The War On Drugs And U.S. Foreign Policy

4308 words - 17 pages


The War on Drugs has been a common phrase in the United States for many decades. What exactly does this mean and how does it shape U.S. foreign policy? The War on Drugs can be defined as the systematic and aggressive policy that is determined to undermine and stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. This policy is backed by several U.S. institutions including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Customs. Also, included in this list are the numerous local law enforcement agencies across the country.

The U.S. government has instituted the following ways for enforcing its foreign drug policy: interdiction, eradication, legislative reform. Interdiction is the attempt to stop drugs as they are en route to the United States. This remains to be a formidable task; because of the enormous size of the United States, policing its vast borders has proven to be extremely difficult. For example, the United States has over 12,000 miles of shoreline, through 300 ports of legal entry, and over 7,500 miles of border with Canada and Mexico. The jurisdiction of these border points fall under all of the above mentioned agencies and military branches. Herein lays the first problem of foreign policy on drugs, determining which agency/branch has rightful control over which part of the border. The DEA and FBI have overlapping roles in when it comes to enforcing drug policy. Miscommunication often happens when attempting to interdict drugs because of overlapping jurisdiction between two government agencies. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the United States has spent over $25 billion on source country interdiction and eradication.

Eradication is the next aspect of enforcing U.S. foreign drug policy. This refers to the elimination of drug crops while they are still being grown. The U.S. has used this policy in several South American countries as a means to limit drug trafficking before it has a chance to develop. However, significantly reducing crops has not always led to decreasing drug trafficking. Reduction of drug crops in one country may lead to increased production in another. This is likely to happen when one country becomes the focus of an eradication effort, while another country can increase its production to fill in the void. If there is one thing that the world market can produce, it is its high demand of illegal drugs. The Drug Policy Alliance gives cites a specific instance verifying the problems that can be associated with eradication procedures. During the mid 1990s, “eradication efforts in Bolivia and Peru created incentives to grow coca in Columbia. While Peru experienced a 66% reduction in coca cultivation and Bolivia experienced a 53% reduction, coca cultivation in Columbia doubled. In addition, more potent strains of coca have been developed, leading to higher yielding...

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