How do you end America’s longest war that is an abject failure? No, not Afghanistan. This month marks the 40th anniversary of the day Richard Nixon launched the “War on Drugs.” And now, four decades later, it would be impossible to invent a more complete failure.
About $1 trillion has been spent on the war. Millions of citizens who pose no threat to anyone have been incarcerated in prison. Some 2.3 million now overcrowd America’s prisons — 25 percent of whom have been arrested for nonviolent drug crimes.
Our neighbors to the south — Mexico and Colombia — are being torn about by gang violence and corruption. In Afghanistan, where our soldiers risk their lives, fully one-third to one-half of the entire economy is generated by the opium and heroin trade. All of this is in reaction to nonviolent acts that were not even crimes a century ago.
Yet despite this, drugs are just as available and cheaper than they were 40 years ago. As the U.S. drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, concluded: “In the grand scheme, it has not been successful. Forty years later, the concern about drugs and the drug problem is, if anything, magnified, intensified.”