Drugs… Terrorism… WAR

A recent exchange in comments got me thinking about the drugs and terrorism connection again. You know, the one you keep hearing about from public officials.

Of course, drugs and terrorism really have nothing in common.

  • Drugs are designed to be part of a peaceful exchange between willing participants for private use.
  • Terrorism is designed to be a violent action imposed on innocent victims for political gain.

On the other hand, the drug war and the war on terrorism have a lot in common.

  • Both are structured so as to preclude an end to the war. They’re designed not to win, but to last forever.
  • Both provide for the development of lucrative government structures that benefit from the war.
  • In both cases, the war actually benefits the supposed enemy.
  • In both cases, the entity declaring war actually creates and nurtures additional enemy soldiers. (In the drug war, arresting one dealer creates a job opening to bring in a new one. In the terrorism war, violent responses by us (such as bombings, torture and killings) actually work to recruit new terrorists.)
  • Both wars depend on fear — not making the enemy afraid, but making their own people afraid.
  • Both are tools for the government to convince the people to give up more of their rights, and give government more power over them.

I think that most informed drug policy reformers are likely to also oppose the war on terror, particularly as it is being conducted today. Just like the fact that we’re able to see the similarities between today’s prohibition and alcohol prohibition, we can see the dangerous similarities between the war on drugs and the war on terror.

We’ve watched for years as the government has said that they need to have more powers to fight the war on terror and use the powers that they’ve already stolen to fight the war on drugs as an excuse to grab even more power. Then later, we find that 90% of the use of the new anti-terrorism powers have been in the war on drugs. Each feeds the other, and the promotion of fear (of drugs, of street gangs, of underpants bombers) helps convince the people to shred the foundations of their freedom… in exchange for… nothing. Less than nothing.

It’s not that we support terrorism — quite the opposite. It’s that, just like with the drug cartels, we find that the war, the blunt instrument, and vastly increased government power, are not the right tools to use.

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33 Responses to Drugs… Terrorism… WAR

  1. DavesNotHere says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you Pete. I’m up for a new round of anti-war protests. ALL wars.

    Why not? Why not you? Pick out a date and be the first, and they will come.

    Can we get the anti-war crowd out again? While making it clear we also are protesting the drug war, that is contributing heavily to the terrorism war? We kill a low level terrorist and they just use their poppy money to hire another one. That is how they’ve been able to keep fighting us for 8 years, and will for the next 8 years if we stay there; drug money.

    Ron Paul won the CPAC poll. Anti-war, anti drug war, Ron Paul. Let it be a sign our youth has some hope, even “right-wingnut” conservatives. There is a libertarian awakening in this country. They will come if they are welcomed instead of called names. Probably even get a bunch of teabaggers to show up also. The don’t want to pay for it.

    A 4-20 Anti War – Anti Prohibition Protest and March. If I had a million dollars.

  2. Shap says:

    This most recent military operation in Afghanistan, unfortunately U.S. troops dying just to enforce Afghanistan’s drug war, what a waste.

  3. ezrydn says:

    They’ll go after the profit industry of the Taliban but will leave the cartels untouched. They’re still using the “take and leave” Vietnam strategy, which didn’t work!

    A friend of mine wrote me yesterday and made an interesting comment. He said “You know what we’ll have to see before we see an end to the Drug War? TERM LIMITS!” He has a point. Too much free money floating around to leave the job.

  4. Stephen Young says:

    Anybody hear the song that came out last year by Ike Reilly called “The War on the Terror and Drugs”? I’ve heard it WXRT in Chicago a few times. As I understood the lyrics, it’s not really a protest song or anything like that, it’s more of a humorous recollection of wild times with interesting characters.

    But, it leads me to believe that there are many more in American culture beyond us who see the alleged connection between terror and drugs as a sick joke.

  5. claygooding says:

    It is true that both wars have allowed the government to remove personal rights and privacy,and some of the crossover investigation procedures,coupled with search and seizure laws,are scary as hell. We are only a couple of steps from a totally police state.
    When they try to remove the guns from the public it will signal the end of our country as we know it,or perceive it to be.
    If anyone from the original 13 colonies came back now,they would be loading guns and stacking up supplies.

