We're Winning the Drug War - If We Say So

We're Winning the Drug War - If We Say So
Posted by FoM on June 17, 2000 at 08:22:21 PT
Guest Columns
Source: Times-Herald
Surely Barry McCaffrey doesn't believe his own rhetoric in "Fighting the drug problem" (June 11). Only blind faith, ignorance or far darker reasons would allow such an abysmal failure as the drug war to continue.The "signature program" that he so openly refers to was a blatant attempt by McCaffrey and his staff to secretly manipulate the media. 
Each week his staff writes opinion pieces for the world's newspapers, to which McCaffrey signs his name. Somehow, in their minds anyway, this lends credibility to their blather. His office hustles their work to the editorial staffs of the Hong Kong Standard, the Duluth News Tribune, the Arizona Daily Star, and yes, the Vallejo Times-Herald, to name but a few, and then the advertisement/editorials are printed on opinion pages around the world. Each one seems to be written to fit the current mood of the paper's editorial staff. Had your current stance been more "drug war friendly," you would have received the "tough on drugs" version. In it, you would have read of the billions of taxpayers' dollars and thousands of American soldiers McCaffrey must have to continue the Colombian drug war, deep in the heart of the mountainous jungles of the Andes, where FARC, narco-terrorists, drug lords, and those pesky drug cartels abound. If the world's citizens will only infuse literally billions of taxpayers' dollars, posthaste, into this decades old civil war, we might yet destroy Colombia to save her. If only the Times-Herald would have been a little more "drug war friendly" we could have read about the "meth epidemic" currently sweeping our land. You might have read how your state has placed in the "Top 3" in the "meth epidemic" lottery. Although the "Top 3" already includes at least 10 states, you would vie for the prize; after all, it's only smoke, mirrors and drug war propaganda. Who cares, right? If your state would have been lucky enough to find a place in the "Top 3," your elected officials and anti-drug acronyms would be encouraged to apply for the millions of taxpayers' dollars, distributed as grants. Rewards for the faithful. These awards could then be used, by the lucky recipients, to rid your streets of those "meth-crazed" addicts you see everywhere. You could use your prize to prevent those "meth lab" explosions and resulting firestorms that occur in your community almost daily. Never mind that no one, outside of the "drug war" establishment, has ever actually witnessed such a thing, you could use those millions to fight this illusion. You could cut them if they stand and shoot them if they run, you could kill them with your bibles, your razors and your guns, a la Steppenwolf, and if that didn't work, there's always millions more in the treasury to fight this apocalyptic fantasy. But, we will win. That's the magic of America's current drug policy. Since the drug war establishment has never achieved a single victory while fighting the old standbys, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, they're now creating mirages, such as the "meth epidemic," and since only one side keeps score in this war of apparitions, they will be victorious. It's inevitable. But, you can bet on this, when they've ridden this nag called the "meth epidemic" to the ground, another drug scourge will rise to take its rightful place and it appears that ecstasy's star is on the rise. It's all smoke and mirrors and the nation's media has repeatedly been duped by the drug war establishment. Another typical day in the "drug war" where only blind faith will see us through. Proceeding with our eyes wide shut - a very bad, bad thing. Mike Plylar Kremmling, Colo. Tony M. Goins, June 18: Questions for McCaffrey:One sentence in the recent editorial by the Drug Czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, leapt out at me. He said: "The so-called 'war on drugs' is a poor metaphor because it creates an expectation of speedy victory." I find it ironic that the very same people who first coined the war metaphor as a means of declaring those who use illegal drugs the enemy are now running away from it as fast as they can. Having spent his entire adult life in this country's military, Gen. McCaffrey knows that, when it comes to war, the American people demand results. He now prefers the "cancer metaphor." Very well. Many people have suggested that a cure for cancer would have been found years ago if there were as much profit in curing the disease as there is in long-term treatment of it. I suspect the same is true for illegal drug abuse. I do wish, at some point, some intrepid journalist would ask Gen. McCaffrey why, if we are not involved in a "war on drugs," we have a general in charge of our drug policy? Or, what conditions will have to exist for the ONDCP's budget to remain the same (or even decrease) instead of climbing precipitously every year? Tony M. Goins Oklahoma City, OK Ray Aldridge, June 18: The Drug Wars:I see you've published one of Drug Czar Barry R. McCaffrey's latest defenses of the drug war status quo. Making fun of the general's increasingly desperate rhetoric isn't exactly a tough job - it's on a par with dynamiting fish in a barrel. But his foolish and destructive assertions should not be allowed to pass unchallenged.He said: "The so-called 'war on drugs' is a poor metaphor because it creates an expectation of speedy victory. The metaphor of 'cancer' is more appropriate. Like education, efforts against drug abuse must be ongoing in every generation. By way of example, we don't close schools - claiming we lost the 'war on ignorance' - because history, science, and math must be taught year after year." Hey, as long as we're flinging goofy metaphors about, why don't we fight the "war on ignorance" by throwing ignorant folks in jail, the way we fight the "war on drugs" by throwing drug users in jail? Speaking of ignorance, the general goes on to say: "Illegal drugs cost our society 52,000 dead and $110 billion a year." Where in the world does he get these figures? Apparently, he just makes them up. He must have a vivid imagination indeed if he can claim with a straight face that "Our country's anti-drug efforts have been quite successful." Right. Heroin deaths are at an all-time high, heroin and cocaine are cheaper and more potent than ever before, every year seems to bring us a new drug epidemic (this year it's methamphetamine and ecstasy) and federal spending on the drug war is approaching 20 billion dollars. We