Losing The War On Drugs

Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 1:00 am
By: Steve Hemmingsen
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As long as we’ve got things stirred up on teenage drinking, let’s look at the drug war, too. 
We’re losing it.  Or are we? 
You often hear people say the War on Drugs is a waste of time and money, but I don’t know that it’s that clear cut, much like our real wars dating back to the Korean standoff 60 years ago.  The problem with today’s wars, including the War on Drugs, is that we don’t know if we’re winning or losing.  How will we know if we’ve won the war in Iraq?  That was the problem in Vietnam.  The benchmarks, to use a popular word, keep shifting.  Example: the new fighting in Afgahnistan.  I’m reading that this latest outbreak as much a tribal drug war over poppy fields as a resurgence of the Taliban.  Shifting benchmarks, again. 
The same applies to the drug war.  We appear to be losing ground especially with the meth epidemic, but are we losing the war or just losing battles?  One has to think that someplace along the line this war has caused some young people to stop and think.  It has probably saved some lives, but we won’t know.  Is the DARE program still around; dare to say no to drugs and alcohol?  Did it work?  Does it work?  There’s no way to know for certain.  Some say it was a failure, but you have to try something.
The problem is the failures, the growth of meth, carloads of pot crossing South Dakota, drugs pouring into the U.S. from other countries, are easy to spot.  The successes aren’t, especially in an evolved culture in which people my age think doing some pot after work is like reaching into the fridge for a beer. 
The mistake in the war on drugs is in the name.  In hindsight, it was a great rallying cry but the word “war” still tends to mean a great crusade followed by a great victory.  The fight against drugs isn’t a lot different than the fight against cancer.  Don’t expect clearly defined major victories.  There will be more easily definable major losses, but it doesn’t mean you give up the good fight.  You can argue about tactics and titles, but the war on drugs is one where we have to stay the course because without it things will be even worse. 

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