And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.
. . . Marc Anthony speaking in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, predicting what would follow Caesar’s murder.
On Thursday, July 18, 2013, at 12:20:14 p.m. central time, the United States had spent $22,443,911,046 on the Drug War. This is not millions you’re looking at; it’s billions. The Drug War Clock is spinning so fast – at something like $600 per SECOND – that it won’t be long before that $22 billion–plus rolls over to $23 billion and in the blink of an eye, $24 billion, $25 billion, 26, 27, 32, 46, 360, 770. . . .
The U.S. spends $51,000,000,000 annually on the Drug War. That’s not millions either. We’re just over halfway through the year; it looks like we’ll break our own record and reach or exceed $52,000,000,000 by Christmas.
The Drug War Clock looks something like the screen of a slot machine; instead of cherries, oranges, and bananas spinning too fast for your eyes to perceive them, it’s dollars: Cha-ching, and the numbers whirl and whirl, and whirl.
In the forty-two years of the Drug War, we’ve – you, me, all the taxpayers alive and dead in those years – have spent, are you ready, $1012. Ten to the twelfth power; a one and twelve zeroes; $1 trillion. We’re at a number that when many of us were born, few had heard of it. And I don’t know what comes after a trillion.
The Twelfth Power Cartel
Forty-two years ago, on June 17, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon identified public enemy number one – drugs in the U.S. Hippies all over the place were smoking pot, tripping on acid, and dropping out; Viet Nam vets were coming home hooked on heroin; drugs were becoming easily accessible on college campuses. The drug culture had reached middle America, so Nixon announced a “new, all-out offensive.” Money would be no object. He added, “As far as the new money is concerned, incidentally, I have made it clear to the leaders that if this is not enough, if more can be used, if Dr. Jaffe, after studying this problem, finds that we can use more, more will be provided.” It began with $350 million.
The cry of “havoc” went up. Nixon’s “initiative” quickly became known as the War on Drugs, and the “dogs of war” were let loose. Just as chaos, murder, and devastation followed the dogs of war as Marc Anthony predicted in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, so they followed Nixon’s announcement of the War on Drugs. Despite all the war money, personnel, weapons, and tactics – some wacky to the extreme -- drugs and the War on Drugs are ravaging the United States. However well intentioned, the War on Drugs has turned into a “foul deed.”
At this point, the War on Drugs begs the question: Who in their right mind wants to continue this craziness?
Good question, right?
The fact is that this war has become so costly, so entangled with special interests, other governments, politics, policies, so mired in corruption, money, murders, horror stories, and maybe most of all DENIAL, that getting out of this war makes getting out of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars look like a picnic. The Drug War problems have transformed into the very thing they have meant to solve by gobbling up everything in sight and turning into a behemoth cartel of its own.
Where would we start?
First, let’s start with the truth, which is the only real weapon anyone has to fight denial.
Americans make up the highest number of users of illegal drugs in the world. Yep, us. It’s a hard fact to face, but it’s true. So when we see images of or hear about South Americans growing cocoa plants or the Afghan drug lords growing poppies, we have to say, “They are doing it for the American market.”
Yet we have financed policies of the U.S. military and other forces flying in to these countries in black choppers to napalm the plants. THE PLANTS!
Yet when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to Mexico in spring 2009 to try to patch up U.S.-Mexican relations and she copped to the U.S. role in engorging the drug violence in Mexico, we react as if she chopped up the U.S. into pieces and gave away the pieces to the world’s most gruesome dictators. What she said is TRUE.
So now we have looked into the faces of the enemy and saw him and her staring back at us from our own mirrors – a difficult fact to face.
Note: More on the War on Drugs will follow. I hope you will stick with me if for no other reason than you, I, we have spent and are spending a TON OF MONEY on this failed war.