How much of a Sham is the American “War on Drugs”?

The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed

This is a statement from the critical report on the War on Drugs released by the Global Commission on Drug Policy on June 2011.

The war on drugs, pioneered by US President Richard Nixon, has been going on for about five decades now, with billions upon billions lost to the economy, in what seems to be about the greatest sham the country ever invested in.

The campaign relies heavily on military aid and intervention in order to curb the influx of drugs into the community, either through illegal manufacture inside the country or trade through the border. There have been attempts to choke the distribution and consumption of psychoactive drugs yet without any successful results as the sale and usage continues to grow at an alarming rate.


The term “war on drugs” was popularized by the media on June 17, 1971, after Nixon delivered a special message to the congress declaring drug abuse to be “public enemy number one” and urging the country’s leaders to allocate more money to the rehabilitation of addicts and prevention of new ones.

Recently, however, as of 2009, the Obama administration and in particular the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Gil Kerlikowske stated that the term “War on Drugs” is counterproductive and that the administration would not be using it anymore.

When you start fighting over which term to use to define your very agenda fifty years after the fact, then perhaps it’s high-time to throw in the towel and realize you have no idea what you’re doing.


The concept of policing other nations is nothing new to the United States. Their brazen incursions into foreign territory, either politically or military-wise have left behind raging fires, both metaphorically and literally.

Plan Colombia Program is a prime example of this. As part of the contract of this program, the United States currently spends $500 million annually on aid to Colombia, mostly in the form of arsenal, military training and high-tech gear in order to combat guerrilla groups that are involved in illegal drug trade.

The Colombian School of America (SOA) provides counterinsurgency training to Colombian military personnel with a heavy role played by United States enforcement agencies. The human rights abuses of these personnel have been painted in red across the Jungles of Colombia yet there does not seem to be even the slightest decrease in drug manufacture or distribution. Makes one wonder where all that money went.

Training foreign soldiers to do your bidding is one thing, but direct invasions are entirely another. However, the US showed that it isn’t past invading other states either as was apparent by Operation Just Cause, in 1989, which resulted in the invasion of Panama, and ultimately ended in the surrender of General Manuel Noriega in 1990.

While the CIA had been known to be directly involved in protecting Manuel and his drug trafficking, it resulted in literally no prosecution for anyone but the people of Panama.


While we are not suggesting, by any means, that legalization of drugs is the way to go, it is apparent that the way the United States has been handling their so called “War on Drugs” is abysmal.

With the large-scale legalization of Cannabis on the horizon of the American Political

Sphere and with many states already having legalized it to an extent, such as California, it is becoming more and more apparent that there is dwindling support for this campaign and the absurd amount of tax payers’ money that has been thrown at it has been seen as a monumental waste.

Is it true that the war, rather than curbing the amount of drugs in the country and the world, actually served other ulterior motives of the elite few? Is it true that under an honest leadership, the war could have been successful?

Perhaps. But we will never know.

As of recent polls, nearly 70% of Americans consider the war to have been a failure and a similar percentage believe that treatment of heroin and cocaine addicts, as opposed to prosecution, is the way forward.

The public perception towards drug users has mellowed. Do we have Snoop Dog to thank or the US’ government’s atrocious failure?

The public makes decisions largely based on emotion, but sometimes blunt logic actually prevails. It was clear that the war cost a lot more than it helped. It is also clear that the damage done to society because of drugs is largely inconsequential when put next to the financial bleeding of the American economy.

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