The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has been working overtime to absorb the global chaos that has thus far marked the year 2011. Researchers, senior analysts and interns alike have been barraged by reports of the odd, the unsettling, the surprising and the utterly catastrophic. Our earnest  efforts to fulfill our only function (pointing out the obvious!) has been a remarkable challenge so far this year.

For example, recent events in Japan started out as straightforward observations of the twin natural disasters of a major earthquake and a tsunami striking northern Japan, but those two events were quickly relegated to be relatively minor issues compared to the simultaneous failures of 3 out of 6 nuclear reactors located in the area.

While most observers have reported this unprecedented tragedy as strictly a Japanese problem, the discovery of trace elements of radiation from those reactors in milk produced by cows in Washington State and dangerous levels of radiation in the Pacific Ocean fisheries that feed many nations have identified the Japanese meltdowns as a global problem. Mainstream media outlets have been slow to recognize this 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Similarly, the widespread outbreak of popular revolutions in the Middle East and Northern Africa has riveted the world’s attention once again to the most politically volatile region on earth, all the while ignoring the West’s complicity in the deplorable conditions leading up to these events. European Colonialism, followed immediately by International Corporate Colonialism, has stoked the coals of resentment in a thousand dusty, impoverished towns for centuries.

When those coals burst into the flames of Islamic fundamentalist jihad against Western interests in the past 25 years, the blame was placed on people  (!) worshipping the wrong God, ignoring the obvious results of artificially mandated national borders, foreign and corporate interference in governments and the complete disenfranchisement of citizens within their own nations. Widespread poverty, disease and illiteracy in “oil rich” nations created conditions that had nowhere to go but downhill fast.

In belated acknowledgment of all this, NATO forces have been bombing Libyan dictator Muammar Qadaffi’s armed forces to prevent them from killing his own citizens who had risen in revolt against his 40-year reign, during which time Qadaffi has been a sponsor of state terror and a looter of his own nation’s treasury, amassing 140 tons of pure gold with which to pay his “security forces,” well-paid mercenaries loyal only to their paymaster.

Also during that time, international oil companies have reaped billions in profits from Libyan petroleum, paying a king’s ransom to Qadaffi to maintain the status quo of misery in Libya. The oil companies even chipped in to pay his $1.5 billion settlement with the relatives of Qafaffi’s victims of the Lockerbie jet bombing over Scotland, a savage incident of state-sponsored terror that outraged the entire world. And this was after they looked the other way when Qafaffi bombed a disco in Germany that killed American servicemen, an act that prompted President Reagan to retaliate by bombing Tripoli.

Qadaffi is not an anomaly, but typical of the leaders of these nations; greedy and power mad dictators and kings propped up by Western military might on behalf of Western business interests at the direct expense of millions of people’s lives. Those expecting that the Western nations’ belated verbal and military support of these nations’ human rights and popular revolutions will result in these new governments continuing the old relationships in the old way are bound to be sorely disappointed (especially since only those nations sitting atop a sea of oil qualify for military intervention while the poorer countries benefit only from our leaders bestowing them their most earnest “atta boys” and “‘way to gos!” to help them overthrow their respective bloodthirsty tyrants).

Another lesson lost on many people concerning the interdependence of all nations is the murder spree being conducted by Mexican drug cartels, an actual shooting war against the Mexican government and innocent bystanders by criminal gangs determined to win their share of the billions to be made by selling illegal drugs to American citizens.

The United States could end this war tomorrow by legalizing these drugs, but powerful interests stand in the way of ending this Prohibition: most prominently the DEA and other elements of a gargantuan drug-fighting law enforcement infrastructure, and the huge growth industry that the American penal system has become.

The unceasing demand for recreational drugs by American consumers has proven the futility of the War on Drugs, just as alcohol prohibition had failed 80 years prior, succeeding only in creating a wealthy class of murderous organized criminals. Yesterday’s bootleggers founded vast fortunes supplying the nation with booze, and there’s even more money to be made today on products made from weeds and wild plants.

With over 2,000,000 American citizens in prison, half of them POWs in the War on Drugs, and a neighboring nation being corrupted and destroyed by the habits of our consenting adults, almost no one considers implementing the only logical step: ending this futile prohibition and taxing and regulating the sales of drugs that are selling like hot cakes anyway, legal or not, just like we do with the most deadly drug known to man, alcohol.

Normal commerce, better relations with our neighboring nations, and a welcome shot in the arm to our treasury are what we have to gain. What do we have to lose? Half our prisons, for one, and the pervasive sense of hypocrisy that surrounds this issue. It’s getting harder and harder to see the forest for the trees. We deny that nuclear meltdowns in foreign countries affect anyone beyond their borders, support the revolutions of those we once helped to oppress and allow a good neighbor to drown in the excesses of our citizens. Pointing out the obvious is a thankless business, but we here at DOPOTO feel obligated to point out what is painfully obvious (our specialty!); that we are all in this world together and hurt one another at our collective peril.

This was a report from The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious.

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