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Drug Warriors Just Don't Get It


U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commanding general of the U.S. Southern Command, just doesn’t get it. Testifying before Congress, he lamented the movement toward legalizing drugs here in the United States. He suggested that Latin American officials, who have long been exhorted to fight the war on drugs, are losing faith in the United States and are viewing Americans as hypocrites. He also asserted, “The levels of violence that our drug problem has caused in many of these countries is just astronomical.”

Kelly is certainly right about the widespread violence in Latin America. Where he misses the boat, however, is his belief that the violence is due to drugs. It isn’t. The violence is due to thewar on drugs, not drugs themselves.

That’s obviously a critically important difference. It’s akin to going to a doctor with an ailment. The prescription that the doctor gives is obviously going to turn on his diagnosis. If he gets the diagnosis wrong, it’s a virtual certainty that he’s going to get the prescription wrong.
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