Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2011 Source: Free Lance-Star, The (VA) Copyright: 2011 The Free Lance-Star Contact: http://fredericksburg.com/flshome Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1065 Author: Donnie Johnson IS IT TIME FOR A TRUCE IN WAR ON DRUGS? 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 "Absolutely!" Really? Are they against penicillin, statins, aspirin, milk of magnesia? "Well, of course not! I'm against those bad drugs like cocaine and marijuana." "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 it. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.