Pubdate: Mon, 10 Apr 2000
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Francisco Examiner
Author: Tom O'Connell


Beyond the simple fact that the current insurgency predates Colombia's
criminal drug industry, there are many reasons for questioning U.S. drug
czar Barry McCaffrey's premise that massive military spending in Colombia
will reduce the flow of drugs into the United States. Yet McCaffrey, who
heads the White House Office of National Drug Policy, is lobbying for $1.7
billion mainly to attack leftist guerrillas.

A U.S.-inspired treaty globalized criminal drug markets in the '60. Their
size and influence were increased after President Nixon declared "war" on
drugs in the '70. The Soviet collapse and globalization of trade have
stimulated further growth to where criminal drug markets now corrupt whole
nations and threaten regional stability around the world.

Cocaine flowing from destitute Andean nations through a troubled Mexico to
the United States and heroin from Afghanistan/Pakistan through Kosovo into
Western Europe are but two examples. That drug revenues arm insurgencies and
repressions alike has been documented repeatedly: in Burma, Vietnam, Central
America and Afghanistan.

American experience with alcohol prohibition showed that the only "control"
of a criminal market is to put it out of business by ending the ban that
created it. Although our present political atmosphere won't permit this
logic to be articulated by anyone seeking political office, one hopes the
U.S. Senate won't see our failed drug policy as a valid reason to intensify
Colombia's war.

Even if they run true to form and approve Gen. McCaffrey's proposal, there's
a chance the ensuing humanitarian disaster may provoke rethinking of our
destructive drug policy. That may be the best that reasonable people can
hope for.

Tom O'Connell, San Mateo
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