War on Drugs or War on Terror: Which should we lose to win the other?

From here:

We have been completely unable to defeat illegal drugs. We squeeze suppliers and new ones take their places. We squeeze buyers and our prisons overflow with nonviolent offenders to the point we parole rapists and murderers. We squeeze the crops and the farmers and end up providing aid, comfort, and a damned good rallying cry to our enemies.

We cannot win the War on Drugs without actually fighting it as if it were a war. By that I mean we would have to institute martial law over substantial portions of our country and suspend civil rights, as every drug user would have to be considered a soldier in open revolt against the government. Fighting a war with half-measures and inconsistent goals is handing victory to the enemy.

But now we have a real war, or something closer to a real war, on our hands. We have to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda to preserve our interests in key parts of the world. In other words, the Taliban and al Qaeda are real enemies in a real war, not PR punching bags in a bland rhetorical conflict. If we ‘lose’ to heroin there are more junkies on the streets. If we lose to al Qaeda we have to invade more countries. (How would an invasion of Indonesia go down back home?)

If we want to win the war on drugs, we can’t do that in Afghanistan.

But, we can’t win the war on terror there either, so it’s pretty much recreational warfare anyway.

Drugs and terror are in the minds of the users. Want eliminate drug crime, legalize drugs. Want to end terrorism, stop being terrorized.


OK, the title was stupid and I shouldn’t have chosen it. What I meant was, and I thought I made it clear in the post’s body, that we can either prosecute the War on Drugs in the traditional fashion (including destroying poppy fields) or we can make strategic gains against the Taliban and al Qaeda in key strongholds such as Afghanistan.

Now in stores:

War on Webster!!

No Surrender, no opponent, no victory! USA! USA!

To wage war against words is as dumb as it sounds.

I’ve been pro-legalization ever since I read Peter McWilliam’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do, a libertarian take on victimless crimes.

All the drug war has done for us is poured billions of dollars down a rat hole, compromised our civil rights, given extra-national criminals leverage over our population, and gotten law enforcement officers needlessly killed. Drug possession of amounts for personal use should be de-criminalized. Drugs should be regulated and taxed, and the proceeds should go towards addiction treatment and research.

Imagine how much further we’d be if instead of paying for paramilitary equipment for the DEA, we’d spent that money on understanding the brain and how addiction works within it. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if we had a successful treatment for addiction, one that could carry over into non-drug addictions like gambling. Imagine how much lower our crime rates would be if junkies didn’t need to steal or prostitute themselves for the money to afford another fix.

I’d gladly sacrifice the War on Drugs, even if it weren’t competing for resources with the War on Terror (which I think is far more an exercise in propaganda than it is a meaningful effort to address terrorist groups). If putting aside the War on Drugs meant that we could manage Afghanistan with the cooperation of the people there and put al Qaeda on the defensive, so much the better.

Opium cultivation is the only profitable industry Afghanistan has got. We can’t expect them to accept its eradication unless we have a substitute to offer them.

Likewise with the cocaleros of South America.

Nothing wrong with opium. I hear tell there is a worldwide shortage. Pay Afghans to grow the stuff, make medicines with it, burn the rest. It is only money after all, and it keeps them out of trouble.

A shortage? Afghan growers have had a record year. Depending on whose estimates, (which part of our government,) they provide between 90 and 96% of the world’s opium and heroin. For generations, the principal industries in Afghanistan have been opium and smuggling. That’s right, those knitted “Afghans” are not actually made there.

Overall, I like your plan. The cost-to-benefit ratio probably beats filling our prisons with junkies and dealers.

Did we win the War on Poverty while I wasn’t paying attention? I don’t think we did and I don’t think we will win the War on Drugs and I don’t think we will win the War on Terror. I don’ t think any of the three are winnable.

I propose a moratorium on “declaring war” on anything but a sovereign nation where a clear victory can be achieved and an end is in sight. Perpetual “War” is just too 1984ish for me.

I understand Larry Miller of Sit’n’Sleep is waging a war on high mattress prices. Maybe he can win that one…