NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Analyst Says Clinton Must Reinvent U.S. Drug Policy, Eliminating Supply Side Strategies


June 1993

A substantial change in U.S. drug policy will require a drastic revision of the Reagan-Bush emphasis on law enforcement and military involvement, concludes analyst Kate Doyle (Kate Doyle, "Drug War: A Quietly Escalating Failure," NACLA Report On The Americas, May 1993, Vol. 26 No. 5, p. 29).

"The more difficult task is finding humane and effective alternatives," writes Doyle. "In Latin America, that means giving up supply-side interdiction strategies and building new alliances through democratic trade and development. In the United States, it means abandoning the logic of enforcement that has driven counterdrug policies for so long. If Clinton is truly committed to changing U.S. drug policy, he must do more than simply reform it. He must reinvent it."

Despite increasing expenditures and expanding involvement by the U.S. military in Central and South American drug interdiction and eradication efforts, no discernible impact on drug traffic has occurred, says Doyle. Although the U.S. military was initially hesitant to become involved in the drug war, the demise of the Cold War left the military in search of a cause, and the drug war filled the bill, she observes. Now, Department of Defense officials are enthusiastic supporters of military involvement in drug fighting. The price of this involvement has been high, growing from a mere $1 million in fiscal year 1981 to $54.8 million for 1985. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan's final year in office, the Administration allocated $439 million for Department of Defense (DOD) drug-related activity. President George Bush tripled that, spending $1.2 billion in 1992, his last year in office.