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War on Terror As Bad As War on Drugs

by Rep. Ron Paul

I would like to draw an analogy between the drug war and the war against terrorism. In the last 30 years, we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a failed war on drugs. This war has been used as an excuse to attack our liberties and privacy. It has been an excuse to undermine our financial privacy while promoting illegal searches and seizures with many innocent people losing their lives and property. Seizure and forfeiture have harmed a great number of innocent American citizens.

Another result of this unwise war has been the corruption of many law enforcement officials. It is well known that with the profit incentives so high, we are not even able to keep drugs out of our armed prisons. Making our whole society a prison would not bring success to this floundering war on drugs. Sinister motives of the profiteers and gangsters, along with prevailing public ignorance, keep this futile war going. Illegal and artificially high priced drugs drive the underworld to produce, sell and profit from this social depravity. Failure to recognize that drug addiction, like alcoholism, is a disease rather than a crime, encourage the drug warriors in efforts that have not and will not ever work. We learned the hard way about alcohol prohibition and crime, but we have not yet seriously considered it in the ongoing drug war.

Corruption associated with the drug dealers is endless. It has involved our police, the military, border guards and the judicial system. It has affected government policy and our own CIA. The artificially high profits from illegal drugs provide easy access to funds for rogue groups involved in fighting civil wars throughout the world. Ironically, opium sales by the Taliban and artificially high prices helped to finance their war against us. In spite of the incongruity, we rewarded the Taliban this spring with a huge cash payment for promises to eradicate some poppy fields. Sure.

For the first 140 years of our history, we had essentially no Federal war on drugs, and far fewer problems with drug addiction and related crimes was a consequence. In the past 30 years, even with the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the drug war, little good has come of it. We have vacillated from efforts to stop the drugs at the source to severely punishing the users, yet nothing has improved. This war has been behind most big government policy powers of the last 30 years, with continual undermining of our civil liberties and personal privacy. Those who support the IRS’s efforts to collect maximum revenues and root out the underground economy, have welcomed this intrusion, even if the drug underworld grows in size and influence.

The drug war encourages violence. Government violence against nonviolent users is notorious and has led to the unnecessary prison overpopulation. Innocent taxpayers are forced to pay for all this so-called justice. Our eradication project through spraying around the world, from Colombia to Afghanistan, breeds resentment because normal crops and good land can be severely damaged. Local populations perceive that the efforts and the profiteering remain somehow beneficial to our own agenda in these various countries.

Drug dealers and drug gangs are a consequence of our unwise approach to drug usage. Many innocent people are killed in the crossfire by the mob justice that this war generates. But just because the laws are unwise and have had unintended consequences, no excuses can ever be made for the monster who would kill and maim innocent people for illegal profits. But as the violent killers are removed from society, reconsideration of our drug laws ought to occur.

A similar approach should be applied to our war on those who would terrorize and kill our people for political reasons. If the drug laws and the policies that incite hatred against the United States are not clearly understood and, therefore, never changed, the number of drug criminals and terrorists will only multiply. Although this unwise war on drugs generates criminal violence, the violence can never be tolerated. Even if repeal of drug laws would decrease the motivation for drug dealer violence, this can never be an excuse to condone the violence. On the short term, those who kill must be punished, imprisoned, or killed. Long term though, a better understanding of how drug laws have unintended consequences is required if we want to significantly improve the situation and actually reduce the great harms drugs are doing to our society.

The same is true in dealing with those who so passionately hate us that suicide becomes a just and noble cause in their effort to kill and terrorize us. Without some understanding of what has brought us to the brink of a worldwide conflict in reconsidering our policies around the globe, we will be no more successful in making our land secure and free than the drug war has been in removing drug violence from our cities and towns.

Without some understanding why terrorism is directed towards the United States, we may well build a prison for ourselves with something called homeland security while doing nothing to combat the root causes of terrorism. Let us hope we figure this out soon. We have promoted a foolish and very expensive domestic war on drugs for more than 30 years. It has done no good whatsoever. I doubt our Republic can survive a 30-year period of trying to figure out how to win this guerilla war against terrorism. Hopefully, we will all seek the answers in these trying times with an open mind and understanding. CP

Ron Paul is a libertarian/Republican who represents Texas’s 14th congressional district.

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