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March 2007
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Firefighting

This editorial in the Sacramento Bee got my attention:

Why Finance More Drug War Failures?
Two days after President Bush promised $3.7 billion more in aid to fight cocaine trafficking in Colombia, Sacramento police and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents announced the largest crack cocaine bust in the city’s history. Police seized seven pounds of crack and two pounds of pure cocaine Tuesday. The drugs’ estimated street value was a modest $375,000.
The juxtaposition of the two events, the president’s promise of yet more aid for drug fighting in Colombia and the record cocaine seizure in Sacramento, is instructive. Over the last seven years, U.S. taxpayers have spent $4.7 billion to finance Plan Colombia, under which the Colombian government sprayed millions of acres with herbicides to eradicate coca fields and launched military offensives against guerrillas. It has had minimal impact on the availability or price of cocaine in the United States. […]
Critics within Colombia point out that U.S.-financed eradication efforts have produced thousands of refugees and that the spraying kills not just coca but legal crops such as cassava, plantains and sugar cane, leaving small farmers with nothing. Money promised for economic development for alternatives to the lucrative drug trade never materialized. Meanwhile, coca growing has moved to new areas within Colombia, including the country’s fragile national parks, and other countries in the region, destabilizing them in the process.

Exactly. We’ve been throwing money away on eradication and just causing more problems.
Excellent editorial. Until…

U.S. efforts should be focused in our own communities, on, in his words, “an obligation to reduce the demand.” Don’t waste billions more in Colombia. Fight drug traffickers on the U.S. streets. Use the money for local police and prosecutors, for drug treatment and education, for economic development, housing, job training and after-school programs. [emphasis added]

And it ends up talking about how these are the best ways to “win a war on drugs.”
Sigh.
If they’d just left out the parts I bolded, it would be a good editorial, but instead it’s just more of that muddle-headed thinking that surely some kind of fighting is necessary since we’re in a “war.” So while everybody seems to see that the war isn’t working, you’ve got some people saying “The problem is, we’ve got to kill more Colombians,” and someone else saying “No, no, you’re wrong — that doesn’t work. We’ve got to kill more Americans.”
Some days it feels like I’m watching a house on fire. And one idiot wants to put it out with a machine gun. The other one wants to use grenades. And I’m standing there with a bucket of water and they look at me like I’m crazy.

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