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War on Drugs

By Editorial Staff
Published June 1, 1988

by Pat Buchanan

In the war on drugs, we are a nation of wimps. We invoke the blustery rhetoric of mortal combat, and then employ tactics appropriate to a crackdown of a bingo epidemic in the parish basement.

Mayor Koch, for example, has himself approved a pilot program to provide hypodermic needles to drug addicts, so they won’t catch AIDS while shooting up. The governor of New York opposes the death penalty for the cop-killer who assassinated Edward Byrnes. The first lady firmly warns, ‘If you are a drug user, you’re an accomplice to murder,’ but we don’t behave that way. When basketball star Len Bias overdosed, we didn’t treat him as an ‘accomplice to murder.’ We acted as though Len Bias were a ‘victim’ and we were all responsible for his death.

Exasperated, the mayor and Education Secretary Bennett want to throw the Army, Navy and Air Force into the battle, attacking cocaine dealers in their jungle hideouts in Bolivia and Peru.

Well, let me offer a dissent.

We don’t need all that military hardware; and we ought not ask the armed forces to do what we lack the courage to do ourselves. We don’t need to go to Bolivia or Peru to engage the enemy; he is right here in the USA. Millions of adult Americans – politicians, journalists, actors, students, businessmen, brokers – regularly use drugs, regularly collaborate with crime, regularly contribute the billions of dollars, without which those jungle laboratories would close down.

Our Latin American critics are right. Upon what high horse does the U.S. government sit to denounce Mexico for not stopping narcotics from crossing our 2,000-mile frontier, when the U.S. government can’t stop drug sales in the shadow of the Capitol?

We don’t need to send Green Berets to lead peasant troops into battle in the hills of Bolivia; there are drug dealers by the thousands to be found daily on the streets of our own cities. And the police know who they are.

If America’s politicians truly believed drug peddlers were the greatest scourge ever visited upon our society, we would deal with them as though they were wearing the jackboots and uniform of Himmler’s SS. If we truly believed narcotics traffickers were the moral equivalent of an invading, occupying army, we would be car-bombing their headquarters, shooting them on sight, lynching their collaborators, like the French Marquis and Italian partisans did.

The truth is: We don’t believe what we say; our politicians only enjoy talking like that. Neither in Mayor Koch’s New York, nor in Washington, D.C., is the death penalty permitted. You can make a billion dollars selling drugs to 12-year-olds, or murder 50 Edward Byrnes here, and you will never pay with your life.

All the killing is done here by the drug lords, who, unlike our politicians, are serious men. They kill one another for turf; they impose the death penalty on informants; they bribe and shoot police; they pump drugs into the veins of children; they live like monarchs and consider jail sentences part of the risk of doing business. They do all the killing, and we bluster about ‘waging war.’ But what kind of war is this?

The tough, hard country America once was, when the nation’s style and tone were set by the returning veterans of World War II, has become a soft, weak, befuddled, mushy democracy, possessing neither the moral authority to preserve itself, nor the will to deal resolutely with enemies, foreign or domestic.

The drugs that are killing us do not afflict mainland China, or the Singapore of Lee Kuan Yew, or Turkey, or Saudi Arabia, or the Soviet Union. When those countries launch a ‘war on crime,’ criminals wind up, blindfolded, in front of a wall.

Do we want to stop drugs coming in? Have Congress ‘declare war’ against drug smugglers, establish special U.S. courts, impose a mandatory death penalty upon anyone caught bringing a seller’s supply of marijuana, heroin or cocaine into the United States; and establish an expedited system of appeals, whereby those apprehended in June can be executed by September. This is what we did with the German saboteurs caught coming into the United States, who only wanted to blow up our factories, not poison our children.

In World War II, America was a serious nation, deadly serious, as the world discovered; today, we are a frivolous people, making up in rhetoric for what we lack in resolve. Why not just can all this claptrap about ‘waging war’ on drugs, before we become an international laughing stock?


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