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America's Longest War by Feine, Paul

Americas Longest War is a documentary about the war the US government has been waging against, what Nixon called it, public enemy number one: dangerous drugs. In the 40 years of near zero tolerance drug policy that followed over 1 trillion dollar has been spent on this War on drugs . And as in any war this war has also claimed a lot of victims. Has the war been effective in fighting drug trade and abuse? And are there any possible ulterior motives present for these anti-drug legislations?

Social Interest

Law enforcement agencies are traditionally meant to protect the interests of the people. However, in the war on drugs a higher cause is served (un)intentionally creating a lot of collateral damage in society: Long sentences for non-violent drug crimes break up families; Excessive violence in SWAT team drug raids cause a lot of unnecessary victims; Police departments focusing primarily on drug offenders using compounded money and goods to fortify their own budgets while leaving other forms of crime unattended; Also the documentary shows that racial motives still play a pivotal role in the war on drugs.

Political Relevance

The documentary shows how all the presidents since Nixon have been handling the topic of drug legislation. The focus is on the drug policy of Obama. Before his first term Obama promised to approve the use of medical marijuana, but later followed in the footsteps of his predecessors cracking down hard on suppliers and users. In the meanwhile policy makers, scientists, historians and the general public are debating about proper drug classification, the penalty system and possible alternatives to fight the war on drugs.

Historic Interest

The Alcohol Prohibition by the US government in the 1920-ies showed that making a substance illegal will not necessarily result in the desired effects. The drinking habits of the people changed from soft alcoholic beverages like beer to strong liquor and a vast illegal circuit arose supplying illegally brewed alcohol. Besides the fact that regular citizens were criminalized for drinking alcohol, mafia and corruption flourished, eventually leading to the repeal in 1933. The documentary explains how a parallel can be drawn between the alcohol prohibition of the previous century and the contemporary war on drugs.

Director
Feine, Paul
Producer
Java Films SARL
Duration
52 min.
Year of release
2012
Language
English

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