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Bertram - Three Fatal Flaws in the War on Drugs - Ch30 in Charon

Bertram - Three Fatal Flaws in the War on Drugs - Ch30 in Charon

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30 Three Fatal Flaws in the War on Drugs EVA BERTRAM, MORRIS BLACHMAN, KENNETH SHARPE, AND PETER ANDREAS The Four Questions 1. It is difficult to identify the problem discussed here : Is it drugs or the war on drugs itself? What do the authors argue? 2. Is this a social problem? Who is hurt? Is soci- ety hurt? Is the cause social? Do many people recognize the problem? 3. What is the cause of the problem? 4. How can we best deal with the problems according to the authors? Topics Covered Drugs War on drugs Crime Market Profit Punishment M uch has been written about the dismal record of the war on drugs . Less well known are the reasons behind the drug war's fail- ure . Three fatal flaws are built into the drug strat- egy itself, flaws that doom the strategy at every turn and systematically undermine efforts to eliminate the production, distribution, and consumption of illegal drugs . . . . The inability or unwillingness to see that the poor track record of the drug war is due to fundamental flaws in the strategy is one reason U .S . leaders answer failure with escalation, continuing to pour good money after bad in the fight against drugs. FAILURE AND THE PATTERN OF DENIAL The United States has been engaged in a battle against drugs since 1914 . In the early 1970s Presi- dent Nixon transformed it into a major drug war, and it was fought most fiercely by Presidents Rea- gan and Bush in the 1980s and early 1990s . Yet, as most Americans know, we have little to show for it . But we have tried . The annual federal drug budget for law enforcement has grown from roughly $53 million in 1970 to more than $8 .2 billion in 1995 : since 1970 we have invested roughly $68 bil- lion in domestic and foreign drug enforcement- $65 billion of this since 1981 . . . . 1 The problem is not our lack of will or even the limits of our national pocketbook but, rather, our inability or unwillingness to see three fatal flaws at the heart of the drug war strategy : two undermine the war on the drug sup- ply, and a third undercuts the war on drug users. Failing to recognize these flaws, we look for another fix-a little more funding, a little more firepower-and delude ourselves into thinking the drug war can work . . . . SOURCE : From Eva Bertram, Morris Blachman, Kenneth Sharpe, and Peter Andreas, Drug War Politics : The Price of Denial . Copyright © 1996 The Regents of the University of California . Reprinted by permission of the University of California Press and the authors . 332
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ARTICLE 30 THREE FATAL FLAWS IN THE WAR ON DRUGS 333 THE FLAWS IN THE WAR ON SUPPLY . . . The U .S . war on supply is fought at each of the three stages in the global drug trade . First, U .S. antidrug agencies target drugs at the source by pres- suring foreign governments to eliminate coca, poppy, and marijuana production (with eradication or crop-substitution programs) and to attack the refining facilities that convert the crops into heroin or cocaine . Second, antidrug agencies target drugs at or en route to U .S . borders, using planes, boats, border patrols, and customs officers to interdict drug shipments . Finally, drug-enforcement agents
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