  6. BruceM says:

    We’re not good at repeating over and over again that drug prohibition – rather than drugs – funds terrorism and thus kills precious little blond, blue-eyed white children.

    I think our biggest problem is we see the anti-drug propaganda and we hate it, and thus we’ve become too adverse to using our own propaganda (even though our propaganda has the advantage of actually being supported by facts and logic). We’re like the Democrats with respect to the Republicans – we want to appease them and get along with them and settle on some middle ground. Hell 90% of people here agree with the anti-drug fascists on everything except pot, and even then they have no problem “regulating” marijuana just so long as they can get it.

    Freedom means children die. Freedom is worth dead children to me. What about you? Are you willing to come out and accept X number of dead children (yeah and I mean the cute plucky American ones, not the starving, smelly third world children covered with flies) in order to exercise your right? I am. But nearly all of you are not. As such, they win, and their “wars” will continue forever, just the way they want it.

  7. Shap says:

    If you wanna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs, even if that means cute cuddly baby eggs. The most effective argument/propaganda/talking point/sound bite that I have found for our side is that legalization puts drug cartels out of business and shuts them down completely. It is the only policy choice that does this considering that the War on Drugs hasn’t done anything but make cartel bosses into billionaires. The “secondary violence” is what pulls on people’s heartstrings, not these amorphous personal freedom and theoretical arguments.

  8. Hope says:

    BruceM. Sometimes I think you are one of those commenters the antis at the UN were talking about having infiltrate our reform sites and comment sections. It’s seems you like the idea of hardening the anti’s stance.

    As smart as you seem sometimes, a lot of the things you say, especially about children, seem like the kind of thing that could do our cause way more harm than good.

    More and more, I think you aren’t for ending the Drug War at all.

  9. Hope says:

    Children are people, too. You don’t seem to realize that.

    I very much want to save the children and people of all ages, and society in general, from the terror and disaster of the War on Drugs.

    You’re not helping, BruceM. You’re not helping at all.

  10. Hope says:

    Shap, we’re not making an omelet. This isn’t about cooking anything. Forget the eggs and the frying pan and the omelet pan.

    We’re trying to change a bad policy that is far too widely supported.

    Keep your focus.

  11. Hope says:


    Drug War Victims

    There’s children and babies on that page, too.

    The prohibitionists killed them, terrorized, tore up their families, ruined their futures, and maimed them.

    Get your head on straight!

  12. Hope says:


    I hate ignorance and foolishness. Even more so when it’s coming from people that are supposed to be on our side.

    • Pete says:

      Hope, he tends to be overly blunt, but I think in this case this is the point he was trying to make…

      — People tell us that we must give up our freedoms or baby children will die (terrorism, cartels, etc.)
      — However, giving up our freedom won’t stop that from happening (terrorists will still kill children, as will gangs/cartels)
      — In fact, giving up our freedom in order to perpetuate a war will cause more baby children to die (drug war victims, our bombings of civilians, etc.)
      — If we want to limit the number of baby children dying, then we have to stop wars, not encourage them

  13. Dante says:

    Dear Hope:

    Pardon the intrusion, but this must be said:

    Don’t let the turkeys keep you from soaring with the eagles.

  14. Hope says:

    Thank you, Dante.

    I’ve tried to understand where he’s coming from and what he’s saying, Pete. But too much obtuseness can be hard to see through and he’s got the obtuse bit down pat.

  15. claygooding says:

    We,most we,accept that the ONDCP is clawing for it’s 15 billion dollar budget,or the largest part of it,if marijuana should be legalized,or even removed from schedule 1. We need a solid group of doctors to now attack the scheduling of marijuana and the refusal,regardless of scientific evidence,by the ONDCP and the DEA and NIDA to remove marijuana from schedule 1.
    With the study now showing marijuana to be a safe and effective medicine,it should be up too doctors and patients as to the uses for and eligibility for,not politicians,bureaucrats and cops.
    If anyone knows a doctor well enough to speak with them about it,show them the study and let them talk to their fellow doctors about a class action suit or at the least a petition for the removal of marijuana as a schedule 1 drug.

