In a democratic society, there is the need to agree on what are the basic facts. Even more important is the search for consensus on tackling and solving certain social problems. At this juncture in American society, the value consensus when it comes to foreign policy and domestic policy is in a severe contradictory state. The society is being harmed by the rise and prevalence of demagogic leadership.
In the Post-World War II period, America was armed with a plethora of well-educated foreign policy specialists whose wisdom guided the nation to establishing a new world order. One notable figure was George F. Kennan who was head of Planning in the United States State Department.
Kennan was the author of the far reaching article published under a pseudonym as “Mr. X” that appeared in the journal, Foreign Affairs. America had to respond to the encroaching Red Army that had imperialistically marched into Eastern Europe. Kennan’s counsel was not to immediately go to war with the Soviet Union but to implement a policy of containment. NATO and other international alliances were set up to contain the expansionist-inclined Soviet Union. The policy avoided a hot war and subsequently led to the crumbling of the Soviet Union as a result of its own internal failures.
Other statesmen like former General, George Marshall, were astute enough to recognize that America’s return to isolationism would not serve America’s national interest and pursued a policy of what became known as the Marshall Plan that was instrumental in the rebuilding of Europe.
In the second decade of the twenty-first century, America is lacking in elected officials and non-elected officials who are capable in putting together far reaching policies that pay long term dividends for the American nation. Instead, we have fallen prey to fearmongers who demagogically scapegoat problems and negate the urgency to vigorously solve certain national problems that are eating at the social fabric of the nation.
One critical problem that has worsened in recent years is America’s propensity for drugs. The country is all over the landscape in regards to drugs. From the 1970s the Nixon administration had declared a war on drugs. By any stretch of the imagination the War on Drugs has been a national failure. It has been successful in inundating our jails and prisons with non-violent offenders.
But even more alarming is the push in states to legalize marijuana, some states for medical reasons, some for recreational reasons. The Federal government has not changed its policy as marijuana is still listed as an illegal drug.
The Surgeon General is very much aware of the epidemic in the use of addictive drugs and has published a study aimed at educating Americans and to get decision-makers to deal with the crisis of addiction.
The percentage of the population who engages in alcohol misuse and illicit drugs is indeed troubling. 66.7 million Americans in 2015 engaged in binge drinking. There were 27.1 million users of illicit drugs. Most Americans who use alcohol use it for recreational purposes. What is alarming to the Surgeon General is that there isn’t a national policy and sufficient resources to treat substance abuse disorders. Insurance policies tended not to cover substance abuse treatment modalities although the Affordable Care Act did rectify that situation in some respects. The ACA has made the treatment of substance disorders an integral part of insurance coverage.
In the treatment of substance abuse disorders, there will invariably be relapses and Resource Support Services (RSS) are critical to ensure that when there is a relapse, RSS is there to bolster the patient’s chance of success.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Surgeon General’s Report 2016 on Addiction is the overflow of overdose deaths that have been increasing over the years. To put overdose deaths in some kind of perspective, there are approximately 14,000 to 15,000 homicides each year. That is a substantial reduction in comparison to the beginning of the 1990s when the nation recorded approximately 24,000 homicides. Suicides are a serious problem in the country and there are approximately over 30,000 deaths as a result of suicides per year. There is a relationship linking the lack of intervention for depression, easy access to guns and suicides.
In 2014, there were 47,055 deaths attributed to overdosing. The dependency on prescription drugs is quite alarming throughout affluent America. When prescription drugs are not readily available or patients have lost access to prescription drugs, the resort is to acquire cheaper heroin that is readily available in the underground market. From 2001 to 2014, heroin overdoses have tripled. In 2014, 10,574 deaths were attributable to heroin.
Heroin has superseded cocaine in usage and in overdose deaths. There were 5,415 deaths attributed to cocaine. A total of 17,465 overdose deaths were caused by illicit hard drugs. We are heading in the direction of institutionalizing an army of junkies that will have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of America.
The hard drugs do come from outside of America but the insatiable appetite for drugs that is now widespread in states where there has been an economic downturn cannot be blamed on external agents. The drug epidemic in America represents an existential crisis. The country is in desperate need for enlightened leadership. There is no question that something is rotten in the state of America. Unquestionably, the state of the union is not good.