Wars of things and ideas like The War on Drugs or The War on Terror are fundamentally difficult to fight because they involve not just a conventional victory on the battlefield through military or police might, but rather a victory over certain cultures and ideas that propagandize drug use and terrorism. Although the jury is still out on the War on Terror, I consider the War on Drugs though undertaken with good intentions to be a largely failed effort.
A brutal war between warring drug cartel factions holds innocent Mexican citizens hostage on a daily basis and the drug cartels keep finding new and inventive ways to sneak their products into the United States like through the use of large underground tunnels that then funnel the drugs onto American streets. Indeed it feels like there are more drugs in America today than when the actual war started in the late 1980’s.
As for the War on Terror, if we are fighting a war to eliminate all terrorism from the globe then we’re going to lose because terrorism as a practice has existed longer than the United States. It’s not just one ideology or man that spawns terrorism but a diverse range of grievances and justifications and those cannot be killed through gun and bullet…stack bodies high and deep... it won’t matter in the endgame. Terrorist ideas need to be repudiated within their host communities that is the only way that a true victory can ever be claimed.
These wars of ideas have no start or end date and are difficult to battle plan for because whether drug cartel or Islamic extremist, your enemy will adapt to your tactics…there’s greater mobility, changing battlefields, and they have tremendous costs beyond soldiers or border patrol. There are wasted lives and human potential used up by drug addiction and Islamic radicalization, not to mention the domestic resources expended in a cause that may be the noblest idea, but the most impossible undertaking.