How the War on Drugs has caused carnage around the world, and why an end to prohibition is necessary and possible.
The War on Drugs has been official American policy since the 1970s, with the UK, Europe, and much of the world following suit. It is at best a failed policy, according to bestselling author Antony Loewenstein. Its direct results have included mass incarceration in the US, extreme violence in different parts of the world, the backing of dictatorships, and surging drug addiction globally. And now the Trump administration is unleashing diplomatic and military forces against any softening of the conflict.
Pills, Powder, and Smoke investigates the individuals, officials, activists, and traffickers caught up in this deadly war. Travelling through the UK, the US, Australia, Honduras, the Philippines, and Guinea-Bissau, Loewenstein uncovers the secrets of the drug war, why it’s so hard to end, and who is really profiting from it.
Loewenstein reports on the frontlines across the globe, from the streets of London’s King’s Cross to remote African villages. He reveals how the War on Drugs has become the most deadly war in modern times. Designed and inspired by Washington, its agenda has nothing to do with ending drug use or addiction, but is all about controlling markets, territory and people.
Like the never-ending War on Terror, the drugs war is a multi-billion industry that won’t go down without a fight. Pills, Powder, and Smoke explains why.
In this vivid, partisan piece of reportage, Australian journalist Loewenstein (Disaster Capitalism) depicts the catastrophic human consequences of the U.S.-led war on drugs and advocates for the legalization of all illicit substances. Loewenstein argues that America's prohibitionist policy serves not to counter abuse or impede trafficking, but rather to create corrupt "narco states" that are complicit with the federal government's foreign policy goals. The book's strongest sections feature human rights advocates from Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, and the Philippines who have been targeted, Loewenstein writes, by cartels as well as the CIA, DEA, and their own governments. Meanwhile, the appetite for narcotics in Western countries only grows stronger, and punitive policies toward drug users, mass incarceration, and inequitable criminal justice systems further oppress marginalized members of society, Loewenstein contends. He interviews people struggling with addiction and associated traumas, but undercuts these moving testimonies with blithe statements such as "for the vast bulk of people, drug taking is a normal part of life with no negative consequences." As a result, his policy recommendations feel less than authoritative. Readers inclined to take a skeptical view of the drug war, however, will welcome Loewenstein's advocacy.