Recent comments by prominent columnists such as George Will and by other individuals in public life have emphasized the need for clearer (and more immediate) “exit strategies” for the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let us also place an equal priority on developing an effective exit strategy promptly for our third pointless (and exhorbitantly expensive, in terms of life and treasure) current major war: the government’s “War on Drugs”! In all three of these ongoing wars, the nation’s youth and those of other (“allied”) countries, as well as hundreds of billions of our tax dollars are literally being thrown to the wind! It is incontrovertible too that huge profits are being made by entrepreneurs from all three conflicts, whether they be security and defense contractors, arms traders, or (in our Drug War activities) prison builders and operators, police and military enforcers, transnational drug syndicates and street drug operatives, and tens of thousands of others who continue to exploit the drug war to their own advantage. Meanwhile, generations of our young people who are heavily weighted demographically toward nonwhites and the poor, are being locked up and (when eventually released) rendered unemployable as “felons,” their offspring and families decimated, with our own society and those of our country’s neighbors thrown increasingly into disarray!
Is this what our founding fathers envisioned for America? Are the hundreds of billions of dollars and the degradation of hundreds of thousands of people (and their families) who are being hurt and killed by these conflicts “worth it” to our nation? How DO we exit these wars as quickly and in as orderly a fashion as possible, and then redirect the enormous ssvings that will be realized thereby to improve our lives and those of our children and grandchildren, not to mention our neighbors across the planet ?
Can you imagine how the people and the billions in resources that can be saved by ending 3 wasteful wars can be put to work over the next 10 years to bring affordable health care to all of our nation’s citizens? (!), to educate our children, to save precious energy and reduce global pollution, to fight AIDS, and to pay-down our debts ?? Does “democracy- building” in strange lands among hostile and resentful populations justify our putting all (or any) of these critical national priorities off, and leaving the solutions to our progeny? I think not, and if told the truth directly and led effectively, I am confident that the majority of Americans will agree!-Richard J. Steckel, M.D.