America is unsettled about the war in Afghanistan and with good reason; it has lasted almost a decade and victory is not in sight. Yet the nation has been fighting a more insidious war for 40 years. It is being waged along our borders, into our communities and next door to our homes. It is the War on Drugs; a conflict that continues to escalate and which threatens our institutions, friends and family.
I don’t pretend to suggest how we wage and win the War on Drugs, only that we must. Psychotropic drugs are eroding the American way of life. And if we don’t find a solution fast America will become the battlefield that Mexico has turned into.
Last week 40 people died in a bloody surge of drug-violence in major Mexican cities. The bloodshed is typical of the growing violence gripping Mexico as the government employs the police and army to crush drug cartels that grow richer and more powerful each passing year.
Last year, 15,000 Mexicans were murdered in the cartel battles that fought against each other and the Mexican authorities. What hasn’t been so widely reported is the increase in cartel activity on the United States side of the border.
In the wake of this infestation the Obama administration has said it has the resolve to win the drug war. If you think you have heard this message before it is because you have. President Richard M. Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” on June 17, 1971.
“America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive,” Nixon said in a national address.
Nixon went on to add: “I have asked the Congress to provide the legislative authority and the funds to fuel this kind of an offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive dealing with the problems of sources of supply, as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad, wherever they are in the world.”
To say it has been a costly and ineffective war is an understatement. The Los Angeles Times estimates that the U.S. has spent $1 trillion in the past 40 years fighting the war on drugs. That is roughly what World II cost the U.S. (According to www.threeworldwars.com, World War II cost the United States $2.1 trillion in 1990 dollars, or just over $1 trillion dollars in today’s money if you run the numbers at www.InflationCalculator.com.)
All this expenditure and yet we continue to lose this war; a war that Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush and Obama all promised to win.
How do we know we are losing it? The U.S. Justice Department reports that Mexican drug cartels now operate in 2,500 U.S. cities and towns.
There is also the U.S. prison rate. In 2008, more than 7.3 million people were in jail, on probation, parole or conditional release. That was 3.2 percent of the entire U.S. adult population or 1 in every 31 adults. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between one-third and one half of America’s prison population are incarcerated because of drug related offenses.
Obama likes to talk about meeting the nation’s healthcare crisis, but he has spent little time addressing the financial and spiritual cost of drugs.
Finally, on Jan. 27 Obama said the question of drug legalization and regulation is an "entirely legitimate topic for debate" — the first sitting president to do so since cocaine, heroin and marijuana were made illegal.
In a question-and-answer session on YouTube, the President focused on drug policy. Obama responded to a question from a representative of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of former law enforcement officers whose experience on the streets has led them to conclude that drug prohibition actually drives crime and does not solve drug problems. You can watch the video of this question and answer here.
Even though some conservatives, such as the late William F. Buckley Jr., provided reasoned arguments for the legalization of drugs, the President has stated he is not in favor of that. Instead he says drugs should be treated like a public health problem.
I am surprised that the White House and the First Lady have put more energy into promoting a healthy diet for our children than they have in saving our children from the ravages of drugs. After all, the President has mostly ignored the drug crisis. Only recently has Obama even addressed the problem, saying that more money will have to be spent on rehabilitation. This extra money, says Obama, will steer non-violent, first-time drug offenders "into the straight and narrow."
I have news for the President: America is not imperiled by the likes of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who was caught on camera smoking grass. The real threat comes from Mexican drug cartels that represent a clear and present danger. They are vast criminal organizations that smuggle unprecedented amounts of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine into the country.
The Obama administration denies the impact that cartels are having on America. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently told a crowd at the University of Texas at El Paso that it is, “inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the border is overrun with violence and out of control.”
Texas Governor Rick Perry disagrees. Immediately after Napolitano’s speech in which she actually bragged that the Obama administration is protecting the nation from cartel crime, Perry’s office released this statement:
“The federal resources in Texas are woefully inadequate to secure the border with Mexico, and Gov. Perry will continue urging the Obama administration to do its job and protect our citizens from the ruthless drug cartels. It’s unfortunate that a former border governor, who knows the implications of a porous border, continues to downplay the fact that there is a war waging within a stone’s throw, or for that matter, firing range, from our border communities.”
Last year two U.S. consulate employees were assassinated in Juarez, Mexico. Perry ordered Texas National Guard Lakota helicopters to shore up the U.S./Mexican border.
Perry said that the deployment of the helicopters was meant to contain spill-over violence from Mexican drug cartels and that he was willing to put “additional resources on standby to combat any potential situation.”
But defending America’s borders is the President’s job. It seems that Obama is just another President in a long line who has failed to deal with America’s drug problem. The stakes have never been higher than they are for his administration.
Yours in good times and bad,
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report