Political intervention key to global war on drugs

Hassan Tahsin

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Every year, the United Nations and the world observe the International Anti-Drug Day. The media outlets give this event a comprehensive coverage but no new ideas are suggested nor are decisive procedures taken to fight this menace.

We do not need to have an international day to recognize the dangers of drugs as much as we direly need concerted efforts to fight off this epidemic which, I believe, is more dangerous than AIDS.

Every year during this event, the world dedicates its attention to two pivotal aspects. First, countries work to curb and eventually eliminate this menace from the market. Security authorities everywhere enforce anti-drug laws to protect citizens. Undoubtedly, these concerted efforts are significant in reducing the supply of drugs and fighting trafficking.

Second, concerned authorities around the world work hard to reduce demand on drugs and raise public awareness about the dangers drugs have on health, family, and entire society. The authorities also provide drug addicts with rehabilitation and treatment to help them get off drugs. Similarly, these efforts are significant as well.

But what is the result of these efforts on the ground? Unfortunately, drugs still exist in copious amounts and still threaten societies. A U.N. report mentioned that drug enforcement authorities bust only 10-20 percent of the total drugs available in global markets. In other words, drug gangs succeed in getting 80-90 percent of the drugs to drug users.

We must pause here and admit there is something wrong. The anti-drug policy deals with the issue as if it were an economic matter that can be explained through a supply-demand theory. This is a short-sighted, let alone ineffective way, to handle it. Evidently, the policy has overlooked a pivotal aspect, which is rarely mentioned, and by that I mean the aspect of fighting drugs as a product.

More significance should be attached to this aspect than the two aforementioned above. The focus should be on how to eradicate and destroy the places where drugs are produced and manufactured.

Traditional and manufactured

Two types of drugs should be mentioned here. The first one is traditional drugs — hashish, opium, cannabis, qat (narcotic plant), marijuana, etc.

The methods used for growing these drugs should be eradicated by hook or by crook. This matter should be taken seriously. Of course, studies should be conducted to find solutions to the farmers of these drugs and ways to train them to grow other plants that can make more profits for them.

The second type is manufactured drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ice, and all types of hallucinatory and narcotic pills. Two things should be done simultaneously to fight the second type. First, stricter government control on factories, which produce chemicals used for manufacturing these types, should be exercised. It is easy for governments around the world to locate these factories.

Second, the factories producing manufactured drugs should be destroyed and military force should be considered as an option, if necessary. If this does not work, military intervention from other countries should be the only solution whether the host country likes it or not. Columbia, some Central America states, Caribbean, the Gold Triangle (Southeast Asia) have a large number of these factories.

If the United States of America has appointed itself the leader and protector of this world, this is the right time to lead the world in the war against drugs, especially that the USA has the largest drug-consuming market. Only when the USA takes this step will we take off our hats and salute it.

Simply put, effective military plans should be designed and implemented under the U.N. umbrella to destroy all the strongholds of drugs whether the countries with drug factories accepted it or not.

No one will dare say that such thing is an act of interference in internal affairs because the safety of the entire world populations is at stake here. The USA has interfered in the internal affairs of many countries politically, militarily, and through intelligence. Its goal was to protect its political and economic interests. For the USA these interests are more important than fighting drugs.

In fact, it is easy for the USA as a superpower to intervene in neighboring Latin America to fight drugs. But for Southeast Asian countries like China and Japan, the USA must agree with them first about the efforts that should be exerted to destroy drug factories.

Military intervention

Fighting drugs needs a political decision and military intervention, in addition, of course, to local anti-drug authorities’ efforts. If we want to destroy a plant that grows nothing but toxins, we should eradicate it from the roots, not only at the surface.

The question that poses itself: Is there any country which is benefiting from the status quo regarding drug trafficking? The answer to this question hinges on who is going to make the political decision and when.

I put out this viewpoint to the world and the U.N. (which has lost its significance) so that they think twice before celebrating the International Anti-Drug Day. We all agree unanimously that the USA has the strongest military force and the most advanced technology to play the role of world savior and save the entire world from this epidemic called drugs. It is capable of protecting the American people. But what is behind this negativity in its actions? Does anyone have the answer?

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 18, 2013.


Hassan Tahsin is a veteran Egyptian writer and a regular contributor to pan-Arab newspapers, including the Saudi Gazette. His writing focuses on Middle East conflicts. Tahsin’s political analysis particularly centers on Arab-Israeli relations on a regional level, and Egypt’s domestic and foreign policies, including ties with the Western world. Tahsin can be reached at htahsin-8@hotmail.com.

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