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Op-Ed

Has the U.S. “Militarized the Battle” Against Illegal Drugs?

Andrés Rozental

The whole issue of how the United States and other countries continue to spend these huge amounts of money to ensure that the fight against drug trafficking remains outside the United States needs to be re-considered, not only because the existing interdiction policy has been an abysmal failure, but also because the sale of large quantities of arms and other military hardware to governments in Latin America and the Caribbean has only made their own security and public safety situation worse. The amounts mentioned by the Associated Press are only a small portion of the total budgets spent on unsuccessfully trying to stop drugs from entering the United States.

The only smart solution to the illicit narcotics market is to face the unpalatable, but nonetheless real, fact that drugs—like alcohol, tobacco and other stimulants—are an integral part of social behavior in most countries and that they need to be differentiated, decriminalized, taxed and regulated just like prescription drugs, liquor, cigarettes and the rest. Until that happens, the shameful waste of resources being spent on a ‘mission impossible’ only fuels the criminal elements involved in the business and raises the associated social, economic and political costs being borne by producing, consuming and transit nations. This relates both to military as well as civilian spending associated with the drug trafficking phenomenon and in my opinion applies equally to the public and private sectors.

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