Pubdate: Fri, 22 Dec 2000
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2000 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the Dec. 17 article "Colombia crumbles," the Colombian 
government's peace plan 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 overwhelming military force to attack the 
symptoms. Forcing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to 
the bargaining table at gunpoint will not remedy Colombia's societal 

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-type drugs.

Rather than waste resources attempting to overcome immutable laws of supply 
and demand, policy-makers 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, to which 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 

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.

Robert Sharpe, Program officer, Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation 
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