Obama’s Drug Czar Says No More War Rhetoric

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I say this is encouraging, and shouldn’t be dismissed as mere symbolism.

My Reason colleague Jacob Sullum is more skeptical.

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20 Responses to “Obama’s Drug Czar Says No More War Rhetoric”

  1. #1 |  Marta Rose | 

    or rather, shouldn’t be dismissed as *mere* symbolism.

  2. #2 |  Chance | 

    Sorry, but I tend to agree with your colleague, actions speak louder than words.

  3. #3 |  Michael Pack | 

    With the Obama take over of the banking,car and ,soon ,the health industries ,we’re all going to need to get high.Maybe they have their eyes set on the drug trade,they’ll need the cash.

  4. #4 |  Mike T | 

    In honor of Bob Goodlatte (R-**AA,BSA,Disney,Horseracing) I bet $5 that in 2012 Sullum is going to be proved right here.

  5. #5 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    For the 30th year in a row, I’m going to bet on “skeptical” being the right play.

    I’m 30-0.

  6. #6 |  Tim C | 

    Gotta go with “more skeptical” on this one too.

  7. #7 |  claude | 

    Put me on the “more skeptical” list too.

  8. #8 |  Andrew S. | 

    Add me to the list of people who are more skeptical on the subject. It’s nice symbolism, but it’s not going to really do anything.

  9. #9 |  MG | 

    It’s a start, but so far the Obama administration has been all rhetoric on issues we thought he would be better on. Medical MJ raids continue. He laughed at marijuana legalization at that town hall and then made fun of internet users – the same people who put him in office. He’s been silent on gay marriage. Torture is being covered up. The more we get to tknow the guy the more we see that he’s always been another smooth talking con-artist, like every other politician who will say or do anything to get power.

  10. #10 |  Marty | 

    more skeptical. sadly.

  11. #11 |  Kristen | 

    So it’s okay to wage war against people as long as you don’t call it war?

    Balko the Beltway Libertarian is more easily mollified then I thought!

  12. #12 |  MacGregory | 

    Calling it something else won’t change what it is. Label me “more skeptical” as well.

  13. #13 |  Eric Hanneken | 

    So it’s okay to wage war against people as long as you don’t call it war?

    That’s not what Radley wrote. If I’m reading him correctly, he’s saying that the metaphor of war has made drug prohibition more violent and rights-trampling than it used to be. Abandoning the war mindset will (may?) ameliorate the carnage.

    My own position is that it couldn’t hurt, but I’m as irritated as Jacob Sullum is about the medical metaphor that the new czar prefers. Paraphrasing Thomas Szasz, a building that you can’t leave is a prison, even if you call it a hospital.

  14. #14 |  Bernard | 

    I’m glad to see they’ve finally declared war on bellicose rhetoric.

  15. #15 |  Edwin Sheldon | 

    Sorry, but I tend to agree with your colleague, actions speak louder than words.

    Indeed. Thus far, Obama has been long on words and short on action. I’m not holding my breath.

  16. #16 |  JS | 


  17. #17 |  Billy Beck | 

    I like you, Radley, but you’re a weakling.

    In any case, I see a strategic pivot here. I see a whole population ripe for easy transition to socialist medicine, and I’ll bet Obama does, too. This is a trade going on here. The interests of state will be served at least as handily by a Treatment Process as by a War on Drugs, with the added garnish of the medical angle.

    Mark my words. None of this is good.

  18. #18 |  End of the War on Drugs? Dream on. | Renegade Futurist | 

    […] (via Radley Balko). […]

  19. #19 |  DaveG | 

    Don’t bet against a trend.
    Too much at stake here, legalizing drugs could cause peace to break out

  20. #20 |  Pat | 


    The link above is for the drug czar’s office. It is setup to capture welcome statements to Kerlikowske from the public. I changed the title box to a thing about the “end of the drug war” assertion and sent Kerlikowske the following letter.

    As long as the Obama Administration continues to expend significant military, police and prison resources on the oppression of unpopular intoxicant consuming Americans the war on drugs WILL be a war on the American people. A civil war.

    Police and prisons are not a public health response to disease.

    The Obama administration can try to hide from the negative political connotations of the term “war on drugs” but as long as it continues to escalate and militarize the policy it will be seen as the duplicitous hypocrisy that it is.

    And the drug czar will be seen as a treasonous government subsidized propagandist for the drug gangs, cartels and terrorist organizations that all thrive in the black market imposed by the war on drugs prohibition policy.

    The Democrats and Republicans will NEVER end the war on drugs because prohibition subsidizes the proliferation of crime and terrorism. Well subsidized crime and terrorism justify the authoritarian police state that the Democrats and Republicans, together, are building in this world.