs were less than human and then releasing well-armed hooligans onto the population, giving them carte blanche to wipe out the terrorist menace. Little surprise at this sickening outcome really.

And in other news… The Vancouver Sun today has the frontpage headline Crackdown hasn’t cut drug use in Downtown Eastside. This story references the extra 150 police that were put into Vancouver’s DTES several months ago to combat the drug problem. Of course at the time this was met with a lot of community criticism, and stories of abuses of police authority have flourished since then – but this story cinches it by reporting on a study that shows that rather than decrease drug use in the eastside neighbourhood – all the police did was spread it around, increasing the risk of HIV transmission and pushing people away from safe injection sites and needle exchanges. Good work boys! Not that this strategy hasn’t been tried time and time again in the US “Drug War” of the last two decades, to very little success – we had to try it here, one more time, just to see if we could somehow do it different.

As one of the report authors argues – “no matter how much you push in how many points, this problem doesn’t go away unless you deal with it in a more medical, comprehensive fashion.” Definitely words to pay attention to.

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