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Joseph Miranda

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War or Pseudo-War

This essay addresses an Orwellian dimension of US policy. The U.S. “War on Drugs” motivates much of America’s law enforcement strategy and involves an increasing sector of its foreign policy. Yet the United States is no closer to winning this war now than when it was first launched and no serious change in strategy is even considered. Employing standard military analysis, Miranda reveals the real purpose of the War on Drugs to be the attainment of other political objectives, especially the enhancement of state power by using the social tensions created by the psychology of a “war” environment. In a permanent state of emergency, people think it perfectly natural to surrender their rights to the state in return for the perception of security. The war on drugs is a “pseudo-war” because people gain the thrills of fighting a war without having to suffer from the casualties and destruction of a real war. However, this strategy fails when confronted by actual armed resistance and the United States has floundered in the face of endless warfare in drug-producing countries abroad and of an increasingly militant resistance at home — a potentially disastrous situation.

United States — social policy — drug control policy, state of emergency, political rights, the perception of security

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 25, No. 2 (1998): 65-84