Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2011
Source: Free Lance-Star, The (VA)
Copyright: 2011 The Free Lance-Star
Author: Donnie Johnson


LET'S WAX philo-sophical. Should those who kill and maim in wars be
prosecuted for murder or attempted murder? After all, they are killing
or trying to kill other people.

The conventional answer, of course, would be: "Absolutely not! When
war is declared, there is no penalty for killing or maiming in battle."

But what if people are engaged in an undeclared war? Remember that the
Vietnam conflict was never a declared war. The fighting in Libya is
not a declared war.

Well, of course not. Declared or undeclared, they are wars, and people
kill other people in wars. That's the rule, and it's OK.

So we've laid it out. If there is a war--declared or undeclared--it is
permissible for men (or women) to kill members of the opposing force
in battle.

And "in battle" means that those on both sides have weapons. As long
as the opposing forces are armed, there is no penalty, right?

OK, what about the war on drugs? That's a declared war. In fact, it is
a war that has been re-declared dozens of times. If both sides are
armed, is it murder if combating forces shoot each other?

Here the lines of war become blurred. One response would be, "Well,
the war on drugs is not really a war; it is just the enforcement of
U.S. law and involves only American citizens."

Not so fast, friends. What about all the shooting in killing in
Colombia and Mexico? What about the poppy fields of Afghanistan? That
seems pretty international to me.

And when you come right down to it, all wars are fought because one
side or the other tries to usurp the law.

So, by conventional standards, should those who kill and maim in the
war on drugs be called criminals and prosecuted, or soldiers and
honored for gallantry? I don't have the answer.

Now, I am not in favor of illegal drugs. I have never used them, and I
don't support those who do.

But when we make broad, sweeping statements like "We're fighting a war
on drugs, drug dealers and drug users," then we're muddying up the
philosophical stream.

It is one thing if we are enforcing the drug laws. It is quite another
if we are fighting a war. The rules are different in wars;
participants on both sides can kill and maim without penalty.

When it comes to the drug war, people get all excited. Ask 100 people
"Are you against drugs?" and at least 99 will reply

Really? Are they against penicillin, statins, aspirin, milk of

"Well, of course not! I'm against those bad drugs like cocaine and

"Well, that's not what I asked. I asked if you were against drugs, and
you said yes."

So we're against drugs, but not all drugs. And we have declared war on
drugs, but the rules for that conflict are not the same as the rules
for all other wars.

It's kind of confusing, isn't it?

Still we keep fighting--and have been for about 50 years now. And
victory seems to get further and further away.

As in Vietnam--where America's drug culture really took off--it
appears that failure may be our only option.

But take heart! Had Prohibition not been repealed, we would still be
fighting the war on alcohol.

We won that war--ironically enough, by giving up. Think about
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.