  16. Nanook says:

    The drug war has made the gangs powerful. If the drugs were not illegal they couldn’t make any money off the sales and wouldn’t be able to buy guns and more drugs. Do they build an enemy up just to justify the salaries and costs? What a waste of dwindling resources. What someone wants to put in their body on their own time is their business. But we put up with urine screens and sobriety checkpoints and now look at the mess.

  17. Buc says:

    Hope & BruceM:

    While I certainly do think the sacrificing children part may be a bit over the top, I do agree with the notion that a great many of drug policy ‘reformers’ (including some commenters here, MPP, NORML and many of those that want to see reform to drug laws) could care less about any drug laws pertaining to any substance besides cannabis.

    Pain doctors, cocaine, the notion that the government being allowed to determine what you may or may not possess/sell, etc. be damned. As long as you can get a cut of cannabis every other day, they’d be thrilled, regardless of whether it’s taxed 500%, sold to those only 21+ YO or remains an arrestable offense for selling it.

    It kills me when I read the NORML comments section and occasionally see somebody ask, ‘Why doesn’t the DEA focus on the hard drugs?’ instead of asking the question, ‘Why does the DEA exist at all and when are they going to leave the peeps alone?’ The hypocrisy is very disappointing at times.

  18. Servetus says:

    Juxtaposing the terrorist statutes of the Patriot Act with the drug laws was always John P. Walters’ dream. It’s easy to see why. The laws are an authoritarian smorgasbord of tyranny.

    Already, as noted, the sneak and peek provision has been used to spy on drug suspects. In England, a drug suspect was tortured in a manner resembling waterboarding.

    Perhaps the greatest potential threat to freedom and free speech with regard to the drug war is the Material Support Law that bans aid to terrorist groups. The law is designed to reduce the flow of cash and weapons, as well as training, personnel, service, and expert advice or assistance to alleged terrorist groups.

    The law allows the executive branch unreviewable discretion in designating groups as terrorist. Should the law be applied to the drug war by some nutbag prohibitionist president, the stipulations are vague enough to be used to eliminate or curtail any blog site that pursues lawful, non-violent activities that promote peace and human rights, such as Drug WarRant.

    The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments challenging the Material Support Law starting today.

  19. Shap says:

    Haha Hope, I’ll preface this by saying that we all want the same thing, however if you don’t understand the saying, don’t comment about it. Has to do with the fact that legalizing drugs still has downsides, even if they are far fewer than the downsides of prohibition. Those fewer downsides will have to be tolerated, those are the broken eggs.

  20. Freedom says:

    BruceM: What the hell are you talking about! No No I get it, I just had to say that. Had to read your post…twice.LOL.

    Pete thanks for running with this one. I had made a post about this the other day. The two wars that shouldnt be separate but the powers in washington keep it that way, I feel , becuause it would further strengthen opposition to them. It seems to me our leaders love war . Much of it is due to the lust for power and money….humm the root of all evil is the lust for money? hummm….If we can find a way to reign in our out of control fear mongers/war mongers in governemt this world would be much better off . I want government as far out of our lives and as far out of war as we can get it. Its like a tick , the more it feeds the bigger it gets ,the deeper it digs eventually desease can set into the host…us. Time to put the flame to that tick. Billions upon billions spent on both wars every year. Billions and billions in “aid” to other countries that keep us tied to these places, they then suck off us as our leaders exercise their own agenda.And we cant pay our bill and get insurance or pay for kids college, no wonder why. Its all killing this country , if anyone has any doubts…you havent been paying attention. All of this for whos benefit? Doesnt seem to its ours. Lose of prosperity , loss of freedoms , the shredding of the constitution , loss of lives, ruining of families , loss of jobs , possiblility of loss of sovereity of our county for a one world government…ect ect,from both wars.

