The war on drugs in the US has been raging for several decades (Frontline). Similarly, the war on terror was proclaimed at the beginning of this century (Brookings). However, the US seems to be losing both of them (Brookings; Foreign Affairs; Stanford). The outcomes of the war on terror include discrimination and violence in America, as well as other parts of the world (Brookings; Corrie 608-610). The results of the war on drugs also involve bloodshed in the US and other countries, including, for example, Mexico, and very little progress in reducing the use of drugs has been made (Frontline). These facts can appear surprising, but one of the potential explanations is that the two wars pursue incorrect targets and goals (Brookings). In particular, their objective may have never been a safer and healthier America.
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The term “war” implies the possibility of victory. However, both wars do not involve battlefields or a specific, concrete enemy (Brookings). As a result, determining their goals may be difficult. However, it is possible to analyze the two wars for potential reasons. For instance, the logical explanation for the war on drugs would consist of a healthier America. However, as pointed out by Kurt Vonnegut, the war on drugs does not involve the ban on alcohol, which is the most dangerous substance (620). Similarly, nicotine, which is extremely unhealthy, is not outlawed. If the war is guided by the idea of improving the well-being of the people, it seems to overlook major issues. While the cause of this blind spot cannot be identified for sure, it should be mentioned that alcohol and nicotine are profitable.
A similar problem can be encountered when analyzing the war on terror. Terrorism is a global issue, and while the US may achieve some outcomes in combating it in one country, it can flourish in another part of the world, endangering the Americans (Foreign Affairs). Furthermore, the tools that have been employed by the war are questionable. Zinn and Arnove highlight the fact that attacking Afghanistan or Iraq in the wake of September 11 made little sense. The majority of the terrorists who attacked the twin towers were from Saudi Arabia, and there was no direct evidence that would suggest that the governments of Afghanistan or Iraq had anything to do with the attack (Zinn and Arnove 603). It appears that the reasons for the major operations of the war on terror might not have been connected to combating terrorism.
Many of the people who lost their people to the tragedy believed that the actions of the government after the attack of September 11 aimed for vengeance (Rodriguez and Rodriguez 603). They also warned that the objective would not bring peace; rather, it would produce more violence. However, other ideas were also voiced. For instance, Rachel Corrie’s letter noted the economic potential of attacking other countries, using subtle puns in Arabic (609). Kurt Vonnegut directly cited the addiction to “fossil fuels” as the reason for the war on terror, which he described as consisting of “violent crimes” (622). Corrie’s letter can help to illustrate those crimes; it is undeniable that the war on terror caused a lot of grief outside of the US. As a result, the people of the US have a reason to doubt that the war on terror is concerned with the safety of the world or even the safety of the American people.
Thus, some evidence indicates that the wars on drugs and terror may not be effective specifically because they were not meant to achieve the outcomes that would be expected to be associated with them. If the goal was never the safety or health of the American people, it is not surprising that drugs remain legal during the war on drugs, and violence remains acceptable during the war on terror. The objective which was never set cannot be attained, and the two wars have failed to make America and the world healthier or safer.
The American Promise
The American Promise was established in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, and it is associated with democracy and equality (Zinn and Arnove 389). However, the journey towards the two values has been difficult, and it appears that it has not been finished yet. A few relatively recent political events can be used to illustrate this point and show that the US needs to remove the barriers to democracy and equality before the country can enjoy them.
Some of the recent instances that are relevant to the topic are the issues associated with George W. Bush. Moore points out that equal opportunity in the US can be thwarted by a particularly famous name and uses the example of George W. Bush who was able to enter Yale and Harvard with rather low scores (Moore 601). This issue directly demonstrates the fact that equal opportunities do not apply to the cases of very powerful people. It is also indicative of corruption, which may directly prevent America from enjoying equality.
The same political figure can be used to illustrate the problems with the voting system of the US. As pointed out by Zinn and Arnove, George W. Bush was installed as the president despite not winning the elections of 2000, which demonstrates that power can get in the way of democracy (599). Additionally, the authors highlight the fact the voting system in the country has been dominated by two parties. The problems with the representation of varied groups seem to endanger the democracy of the US.
Finally, the war on terror is another example relevant to the topic. Zinn and Arnove point out that while the lack of discrimination was proclaimed at the time, the USA PATRIOT Act targeted people of color (605). Maulik highlights the negative outcomes of September 11, focusing on the interpersonal racism and reporting the violence that Muslim people were subjected to in the aftermaths of the attack (606). Additionally, the author describes the Act as a way to institutionalize the anti-immigrant attitudes, pointing out that it has led to profiling. The fact that inequality and discrimination could flourish under the pretense of state security shows that civil rights in the US may require greater protection.
Furthermore, the anti-war attitudes in the US are noteworthy (International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 705 605; Lasar 605). The people sharing such views demanded the prevention of the wars associated with the war on terror, but their demands were not satisfied. Naturally, such attitudes never represented 100% of the population (Foreign Policy). However, should be noted that the Americans were not always provided with truthful information (Goodman 611-612). Technically, fact manipulation can be viewed as another approach to preventing people from defending their rights.
The mentioned issues were present at the beginning of this century. However, few would claim that modern US citizens live in a post-racism world or that the US government is not dominated by specific parties nowadays. It is noteworthy that despite the difficulty in fulfilling the American Promise, the country does not abandon the idea. Some of the issues that may prevent the US from achieving democracy and equality may include corruption, power imbalances, disinformation, and the insufficient representation of different groups in the government. Proclaiming a war on these problems could be the appropriate decision.
Brookings. “Can the War on Terror Be Won? An Article by Philip H. Gordon.” Brookings. 2007, Web.
Corrie, Rachel. “Letter from Palestine.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, pp. 608-610.
Foreign Affairs. “The Never-Ending War on Terror: An Article by Katherine Zimmerman.” Foreign Affairs, 2018, Web.
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Foreign Policy. “The Counterterrorism Consensus: An Article by Michael A. Cohen.” Foreign Policy. 2012, Web.
Frontline. “Thirty Years of America’s Drug War.” PBS. Web.
Goodman, Amy. “Independent Media in a Time of War.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, pp. 611-614.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 705. “”Resolution Against the War.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, p. 608.
Lasar, Rita. “To Avoid Another September II, U.S. Must Join the World.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, pp. 604-605.
Maulik, Monami. “Organizing in Our Communities Post-September 11 th.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, pp. 606-607.
Moore, Michael. “The Presidency – Just Another Perk.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, pp. 601-602.
Rodriguez, Orlando, and Phyllis Rodriguez. “Not in Our Son’s Name.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, p. 603.
Stanford. “America’s Drug War.” Stanford University. Web.
Vonnegut, Kurt. “Cold Turkey.” Voices of a People’s History of the United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Seven Stories Press, 2009, pp. 617-622.
Zinn, Howard, and Anthony Arnove. Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Seven Stories Press, 2009.