have a far greater percentage of our citizens in jail than any other developed nation, and drug-related corruption has infected most of our institutions. The Constitution is being gutted to facilitate the war on drugs, and there's no end in sight. Let's revisit the general's new favorite metaphor: drug abuse as a social cancer. How many of us believe that the way to cure cancer is to throw the sufferers in prison? Ray Aldridge Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. Barry R. McCaffrey, June 11: Fighting The Drug Problem:Our country's anti-drug efforts have been quite successful. Over the past two decades, casual drug use dropped by half. Cocaine use plummeted 75 percent since 1985. Sixty-one million citizens who once used illegal drugs have rejected them. Unfortunately, 5 million Americans, from a U.S. population of 270 million, are chronically addicted.The drug problem is multifaceted and requires a systemic, comprehensive solution. Our strategy includes prevention and treatment plus interdiction and law enforcement. We can make headway against this difficult problem by adopting a long-range approach. The 2000 Annual Report for the National Drug Control Strategy emphasizes a 10-year outlook supported by annually updated five-year budgets. The Strategy aims to reduce drug-use rates by 50 percent in the coming decade - to the lowest levels in 30 years. The Strategy defines reduction in demand as the main focus. Prevention of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use among sixty-eight million youngsters is our most important goal. The Strategy recognizes that no single approach can solve this problem. Rather, drug prevention, education, and treatment must be complemented by supply-reduction abroad, interdiction on the borders, and strong law enforcement within the United States. The Strategy ties public policy to a scientific, research-based body of knowledge. A performance measurement system allows for periodic review and adjustment as conditions change. Our signature program is an unprecedented, five-year, billion-dollar anti-drug media campaign. This initiative is necessary because even though overall drug use has declined, teenage use rose precipitously in the early '90s. Eighth-grade use, for example, nearly tripled between 1992 and 1996. Because mass media acts like a "proxy-peer" to kids, defining culture by identifying what's "cool" and what's not, a broad-based anti-drug campaign counteracts pro-drug messages youngsters receive from many sources. A minimum of four anti-drug ads a week reaching 90 percent of the target audience (mostly children but also parents, youth leaders, coaches, and other adults who work with young people) is changing attitudes and behavior. Accordingly, drug use among adolescents decreased 13 percent from 1997 to 1998. We have begun to shift federal spending in support of the five goals of the national strategy (which can be viewed at Resources for prevention increased 52 percent since 1996, and treatment rose 32 percent. Drug courts channel nonviolent drug-law offenders into tough, supervised treatment instead of prison. The first drug court was established in 1989. Now, more than seven hundred drug courts are in operation or under development. Nevertheless, drug treatment is still unavailable for too many desperate Americans. The problem of drug abuse, like illness or warfare, won't go away in the foreseeable future. The so-called "war on drugs" is a poor metaphor because it creates an expectation of speedy victory. The metaphor of "cancer" is more appropriate. Like education, efforts against drug abuse must be ongoing in every generation. By way of example, we don't close schools - claiming we lost the "war on ignorance" - because history, science, and math must be taught year after year. Illegal drugs cost our society 52,000 dead and $110 billion a year. We will only make progress against this threat through mutually supportive public-health and law-enforcement policies based on a strong dose of prevention. Vallejo has been recognized around the country as a model community because of 10 years of initiatives targeting substance abuse. Well-deserved praise has been offered for the Vallejo Fighting Back Partnership. Your community received grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, and ONDCP's Drug-Free Communities Program, among others. Your strategic plan with measurable outcomes is exemplary. We have come here to support the work of Mayor Anthony Intintoli, Congressman George Miller and his field representative Kathy Hoffman - who is also president of the board of directors of VFBP - VFBP Executive Director Jane Callahan, Chairman of VFBP's Community Council John Ramos, Coordinator of the Safe and Drug-Free School program Jewel Fink, and countless others who are participating in this valiant effort to reduce drug abuse. We are proud of Vallejo's dedication to prevention, treatment, and supply reduction. Barry R. McCaffrey Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy My Turn... Guest Columns June 18, 2000 Copyright 1998, Times-Herald.Related Articles:Report Targets Drug Office Under Fire McCaffrey Archives:
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 17, 2000 at 10:36:39 PT
Thank You Richard
Hello Richard,I agree Mike is doing an excellent job of hawking and letter writing. I've watched him mature under the guidance of you and others at MapInc. and that is a great sign of success in my book. When an organization can teach, guide, forgive, help and comfort people they are winners. I bookmarked the page have wanted to have information like this from you condensed and now I do! Thanks, Martha
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Comment #1 posted by Richard Lake on June 17, 2000 at 10:10:36 PT:
Way to Go, Mike!
Our OPED author Mike Plylar is none other than MAP Newshawk and published LTE writer also known as Sledhead. You can read about him at: Beck wrote the following about Mike's success:Through my own reading and my association with MAP, I've been exposed to many outstanding writers of books, columns, and letters-to-the-editor. My admiration for someone who artfully and effectively states the reformer view is boundless.The item is such an outstanding example of persuasive writing, in my opinion, it warranted a separate posting to these lists. It's the kind of effort to which I hope all will aspire. There are two other reform OPEDs in the same edition of the paper. All can be found soon in the MAP archive and mailing list content.Regards, don 
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