    These two wars alone have done more damage to this country ,IMHO, than all wars previously fought by it combined . Lets not kid our selves , these wars are one in the same for they have the same goals…the conquering of the American people by those lusting for power and money, and those people are not just limited to those who run this country, but those out side our country.

    February 23rd, 2010 at 10:27 am
    It is true that both wars have allowed the government to remove personal rights and privacy,and some of the crossover investigation procedures,coupled with search and seizure laws,are scary as hell. We are only a couple of steps from a totally police state.
    When they try to remove the guns from the public it will signal the end of our country as we know it,or perceive it to be.
    If anyone from the original 13 colonies came back now,they would be loading guns and stacking up supplies.

    Who says they arent trying to take away our guns and who says we arent loading up and stocking up. Have you seen the guns sales in this country? Have a look at efoods.com .

    Im all for some anti-war rallies geared toward all wars. They need to end so we can reclaim controll of OUR country , regining control of government will do just that. Lets do it before we need our guns and supplies.
    Violence and war only brings more of the same. It should always be a last resort.

  21. Freedom says:

    Freedom/Just me 😉

  22. Hope says:

    The “War” on all drug using people, and the substances they wish to use, of any kind, should end. As it is, the policies that we presently live under, are leading to everyone’s loss of freedom, users or not. As it is, it’s all truly destructive, dangerous, and completely unwise policy.

    People should be able to access as safe a product and use as possible and be left alone and if they need help, they should be able to find it without fear of prosecution.

    I just think it’s important that we, as the people trying to change other people’s attitudes and policy towards drug users present ourselves as sane, rational, intelligent, and caring.

    Making a big show of how asininely you can behave doesn’t accomplish anything good.

    Sorry about lashing out. We all need to be the best we can, in every way, especially what we say in public, if we’re going to win this. Presenting ourselves as supremely selfish, self centered, arrogant, and asinine isn’t going to further our cause with anyone.

    And that’s what we need to be doing… furthering our cause. Making a show of how completely thoughtless and selfish we can be isn’t going to be that helpful.

  23. kaptinemo says:

    Lest there be any doubt: I want to see all presently illegal drugs legalized (in most cases, it would be ‘legalized once more‘). All of them. No boltholes left behind for a cartel to service…or pols and their bureaucratic buddies to take advantage of.

    The fact is that very few people would want anything more than cannabis, but if they do, then it would be available under a regulation schema. And under such a schema it would be hard for The Sainted Children® to get their paws on it.

    Leave no rocks for the cartels to crawl under. (Re)Legalize and regulate….all of it.

  24. Hope says:

    Like Kaptinemo, I also wanted to make it clear where I stand on the matter and I too believe that outright prohibition of any consumable substance is a recipe for extra trouble. And it is insane to punish adults and prohibit adults from using substances like they’ve been doing to avert the possibility of a child using it. It’s very insulting to even imply that such laws are protecting children and it’s really stupid to think they will “protect” anyone at all. Warnings should suffice. If something is really destructive when overused or even once used… that will become obvious in and of itself and would definitely effect the popularity of said substance.

    Children shouldn’t play with matches and some have been hurt or killed because of fooling with them. But if they had made draconian laws about matches, I guarantee that more children would have had a deep desire to play with them than did.

    Children didn’t make these laws. They are not to blame. Foolish legislators made these laws. They ARE to blame.

  25. BruceM says:

    I never said we should “sacrifice” children. I’m not in support of chopping their heads off at the top of some altar. I’m merely pointing out that with freedom comes danger, and since all I ever hear about is “protecting the children” I’m not going to quabble about how dangerous this or that is, but rather just come out and say that it’s worth some kids dying to have our freedoms. Each and every freedom costs the lives of some children (and adults, but “the children” are all anyone ever talks about).

    You all agree with me, even if you refuse to admit it. I’ll prove it: There’s no arguing the fact that if we lowered all speed limits to 5mph on all roads we’d save the lives of thousands of children each year. Would you be willing to drive no faster than 5mph? No? Not even to save the lives of thousands of precious children?

