How do you explain to a nation – or snap a nation’s political leadership to attention – around a crisis when many rage? Military protocol may help. First, prioritize by imminence and damage, second address worst first, then third expand resolution. By this measure, America’s drug crisis is at DEFCON 1, demands “maximum readiness, immediate response.” Why?
Today, we have at least seven unfolding crises – COVID 19 (which ebbs and flows), elevated crime (based on social unrest, reduced respect for police), border penetration, Afghanistan aftermath (Americans and allies left), China (global ambitions), socialist ideology (divisive), and the exploding drug crisis.
Any one of these might rank first. All reflect a combination of incompetence, ideological disrespect for traditional legal rights and responsibilities, and lack of accountability – in short, poor leadership.
But take a minute and unpack them – to see why the drug crisis may rank very high on that list.
COVID is like background radiation, dangerous, ever-present, but not deadly for most, with basic precautions. Yet COVID isolation contributes to record drug abuse, suicides, public anxiety, and in a new twist, drug abusers – especially of marijuana – are more vulnerable to COVID. See, e.g., Substance use during the pandemic; Addiction increases risk of COVID breakthrough: study; Substance abuse raises risks of COVID after vaccination — especially if it’s weed.
Crime is high, homicides hitting records, but localized and resolvable.
Still, much is tied to drug trafficking, gang warfare, drug-induced offenses. Justice even attributes between 61 and 92 percent of domestic abuse to substance abuse, much of that tied to drugs. See, e.g., Exploring the Connection Between Domestic Violence and Addiction.
Open borders are infuriating, highly threatening, flout the law, threaten public health, safety, and electoral integrity. Yet they also feed the national drug crisis, record foreign drugs – in every state. See, e.g., Opioid Summaries by State.
Afghanistan seems far away, a big concern still saving Americans and allies left by Biden and preventing a new terror attack. But the country is also a major producer of high purity heroin. See, e.g., Profits and poppy: Afghanistan’s illegal drug trade a boon for Taliban.
Communist China is a threat to world peace, South China Sea and space to trade manipulation, cyber penetration, and nuclear buildout, all demanding vigilance. China – with Mexico – also is a top drug trafficker of deadly fentanyl into America. See, e.g., Drug seizures of fentanyl, meth see uptick along southwest border: DEA.
Socialist ideology is inherently dangerous since it suppresses individual liberties – found in our Bill of Rights – for utopianism. It also promotes – as drug legalizers have – moral relativity, lawlessness, indulgence over self-discipline, dependence over self-reliance, falsity over truth.
Three points: First, these threats are all real. Second, all six contribute to the nation’s drug crisis – COVID isolation creating addiction, disinterest in crime allowing distribution, open borders for trafficking, Afghan heroin, Chinese fentanyl, and socialism which abides lawlessness.
Third – the big one – recent CDC data show 93,000 young Americans died from high-potency narcotics last year. Sources at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) concede the number is far higher, at least 96,000 – before counting drugged driving, drug-related suicides, shootings, domestic abuse deaths.
So, back to military protocol – and where the drug crisis should rank. So-called “defense readiness conditions,” or DEFCON levels, go from 5 (“normal readiness”) to 1 (“maximum readiness, immediate response.” See, e.g., DEFCON.
While we could put other crises on this same scale, and some may also warrant DEFCON 1, the loss of 96,000 young Americans last year makes this crisis a clear candidate for DEFCON 1.
The drug crisis may seem “old hat” to some, but to families and individuals in the line of fire – and the entire nation is now in the line of fire – loss of a loved one overnight to an overdose, drug-related traffic deaths, suicides, shootings, assaults, robbery, burglaries, carjackings, or other downstream effects – can feel like genuine combat, with relentless incoming, a near nuclear war.
So, yes, we have much to concern ourselves about, all vectoring back to a crying need for principled, competent, accountable leadership. Yes, all crises are real, and all require action.
But the drug crisis is now becoming central – fed and feeding others – with a terrible death toll. As synthetic opioids – including Chinese and Mexican fentanyl – drive record deaths, should we not sit up, understand this crisis is DEFCON 1, demands “maximum readiness, immediate response?”