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?)