    Right now, across america, there are probably a few dozen kidnapped children locked up in the basement sex-dungeons of some crazy pedophile rapists who will eventually be murdered (when they cease being “cute” and attractive to their pedophile captors). We could save those children’s lives by getting rid of the 4th Amendment and allowing the police to search all of our homes without the need for a warrant.

    So is it worth it? I say no. In a perfect world none of those children would be kidnapped and raped. But that’s not the world we live in. So given the (crappy but necessary) choice between having a few dozen children tortured, raped, and murdered or giving up my 4th Amendment rights, I’d rather have a few dozen children tortured, raped and murdered. Again, there’s no option 3, and I’m not happy that bad things are happening to those children. I don’t want it to happen. I have no vested interest in it happening.

    The fact that I’m accused of wanting it to happen merely because I’m not in favor of the alternative that would stop it is precisely the perverse logic used by the drug warriors. Since the people here can’t even understand basic logic and constantly fall for false dichotomies and straw men, there’s no nope for any of us.

    The right to free speech costs the lives of children. The right to due process costs the lives of children. The right to trial by jury costs the lives of children. The right against self-incrimination costs the lives of children. The right to privacy and security in one’s person, home, and things costs the lives of children. The mere privilege (it’s not even a right) to drive faster than 5mph costs the lives of a crapload of children.

    I’d rather have the dead children than have any of those rights (or privileges) taken away. That doesn’t mean I “want” children to die or that I’m happy about it. It’s the cost of freedom. Freedom means some children are going to be raped and tortured in a fat, hairy pedophile’s sex dungeon and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That’s just one of many costs of freedom. Either deal with it or just come out and concede that you don’t want freedom. You surely wouldn’t be the first person to say freedom isn’t worth it. These days most people don’t think freedom is worth it.

  26. Hope says:


    Would that our legislators had enough sense to transfer the money spent on drug prohibition to supporting the sort of police/detective work that finds murderers, thieves, rapists and seriously dangerous people.

    Truly, some people need to be hunted down, captured,, and confined so as to protect other people.

    People whose only “crime” is selling, growing, purchasing, using, or smuggling drugs do not need to be hunted down and imprisoned.

    That’s just a fact.

    Since the War on Drugs started, people snared in the justice system and in prisons has risen dramatically.

    At the exact same time, murders, assaults, arson, rapes, and theft crimes have seen a dramatic decline in their being “Solved”.

  27. Hope says:

    “Since the War on Drugs started, people snared in the justice system and in prisons has risen dramatically.”

    Grammar policing myself… that probably should read “… have risen dramatically.”

  28. Hope says:

    Aaargh. Maybe I should have said “The number of people…”.

    Maybe I should proofread.


  29. Just me says:

    Heres a little story over at CCM . If our government does things like this with alcohol and cannabis..makes one wonder what else they do.


    Dont sweat it Hope , I do that all the time.

  30. BruceM says:

    Hope: I agree 100% with every word you just said.

    Police are lazy though, and to “solve” a crime requires work, time, investigation, intelligence, cleverness, manpower, and money. That’s because they can’t just go knocking down every door without any reason, searching every house looking for crimes (even kidnapped children locked in rape dungeons).

    I’d love for every dollar spend “fighting” drugs to be spent looking for missing/kidnapped children instead. But i’m not willing to give the police the right to knock down my door without a warrant and probable cause.

    If you support the 4th Amendment, you do so at the expense of the children being raped in underground, soundproof sex dungeons by crazed pedophiles. But that’s okay. And that’s my point. I just don’t have a problem being blunt about how I value my rights even in the face of the high costs of those rights.

    If the police have probable cause that someone has a child locked in a rape dungeon in their house, by all means I want the police to get a warrant and go save the child and arrest the kidnapper-rapist.

  31. Hope says:

    Just me. That “Chemist’s War” is very interesting and frightening. I’ve always worried about something like that happening in this prohibition. I remember paraquat.

    I’m also sure that there are plenty of “good” people (yeah… right) that would be all for poisoning drugs that people might take.

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