Pubdate: Sat, 23 Dec 2000
Date: 12/23/2000
Source: Plain Dealer, The (OH)
Author: Robert Sharpe

Regarding the Dec. 10 article on U.S. funding of Colombia's drug war:
Plan Colombia could very well spread both civil war and coca
production throughout the region. Communist guerrilla movements do not
originate in a vacuum. U.S. tax dollars would be better spent
addressing the underlying causes of civil strife rather than applying
military force to attack the symptoms. Forcing Colombia's guerrillas
to the bargaining table at gunpoint will not remedy Colombia's
societal inequities.

We're not doing the Colombian people any favors by funding civil war.
Nor are we protecting Americans from drugs. Cut off the flow of
cocaine and domestic methamphetamine production will boom to meet the
demand for cocaine-like drugs. Rather than waste resources attempting
to overcome immutable laws of supply and demand, policymakers should
look to the lessons learned from America's disastrous experiment with
alcohol prohibition. The drug war finances organized crime while
failing miserably at preventing use.

With organized crime comes corruption, and the United States is not
immune. The former commander of U.S. anti-drug operations in Colombia
was found guilty of laundering the profits of his wife's
heroin-smuggling operation. Entire countries have been destabilized
because of the corrupting influence of organized-crime groups that
profit from the illegal drug trade. Drug laws fuel crime and
corruption, which is then used to justify increased drug-war spending.
It's time to end this madness and start treating all substance abuse -
legal or otherwise - as the public-health problem it is.

Washington, D.C.

Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation