Our pointless ‘drug war’ | VailDaily.com

Our pointless ‘drug war’

Alex Miller

Can anyone out there think of a better use of $4.7 billion than trying to mess with Columbia’s coca crop?Well, you might say, that depends on how successful such an effort might be. Maybe if the coca crop had been cut in half, severely reducing the availability of cocaine in America, it’d be worth it.That was the goal of “Plan Colombia,” launched in 2000 to halve that country’s coca crop. Alas, that hasn’t happened. In fact, according to a story in last week’s New York Times, drug policy experts say the price, quality and availability of cocaine in this country has remained unchanged all those billions of dollars later.Worse, the effort has had the effect of driving coca farmers to grow their crop in smaller, more remote plots, making it even more difficult to find and eradicate.In some ways, our largely ineffective “war on drugs mirrors our “war on terror” in that it targets the wrong thing. Terrorists attack us, so we invade a country that had nothing to do with it, creating lots more terrorists in the bargain. A certain number of Americans like to do cocaine, so we target farmers in another country logically growing the most lucrative crop they can while mostly ignoring the root cause of the trade: the demand itself.Well, at least by labeling tough problems as “wars” it makes us feel like we’re getting all tough on them. Maybe we can target other pressing needs with similar labels. Anyone down with a “war for education,” a “battle for health care” or a “skirmish to wipe out poverty?”A.M.Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2931, or amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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