Drug war photo essay

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Drug war photo essay

Drug war photo essay

By confronting a difficult subject in a compelling, head-on manner, the film would force Americans to grapple with an anti-drug crusade that was costing billions of dollars a year and sending millions of people to jail, yet doing little to stop the flow of illegal substances.

So determined was director Steven Soderbergh to rub American noses in the truth that a thorough and penetrating debate would be impossible to put off any longer.

Since then, the drug-war juggernaut has continued to roll. Although Traffic was supposed to change the way Americans talk and think about drugs, it in fact changed little at all.

So where did the filmmakers go wrong?

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Is the war on drugs so big at this point that it is simply impervious to criticism? Or was Traffic less than it seemed, a movie that, for all the hype and glory, preferred to bob and weave rather than engage its subject in direct combat?

The answer is the latter. While depicting the drug war as an exercise in futility, it celebrated the drug-war rank and file, the frontline drug cops, as heroes. The result was a dual message: As hopeless as the drug war may be, there is no alternative, which is why it will keep rolling forward in the face of all criticism.

It was a point the movie drove home in one of its final scenes in which a drug enforcement agent named Montel Gordon bravely plants a bug in the home of a ruthless drug kingpin. But for all its cynicism, the effect is actually to strengthen militarism by marginalizing its critics.

The movie moguls thus get to have their cake and eat it too.

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They get to criticize the drug war while scoring points with the drug warriors who bash down doors and make arrests. Written by Simon Moore and directed by Alastair Reid, Traffik —the filmmakers used the German spelling because much of it was set in Hamburg—was far from perfect.

By weaving together three different stories in order to show how heroin makes its way from Pakistan to Great Britain, it highlighted an aspect of the modern drug trade that is certainly squalid and unpleasant, but far from representative of the phenomenon as a whole.

This was more than a bit one-sided. Still, the film was refreshingly un-melodramatic in its discussion of the political economy of opiate production and its effect on upscale users. Rather than putting the blame on evil drug lords, it explored the real-life forces that drive poppy cultivation in the first place.

Indeed, when a poppy farmer named Fazal is forced off the land by government troops, it shows him moving his family to Karachi and taking a job with an especially vicious trafficker. Rather than freeing Fazal from the nightmare, the drug war sends him tumbling in deeper.

It showed the drug trade to be as impersonal in the final analysis as trade in grain or steel. Although highly faithful to the British original in certain respects, the Hollywood remake shifts the emphasis.

Instead of poor farmers trapped by economic circumstances, it opens with a couple of Mexican police officers battling against the drug trade despite a vast and monstrous conspiracy against them. Rather than presenting the problem in trerms of economics, Traffic moralizes it by presenting it as a battle between good-guy cops and bad-guy narcotraficantes.

The film then cuts to a drug bust across the border in San Diego, in which dealers and drug agents blast away at one another with semi-automatics and cops hurtle high fences in pursuit of fleeing criminals.

Just as Traffik showed police shooting a suspected trafficker in the foot, Traffic does also. But where the first film described the incident as an accident, the second shows it as purposeful, a bit of humorous horseplay by a couple of likable narcs. Police brutality is thereby condoned.

Where Lithgow lives in a relatively modest London row house despite being a member of government, his American counterpart lives with his wife and daughter in a palace in a wealthy suburb, flits around the country in a private jet, and hobnobs with big shots at glamorous Georgetown cocktail parties.

Intellectual analysis fades into the background. In its place, we get a lot of high-voltage action interspersed with set speeches whose chief purpose is to underscore the hopelessness of it all.UNICEF is committed to doing all it can to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in partnership with governments, civil society, business, academia and the United Nations family – and especially children and young people.

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