Donald Trump has, it seems, finally offered his plan for dealing with the opioid crisis in America. He did so during his State of the Union address to Congress, filled with Republican applause (none louder than The Donald’s), introducing the country to an Albuquerque policeman who had decided to adopt the future baby — now named “Hope” — of a homeless, pregnant heroin addict he found preparing to shoot up behind a convenience store. Previously, the president had directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid epidemic to be a “national emergency.” He didn’t, however, come up with an extra cent of federal money to make it so. As a result, his response to the present national crisis of addiction turns out to be a nod of approval to the possibility of police officers adopting the babies of opioid addicts.
And that’s the closest his administration has come to forward thinking on the issue of drug wars in his first year in office. The president has, in fact, been a major enabler of what may be the leading addiction crisis in America. I’m thinking about the Pentagon and its drug of choice: money. At a time when, from infrastructure to health care, money is desperately needed and seldom found, only the Pentagon is still mainlining dollars as if there were no tomorrow. It’s shooting up in full view of the world and Donald Trump is aiding and abetting the process, eternally calling for yet more money to pump up that military (as well as the U.S. nuclear arsenal).
Today, TomDispatch regular Nick Turse offers a tale about just where such an addiction can lead — not just when it comes to those proliferating “drug” wars (the ones the U.S. military is so addicted to from Afghanistan to Somalia and just can’t stop fighting) but to the squandering of taxpayer dollars in staggering sums across much of the planet. In the cases of U.S. Africa Command and Central Command, that includes what passes for actual counternarcotics activities in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Let Turse tell you a true-life story of squandered money and drug wars that catches the essence of what may be the true opioid crisis of twenty-first-century America.