The War of Terror vs. the War on Drugs

September 12, 2006 | By | 4 Replies More

It appears that the War on Terror is shaping up to be as decisive, efficient and effective as the War on Drugs: “Mission Accomplished since 1933”. The enemy is hard to define, hard to detect, and there is no exit strategy (see bureaucracies, below) in the unlikely case of a declared win.Terror is a state of mind, a reaction to extreme and unexpected negative events. Those Saudis who attacked on 9/11/01 (using materials and training acquired in the U.S.) set off a chain of events that is turning our country into a Police State. This is a win for them.

Here are some signs of a gathering Police State. Everyone must submit to search at all public gatherings, or for long distance transportation. The government requires everyone to carry ID (like the proposed unified driver’s licenses). The state requires communications companies (like the phone company and internet ISP’s) to record and store at least the endpoints of all communications, if not the content (even after the Carnivore controversy, the FBI still keeps summaries of every email). The country has a disproportionate percentage of its citizenry serving long terms of incarceration for non-violent crimes. More and more laws are passed and enforced “for their own good,” such as helmets or seat belts.

Back to the point: Both of these wars established new bureaucracies, and Parkinson’s Law (a verifiable scientific theory) says that bureaucracy increases at approximately 6% per year, no matter what the task size and/or change in size of the task at hand. One of the prime activities of aging bureaucracies (in terms of man-hours) is to justify their continued existence. Our tax dollars at work.

Also, it is a military axiom that shield technology always lags behind that of penetrators. No matter how inconvenient a military, social, and political shield they try to build against terrorists (or drug traffickers), the attackers will always be a step ahead. Do we really need another arms race?

I think it is safe to assume that terrorists will not be able to use passenger planes as weapons. They can take down airplanes, I’m sure they will. But now passengers know that a hijack is a death sentance, and will fight to prevent it from being something worse. I would. I don’t think that confiscating drinking water and nail clippers from passengers will affect this in any significant way. But I digress…

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Category: American Culture, Current Events, Politics, War

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (4)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." Ben Franklin sure as hell called that one.

    After the school shooting scares in the 1990's, teachers took away scissors and nail clippers, and expelled children for pointing chicken fingers at eachother like guns. After school-aged children began dealing drugs in addition to using them, schools confiscated and administered all prescription medicines and gave detentions to kids for possessing cough drops. After gang violence swept the country and a few famous rappers got shot, schools banned bandanas of red and blue- the Blood and Crips' trademark colors.

    We too often overcompensate for our fears in a reactionary way. It may help us sleep better at night, briefly, but something else terrible and frightening will come to replace it.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Dan: Your point about bureacracies is well taken. Both of these wars are permanent. As long as one person is walking around with marijuana in his pocket and as long as one person dreams of blowing up one thing in America, you've got yourself two full-fledged, expensive, counter-productive and never-ending wars.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Indeed, there are many parallels between the "War on Terror" and the "War on Drugs:" both involve an "enemy" that has existed for all of human history and that undoubtedly will continue to exist for the rest of human existence. Thus, both are ideal "wars" for neocons who believe we can never have enough guns, B2 bombers, secret prisons, illegal wiretaps, etc.

    Of course, we do need some guns, B2 bombers, prisons, wiretaps, etc., but the neocon sees these as the only solutions to our social problems. It does not seem to occur to them that spending more money on, say, better schools, better healthcare, better childcare, better infrastructure, more drug rehab centers, more student financial aid, more international aid, etc., might be ounces of prevention that could avoid the many tons of B2 bomber cure. No, to them, such social programs just represent "higher taxes," while more bombers are "a matter of national security" and, thus, are immune from criticism. In fact, better schools, better healthcare, better childcare, etc., are also matters of national security — just ones with longer time horizons.

    In part, this might explain why Bush "doesn't think about" bin Laden anymore and why we still haven't captured him: as soon as bin Laden is in custody, Republican "war" rhetoric will lose much of its urgency and bravado. Better for all the Republicans if bin Laden remains a potential threat, so they can continue to sell America their politically self-serving "war on terror" — just as they sell us the "war on drugs" that is far more about prisons than about rehab.

    For more on this subject, see some of my previous comments about the "war on terrorism." Note, especially, the aptly-numbered 2001:
    http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=397#comment-2http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=290#comment-8http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=273#comment-7http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=263#comment-5

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    The following is a policy statement from the Drug Policy Alliance (for more, see here) :

    Many of the problems the drug war purports to resolve are in fact caused by the drug war itself. So-called “drug-related” crime is a direct result of drug prohibition's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand. Public health problems like HIV and Hepatitis C are all exacerbated by zero tolerance laws that restrict access to clean needles. The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have us believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure, joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

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