My views on war are well-known. War, any war, merely sets the stage for its offspring, another war. No doubt many will argue that WWII was a war of necessity, but arguably Stalin committed crimes as heinous as those of Hitler, and no one lifted a finger to stop him.
I suspect one has to look deeper into causation to discern the “real” reasons for our entrance into conflict. I seem to recall that there was plenty of evidence of the German genocide of the Jewish population long before we found it “necessary” to enter the war theatre.
Even if you claim that we “won” wars I and II, much of the messiness that spilled over into the Middle East no doubt planted the seeds for todays troubles. And lets not forget Korea, which ended in a stalemate and the accursed Vietnam, which was a pure loss.
Iraq on no account can be considered a success, and we could have saved a bucket load of money and blood had we merely talked to the Russians before our foray into Afghanistan.
Going back into history, we find so many wars on the European continent that we have a hard time teasing them apart from each other. The same no doubt can be said of wars around the globe. Revenge is as often the motive of war as any economic goal.
Many of course will argue that we had two “successful” wars–our war of Independence and later the Civil War. I suppose the first is arguable, but this was never a full-scale war in the manner of Napoleon’s assault on Russia and the deadly retreat that followed. And we can just as justifiably claim that the after effects of the Civil War still remain with us, and foster a North-South split that is still real in the minds of many.
Given this rather dubious history, it’s questionable that we still like to term our efforts to eradicate ills in society, as “wars” on. . . . We have wars on poverty, wars on drugs, wars on obesity. One in particular is, the war on drugs is now 40 years old. According to statistics, not only have we not made a dent in drug trafficking or usage, it’s actually much worse than it was.
The cost in human life is appalling, just look to the drug wars going on in Mexico over control of a very lucrative drug trafficking. Afghanistan, in part, can never be tamed of its tribal limitations, because of the money-making proclivities of the poppy.
This is to say nothing of course to the costs of incarceration of drug users and peddlers, which constitute a ever-growing majority of prison populations. Add to that the costs of man-power expended to bring these mostly nonviolent offenders to justice. Police, courts, attorney’s fees, institutions, parole and probation personnel, and on and on.
And, for all our efforts, the problem only gets worse. We don’t address the reasons for drug usage, we merely try to control the bodies of some few users who we catch.
It is probably true that the civil rights movement in this country would not have been successful (at least not when it was) if it had not been for the genius of Martin Luther King Jr, and his insistence on non-violent protest. It is just as likely that Gandhi would not have successfully pushed the British from his country had it not been for that same approach.
Making war on things simply creates a violent mind-set, that makes all those who you are trying to change the “enemy”. As any good warrior will tell you, the most effective soldier is one who has learned to “hate” his opponent. As Patton allegedly said, “I’m not asking you to die for your country, but to make the other poor bastard die for his.”
The enemy must be evil, without redeeming value, utterly wrong. And of course, nothing is ever than black and white. And for every piece of evidence that suggests that drugs are the satan of all substances, there are plenty of contrary examples where drugs are not so evil. Medical marijuana anyone?
As in war, when you hate your enemy, you dehumanize him, and he dehumanizes you. This plants the seeds for the next conflict, where losers seek revenge and retribution, and winners live in the demented atmosphere of righteousness that is not remotely true.
Our only hope, it seems to me is to find common ground with drugs. We must turn our efforts from interdiction and punishment to education, treatment, and yes, even the recognition that moderate usage of some drugs may be tolerable. At least no worse than moderate usage of alcohol.
It is, I believe, why the Global Commission on Drug Policy‘s newest guidelines make so much sense. President Jimmy Carter, long a peace advocate, makes the case here, and I think he is right.
What do you think?
- Did the Russians support the Germans during the Holocaust and World War 2 (wiki.answers.com)