Five years and $3 billion into the most aggressive counternarcotics operation ever here, American and Colombian officials say they have eradicated a record-breaking million acres of coca plants, yet cocaine remains as available as ever on American streets, perhaps more so.
“It’s very disturbing,” said a senior State Department official traveling here with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is on a five-day tour of the region.
Colombian traffickers still provide 90 percent of the cocaine used in the United States and 50 percent of the heroin, just as they did five years ago, the government says. “Key indicators of domestic cocaine availability show stable or slightly increased availability in drug markets throughout the country,” the White House drug policy office acknowledged in February. Officials added that prices have remained stable and purity has improved. …
Even with the contradictory results from the first five years, the Bush administration is asking Congress to extend Plan Colombia for at least one more year. The president’s budget proposal asks for another $734 million next year on top of the $2.9 billion already spent.
A senior State Department official who is involved in the Colombia program said, “Give us another year or so and see if there is any effect.”
At a news conference [in Bogota] on Tuesday, Ms. Rice said Washington had no intention of reassessing the program, adding that such a move would most likely take a long time to see results in the United States…
[Dan] Burton, the subcommittee chairman, said he was inclined to favor the president’s request to renew Plan Colombia financing.
This is five times as much as the federal government spends on the arts. Now you may disagree with arts funding, and you may not like all the art that comes from arts funding, but arts funding at least doesn’t destroy the rainforest, increase international violence and terrorism, spread poison on poor farmers’ crops with nothing to show for it — at least with the arts funding you can get a pretty good symphony and some excellent arts in the schools now and then.
So yes, really. I want to know. Are they really that stupid?
A prominent blogger recently accused me of being a fanatic because I assumed my opponents were either dishonest or uninformed. OK, then, I’m a fanatic. For what choice do I have when my opponents fail to provide any logical explanation for their positions, while at the same time refusing to even seriously consider alternate solutions?
I cannot, and will not, sit here and say “Well, they must have some good reason for this that they’re not sharing.” Nor can I say “Well, they’re entitled to their opinion.” This isn’t about opinion; it’s about facts.
I will continue to be a fanatic until the prohibitionists can make some kind of showing that they are both honest and well informed — something I don’t expect anytime soon.