Truth About The Drug War!

Truth About The Drug War!
Posted by FoM on March 09, 1999 at 05:52:09 PT

  The Clinton administration's decision to certify Mexico in the war on drugs does not change the facts: Drug use in the United States and drug trafficking through Mexico are on the rise. 
According to the administration's own National Drug Control Strategy, "since 1992, there has been a substantial increase in the use of most drugs -- particularly marijuana" among American youth. Meanwhile, record levels of illegal drugs are entering the United States from Mexico; more than $10 billion in drugs crossed our southwest border in 1997, and the Border Patrol in Texas alone seized $765 million worth. And Drug Enforcement Administration Director Thomas Constantine recently told Congress that official corruption in Mexico is "unparalleled to anything I've seen in 30 years of law enforcement." Clearly, certification and decertification have no meaning against a backdrop of rampant corruption and trafficking in Mexico and the drug epidemic on America's streets. The current certification process has become a finger-pointing exercise in mutual deception, while too little progress is being made in the drug war. Many of us in Congress, particularly those representing border states, have long sought an alternative to this process, which forces us to choose between false alternatives of full cooperation (certification), or insufficient cooperation (decertification). Even with a waiver on national security grounds as permitted by current law, decertification places a country in a pariah status reserved for countries that the United States hopes to isolate from the rest of the global community. It would be unproductive and short-sighted to place Mexico, with which we share a 2,000-mile border, in that position. In addition to offering a false choice, the current process also focuses too much on countries and too little on objectives. For example, while we are ostensibly evaluating Mexico, what we're really interested in is whether we're making progress on drug eradication, law enforcement and education. These are objectives that cut across borders and involve a number of countries, the United States included. It would be better -- and I am working with other senators to write such legislation -- to identify desired objectives that require cooperation among several countries and develop a process by which we evaluate progress across a broad front. For example, apprehension of drug kingpins is an objective that literally respects no border as these international criminals hopscotch throughout the hemisphere seeking haven. While any given country may be lax in pursuing a given druglord, it may be more useful to compare that country's effort with those in other countries and establish a more comprehensive approach to the problem. This process would allow the United States, in cooperation with other countries in the hemisphere, to develop a multi-national web of relationships among law enforcement agencies, military forces, banking institutions and governments needed to wage a real war on drugs. It would allow us, together with our allies in this war, to determine where extra resources may be needed -- in eradication, law enforcement, surveillance, etc. -- to address a specific objective. Such a look-back procedure is sorely lacking in the current certification process. It would also open us up to greater self-assessment, because counter-drug use/education efforts -- where the statistics clearly show the United States is failing -- would be part of any list of objectives. The current process allows us to bash an individual country -- Mexico, this year -- and avoid talking about the unpleasant reality that the U.S. counter-drug education efforts since 1993 could best be described as too little, too late. In fact, many members of Congress vent their frustration on Mexico's supply problem because they feel nearly powerless to reinvigorate efforts to stem America's demand problem. We are also considering a proposal that would exempt from the certification process any country with which the United States has a bilateral anti-drug cooperation agreement. That seems a reasonable starting point for a discussion about how to end the annual certification charade, but any such proposal would have to include regular administration -- and congressional -- review of those agreements so that they may be strengthened where necessary. The first casualty in war is the truth, and that's been the case in the war on drugs. We're only going to win this war by telling the plain truth, and the plain truth is that too many countries, including Colombia, are producing drugs. Too many countries, including Mexico, are trafficking in drugs. And too many countries, including the United States, are using drugs. Finger-pointing won't solve this problem. Cooperation where helpful, and confrontation where necessary, will. The writer is a Republican senator from Texas.  Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: