Our nation has been attempting to combat the issue of illegal drug use for decades. The government officially declared a War on Drugs in the 1960s. This declaration of war has created enormous debate throughout our nation. Its opponents believe that a War on Drugs is an utter waste of money and there is no actual way of winning it. In contrast, some people believe it is worth every penny and we are progressively gaining the upper hand against it.
The U.S. government has been fighting this war numerous ways, one being giving money/military support to the governments of illegal-drug producing nations. Nations such as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Mexico, and Honduras all produce illegal drugs and export them. The majority of these drug producers/traffickers are tied to drug cartels and organized crime syndicates. Ultimately, these illegal drugs end up on the streets of our big cities, after successfully being smuggled past border checkpoints and/or ports.
Should we continue to prop up these governments by giving them billions of tax-payer dollars? The answer is yes, but only to our next door neighbors. South American nations should receive aid, but it should only be used for drug eradication (Chiefly, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras, and Paraguay). For instance, the situation in Colombia is exceptionally obscure. Colombia has been fighting a civil war since 1964. When our government sends aid to the Colombian government, we are now engaging in their civil war. We are then taking sides against left-wing guerrilla organizations such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN). These conflicts jeopardize not just our military personnel, but our national security. Moreover, it enables us to engage in conflicts that spread outside of just a counter-narcotics mission.
Now don’t get me wrong, we should give aid to some countries to support their counter-narcotic operations. Although, these nations should only be our next door neighbors. Think about it like this, should we be giving billions of dollars to the Colombian government, or should we be giving billions of dollars to a neighbor such as Mexico? Which nation shares a border with the U.S.? Many experts believe that programs such as Plan Colombia, have not helped reduce drug trafficking in the U.S. On the other hand, Mérida Initiative (Plan Mexico) has contributed to decreasing drug trafficking into the U.S. Most cocaine confiscated coming into the U.S. was by the Mexican Navy, according to The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC). What would make more sense, for us to support the Colombian or Mexican Navy?
Instead of spending billions of dollars on other South American nations, why aren’t we supporting the Canadian and Cuban Navy? Wouldn’t it make sense for us to support Canada/Cuba’s naval counter-narcotic operations? Nations such as Cuba, Mexico and Canada should be financially supported by our government to increase their anti-drug smuggling operations. Cuba, Mexico, and Canada are a major line of defense in America’s War on Drugs; they should be given hefty financial/military packages by the U.S. government to support the ongoing War on Drugs.
If we were to aid the Cuban Navy, it would incalculably benefit both Cuba and the U.S. Most contraband that arrives in Florida’s main cities have to pass Cuban waters (Cuba is just 100 miles from Florida). Currently, Cuba’s Navy is obsolete and would not be able to conduct proper counter-narcotics operations. We should be supplying Cuba with financial/military aid packages, just as we do to Mexico and Canada. Furthermore, our military should assist in training Cuban forces dealing with counter-narcotics operations.
There are three pillars that describe how we should be fighting the War on Drugs. The first deals directly with U.S. consumption and dependency of illegal drugs. This involves creating public awareness, anti-drug propaganda and access to professional counseling/treatment to illegal drug users. The second pillar is to reduce funds available to illegal drug-producing nations and focusing these funds primarily on increasing drug eradication. The last pillar focuses on using funds that were supposed to be given to these drug producing nations and investing it in securing all of our borders. Furthermore, this will secure our seaports, airports, vehicle checkpoints and railroad terminals. This will not just create more jobs in our nation, but it will make it more difficult for smugglers to get contraband past the border.
Many people who oppose the War on Drugs, believe the legalization of drugs would end the problem immediately. For example, they feel that Mexican drug cartels would vanish overnight if all drugs were legalized. These people fail to understand that Mexican drug cartels are organized crime syndicates. The major Mexican drug cartels all engage in different forms of criminal activities, not just drug-related. These cartels end up engaging in illegal activities that range from counterfeiting to human trafficking. How would legalizing drugs make these cartels magically disappear? The majority of their non-drug related illicit activities are profitable enough for them to continue their operations.
Opponents of the War on Drugs, tend to always relate to other issues regarding wasteful government spending linked to the War on Drugs. The issue of our prisons being overcrowded is always mentioned. These people feel that our government cannot keep all of these drug offenders inside of our overcrowded prisons. In reality, is the prison system really controlled/owned by our government? Not at all, it is controlled by the prison-industrial complex. Yes, these are private prison companies that are in business to do what every other business does, make money.
Another related problem that our nation faces is the use of legal-regulated prescription drugs. This is a perfect example of how legal-regulated drugs are destroying our nation. Currently, around 80% of the world’s opioid pain medication is consumed in the U.S. Do you know how many Americans die every year from legal prescription drug use? Approximately, 30,000 died last year. Critics of the War on Drugs can attack our government’s policies as much as they want, but if all drugs were legalized, you can guarantee that these numbers of deaths would sadly skyrocket. The concept of legalizing/decriminalizing drugs would indeed create massive social and economic problems for our nation, especially once a person is completely addicted. Furthermore, if all drugs were legalized, what would happen to the American workforce? How would corporations deal with this dilemma? Are having active drug-users at one’s workplace a smart and viable policy?
So, is it possible in the future to win the War on Drugs? It is an achievable goal. We need to focus on these three pillars and allow our nation to fight this war more effectively by having the private and public sectors joining forces. Organizations such as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Drug-Free America Foundation and the World Federation Against Drugs should receive more government grants and donations. At the same time, we must increase drug eradication and collaborate with our neighbors in counter-narcotics operations.