Supporting One Lost War is Not Enough for John McCain

Note: DRCNet does not take a position on the war in Iraq. I do. Arizona Senator John McCain, one of the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, has suffered mightily for his continuing support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. That stance, I predict, will be a major contributor to his eventual failure to win the nomination. But over the weekend, McCain embraced yet another loser of a war--the war on drugs. Here's how the Associated Press reported his remarks in Iowa Sunday:
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Sunday said the U.S. should step up its war on drugs as part of efforts to secure the country's borders. He said that's because Americans are to blame for "creating the demand" for illegal drugs that come into the country and give too much power to drug cartels that terrorize border areas. "We are creating the demand. We are creating the demand for these drugs coming across our border, which maybe means that we should go back more trying to make some progress and in telling Americans, particularly young Americans, that the use of drugs is a terrible thing for them to do," he said. The Arizona senator spoke during an appearance at a central Iowa farm where he devoted much of the conversation with a few dozen supporters to foreign relations and immigration.
Does John McCain really believe all our war on drugs needs is a little more effort (and, of course, a little more funding)? Does he think we (read: law enforcement) haven't been trying? I don't think so. McCain is from a border state; he should know better. While McCain spoke about demand reduction, it is unclear exactly what he means. If he's talking about prevention education, that's not a bad thing. But if he's talking about reducing demand by increasing already draconian penalties for drug offenders that's an entirely different matter. McCain's campaign web site does not mention drug policy, but he has consistently favored a tough law enforcement approach to the problem. This year, he wrapped his remarks about ramping up the war on drugs in the broader context of border security. But if McCain is concerned about the impact of the cross-national black market drug trade on border security, there is a real solution: end drug prohibition, regulate the cross-border drug trade like other commodities are regulated, and cut the legs out from under the violent cartels who grow more wealthy and powerful every day under prohibition. Instead, McCain, who made his political career on one lost war in Southeast Asia and stands to end it by supporting another one in the Middle East, embraces yet another lost war in a cheap bid to gain support. Let's hope appealing for an ever-expanding, ever-deepening war on drugs is an issue whose time, like McCain's, has come and gone.
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McCain's Position

What about the immigration bill? McCain lost most of his support in the GOP by helping author the McCain-Kennedy Bill, which provided amnesty to illegals. Of course, that is simply my opinion as to what is and what is not amnesty, but many other republican voters thought the same. He then realized what a mistake that was, and, when all else fails, enter the war on drugs. That is still a policy that about 99% of the republicans support. It is a cheap way to earn votes.

One Trillion Dollars

Since the inception of "The War on Drugs" the government has spent over one trillion dollars to control, confine, repress and to a much lesser extent, educate our society on the issue of so called "illicit" drugs. What has that $1,000,000,000,000 bought? Not a damned thing aside from making America the most imprisoned nation per capita in the world. I would hardly call that cheap.

I realize this...

Believe me, I know full well how expensive the war on drugs is. (See the Drug War Clock @ You may have misinterpreted my comment. It is a cheap way to earn votes because all a politician has to do is mention how much drugs are destroying our society, that we need to fight drug dealers, and the obligatory "I will get tough on crime" speech, and presto, he wins votes because the constituency does not know any better. Not a great deal of money has to be spent by the campaign to do this. It is a great strategy for a struggling politician. We are experiencing the same thing in Birmingham's mayoral race as we speak.

McCain's Position

There's an easy litmus test to determine McCain's intentions: ask him if he distinguishes between BUYING drugs and growing your own.

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