John Schwenkler notes that Rahm Emanuel was and is a drug war hawk and this has been leading some libertarians to expect continuity in drug policy, but it’s not as if this should come as a big surprise. In his Latin America policy speech in Miami earlier this year, Obama made clear that he was entirely on board with current policy, and why wouldn’t he be? Everyone is probably already tired of hearing me say this, but it seems as if it needs to be said yet again: Obama is extraordinarily conventional in almost all of his policy views and he normally hews to the establishment line. To make the point about Emanuel clear: his appointment tends to confirm what we already know about Obama’s policy views; it is not evidence of a sudden shift away from views that he has held in the past. It is because Obama is a drug war hawk that Emanuel’s views on this subject will simply reinforce Obama’s own, and the same is true about other subjects.
Obama has stated his support for Plan Colombia, which is the clearest expression of militarized interdiction and combining anti-narcotics efforts with meddling foreign policy, but heavy-handed, useless drug war tactics will not be limited to other countries. As he said in May:
We have to do our part. And that is why a core part of this effort will be a northbound-southbound strategy. We need tougher border security, and a renewed focus on busting up gangs and traffickers crossing our border. But we must address the material heading south as well. As President, I’ll make it clear that we’re coming after the guns, we’re coming after the money laundering, and we’re coming after the vehicles that enable this crime. And we’ll crack down on the demand for drugs in our own communities, and restore funding for drug task forces and the COPS program. We must win the fights on our own streets if we’re going to secure the region.
Not to worry–infringing your constitutional liberties is necessary to make sure that farmers in Colombia cannot make a living, so it’s all for the greater good.