I'm preparing for a symposium at the University of District of Columbia School of Law. The title of the symposium "Life After the War on Drugs" (scroll down the page to get the info). It will be interesting because I'm sure that I'll be exposed to a much different perspective than I'd run into in Virginia.
Anyway, it's my hope that this is the harbinger of the death of the analogy "War on Drugs." I hate this comparison. Wars are eventually won or lost. Wars involve the invasion of, and holding territory. Wars threaten the actual destruction of the countries involved. The interdiction of illegal drugs is a policing action.
Policing never ends. Of course, where the line is drawn for policing is a policy / morality / philosophy decision. However, the enforcement of that line is an ongoing matter.
Drug abuse has been around for a long time. It will be around for a long time. Alcohol and opium have been around for a looooooong time. Distilled (more powerful) alcohol has been around since sometime around 2k B.C. Distilled heroin and cocaine have been around since the 1800's. Anti-drug enforcement goes back to at least the 7th century (Quran bans alcohol and hashish). U.S. enforcement goes back to 1875 when San Francisco tried to ban opium dens.
Unless we just walk away from drug enforcement, adopt a "let 'em die in the streets" attitude, and let legal pharmaceutical companies flood the streets (and crowd the current illegal dealers out), we are going to be trying to find ways to stop abuse for all time. Police interdiction will remain a significant part of these efforts. Let's name it for what it is and stop calling a permanent effort a "war."