US Drug Problem
The Opinion page article "The US Anti-Drug Effort Should Begin at Home," Feb. 25, is contradictory. The author argues that United States overseas efforts have had "no impact" on our domestic drug problems and "never will." He also admits that the US should help foreign governments fight trafficker threats to their democratic institutions and political stability.
The author states that "our war against drugs will be won or lost at home." The author's isolationist "fortress America" approach is not sufficient to end the consumption of illegal drugs, especially among our youth. This is in part due to the ready availability and low prices of cocaine. Thus, an important component against the drug problem requires that we reduce easy availability of drugs and increase their price.
Unfortunately, our porous borders offer little defense to the massive amounts of cocaine produced in Colombia. Colombia continues to be the production, distribution, and financial center for cartels that control 90 percent of cocaine available in the US. Even if cocaine use in the US declines due to demand reduction programs, current cocaine production levels in the Andes will continue to saturate developed nations with cocaine.
Moreover, the US government's participation in the Andean nations' antidrug efforts is necessary in order to sustain an effective US-domestic enforcement effort. If the plug is pulled on these cooperative efforts, we will no longer be able to take action against the highest level traffickers operating in the US. A vigorous US policy of institution-building in Latin America will pay big dividends for US interests over the long-term. Robert C. Bonner, Washington Administrator of Drug Enforcement US Department of Justice US as trend-setter in weapons sales
In the article "Iran on Military Renewal: Keeping Up With the Gulf," March 4, the author rightly points out how large United States arms sales to the Gulf region provide an excuse for a nation like Iran to step up its own weapons purchases. The article mentions talks among the major arms sellers as one way to address this problem; a moratorium on sales to nations that abuse the human rights of their own people would be a dramatic way to jump-start such talks.
US soldiers have had to confront US weapons in enemy hands in both Iraq and Somalia - two nations ruled by repressive regimes. Were the US to sell weapons only to more responsible governments - and encourage its allies to do the same - then future Iraqs and Somalias might be avoided. This world must stop rewarding oppressive states by selling them arms. The US could set a leading example by renouncing sales to such nations. Mark S. Sternman, Washington Disarmament Campaign Organizer Peace Action Education Fund