Pubdate: Tue, 28 Aug 2001
Source: Telegraph (NH)
Copyright: 2001 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the Editor:

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial that The Telegraph reprinted on 
Aug. 18 and which called for Spanish classes for the CIA pilots that 
contributed to the deaths of two innocent members of an American missionary 
family flying over Peru ignores the big picture.

As Peruvian coca production has gone down, Colombian coca production and 
domestic methamphetamine production have both gone up, along with the U.S. 
incarceration rate, now the highest in the world.

A Bush administration proposal to add another $25 million in Peruvian 
counternarcotics aid to expand the Clinton administration's Plan Colombia 
is a prime of example of big government throwing good money after bad. The 
additional funds will not negate the immutable laws of supply and demand 
that drive illegal drug production. A crackdown in one region leads to 
increased cultivation elsewhere.

Creating a global welfare state in which every developing country is paid 
not to grow illicit crops is a rather expensive proposition. The various 
armed factions in Colombia that are tearing the country apart are 
financially dependent on profits generated by America's never-ending drug 
war. While U.S. politicians continue to use the drug war's collateral 
damage to justify its intensification at home and abroad, European 
countries are embracing harm reduction. Harm reduction is based on the 
principle that both drug use and drug prohibition has the potential to 
cause harm. Given the historical precedent in alcohol prohibition, harm 
reduction should be readily understood by Congress. Ironically, fear of 
appearing "soft on crime" compels many politicians to support a punitive 
drug policy that ultimately fuels organized crime and violence.

Robert Sharpe
Program Officer
Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation Washington, D.C.
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