By Randolph Brandt
I can understand a war for oil.
Great powers have been fighting wars for oil for more than a century.
Britain saw the need to occupy the Middle East to control oil supplies. The Japanese went to war over access to oil for its navy. Hitler was defeated when he lost his access to oil, and the Panzer armies ground to a halt in the Bulge. One of our greatest Racine heroes -- Medal of Honor winner Maj. John Jerstad -- died to cut off the oil supplies to the Germans from the Ploesti oil fields.
The United States needs free and unfettered access to the world’s oil if it’s going to maintain an effective defense and continue to grow the greatest economy in the world.
This has always been important; so important that, yes, it’s even worth fighting and dying for.
But going to war over opium isn’t worth dying for, nor is it worth placing our country at continued dire threat from well-armed, well-financed terrorists like Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Yet, we’re risking 15,000 troops to take over Marja, one of the highest-yield opium regions of Afghanistan, to wipe out a crop that pays for Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorism worldwide.
The life of one American soldier in Afghanistan isn’t worth the life of a single drug addict here in the United States.
That’s asking too much. It no longer makes sense to try and save these dopers from themselves, not when it’s costing the lives of our brave soldiers.
Nor is it worth it anymore to try to save a bunch of loopy marijuana smokers in California (and elsewhere) from themselves.
It’s destabilized the entire government of Mexico, caused the mistaken mass murders of a score of innocent students at a school party, and now it’s forcing thousands more Mexicans across our borders to seek asylum in the United States, ostensibly for their for safety from the drug cartels.
So, how we can eliminate worldwide terrorism, restore law and order in Mexico, secure our borders against thousands more illegal immigrants, prevent the vast majority of violent crimes and property thefts in the United States, end prison overcrowding, pay for health care for a generation, and settle our national debt, all at the same time?
We can legalize drugs, and then tax them.
I, frankly, don’t care if somebody wants to get stoned on heroin or get a buzz off marijuana, so long as they don’t hold me up on the street to steal my wallet to pay for it (or break into my house, or rob a bank, or murder police officers or finance international terrorism … and on ad, infinitum).
I certainly don’t want the inflated profits from the drug trade paying for terrorists who attack our cities, or for weapons of mass destruction to be used against us.
Once we legalized drugs, we’d cut off the billions (probably more like trillions) of dollars that fuel these deadly pursuits that endanger us all every day, worldwide.
Someone’s personal drug habit would then be cheap, like, $5 a day, instead of $500 a day, so people who use drugs would only be hurting themselves, not you and me anymore.
And one more rule: as with cigarettes and alcohol, they couldn’t sell it to kids, as they do now, with impunity.
Voilà! Organized crime would be out of business, Al Qaeda would be out of business, the Taliban would be out of business, and your neighborhood armed robber and burglar would be out of business, too.
And, really, at what cost to society? Probably not much. Certainly not as much as it costs us to fight the War on Terror, keep an additional million non-violent offenders locked up in prison, or the $100 billion-plus we now expend each year on the War on Drugs, along with destabilizing a multitude of other countries worldwide.
I’m pretty sure Mexico and Afghanistan, among others, would thank us.
Face it, if some people want to spend their days in a stupor, what’s it to you and me, so long as they’re paying, say, a 20 percent tax on their pack of joints or their heroin fix?
That’s their problem.
And it would no longer be ours.
Randolph D. Brandt is the retired editor of the Racine Journal Times.