#273 Rumsfeld Reiterates Supply Side Failure

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003
Subject: #273 Rumsfeld Reiterates Supply Side Failure


*********************PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE*************************

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 273 August 19, 2003

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may very well be the only
person in the Bush administration capable of applying basic economic
principles to drug policy. During his confirmation hearings in 2001
he boldly spoke out against the supply-side drug war, noting that
America’s drug problem is “overwhelmingly a demand problem… If
demand persists, it’s going to get what it wants. And if it isn’t
from Colombia, it’s going to be from someplace else.” More recently,
Rumsfeld broke ranks with prohibitionist ideology once again,
criticizing the supply-side drug war during an August 14th Town Hall
meeting at the Pentagon.

Prompted by a reporter’s question on Afghanistan’s booming opium
trade, Rumsfeld exhibited a clear understanding of prohibition
economics. “You push it down in one country, and it goes up in
another country” said Rumsfeld. “You push it down in four countries,
and the price goes up because there’s a shortage, and the higher the
price, the greater the willingness of people to take risk, the
greatest — greater the willingness of people to buy the kinds of
things they need to hide what they’re doing and to protect them as
they transport these materials.”

Rumsfeld’s answer can be read in its entirety at: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030814-secdef0581.html

Inspired by Rumsfeld, the Boston Globe ran a powerful August 16th
editorial that used key portions of his comments to make the case for
a long overdue shift in drug policy resources. Not only did the
Boston Globe agree with Rumsfeld’s take on the failure of the
supply-side drug war, but their editorial board refused to buy into
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s claim that U.S. drug policy
is “balanced.”

Thanks in part to Rumsfeld’s straight talk, the Boston Globe is
beginning to understand what is wrong with the drug war. Write the
Boston Globe today to thank them for exposing the drug war’s inherent
imbalance. Be sure to tactfully let them know that it’s not a just a
question of resource allocation. Law enforcement and effective
treatment are mutually exclusive. Would alcoholics seek help for
their illness if doing so were tantamount to confessing to criminal

Thanks for your effort and support.

It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


email messages, etc.)

Please post a copy of your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org if you are not
subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list so others
can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit.

This is _Very_ Important as it is one very effective way of gauging
our impact and effectiveness.

Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to
review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or
approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing

To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm
and/or http://www.mapinc.org/lists/index.htm#form



Source: Boston Globe (MA)

Contact: letter@globe.com


Original Editorial:

Pubdate: Sat, 16 Aug 2003
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2003 Globe Newspaper Company
Contact: (mailto:letter@globe.com)letter@globe.com
Website: (http://www.boston.com/globe/)http://www.boston.com/globe/


IN ACKNOWLEDGING that opium production is on the rise in Afghanistan,
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has suddenly enlisted as a
demand-side soldier in the war on drugs — a move that is most welcome
if it spreads to others in the Bush administration. For more than two
decades, Washington’s war on drugs has tilted heavily toward
supply-side strategies: arresting drug smugglers and dealers;
defoliating coca fields; attempting to squeeze off the production and
availability of narcotics.

But this approach has failed in Afghanistan, where US forces and the
US-backed government have been less effective than the Taliban in
controlling the production of opium and heroin.

“My impression is that in a very real sense it’s a demand problem,”
Rumsfeld said Thursday in a town hall question-and-answer session with
civilian and military employees of the Pentagon. “It’s a problem that
there are a lot of people who want it, a lot of people with money who
will pay for it, a lot of people who will steal from others to pay for

As for Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said, “You ask what we’re going to do and
the answer is I don’t really know.”

This shrug of impotence contrasts sharply with America’s aggressive
drug policy elsewhere. In Colombia, $1.6 billion goes into the effort
annually, making it the third-largest recipient of US dollars after
Israel and Egypt. In the end, Rumsfeld characterized drug use as “a
whale of a tough problem. And I’m afraid that the ultimate solution
for that is going to be probably found by attacking it in all
directions, not just the supply side but the education and demand side
as well.”

Rumsfeld’s specialty is military conflicts, but his candid assessment
should be a lesson to those leading the war on drugs. Will Glaspy,
spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, insists the overall
policy is balanced, “combining strong enforcement with education and
treatment. We know we can’t arrest our way out of it.”

Yet the proportion of federal drug funds going to treatment was cut in
half during the Reagan administration and has never recovered. And
with nearly all 50 states slashing budgets in response to revenue
shortfalls, state and local drug treatment facilities have been hard
hit, including in Massachusetts.

Those fighting drug abuse cannot avoid supply. The blooming poppy
fields of Afghanistan — once again the world’s leading supplier of
opium — are a deserved embarrassment to the United States.

But Rumsfeld is right in pointing to the other side of the market.
There will be few victories in the war on drugs until effective
treatment and education lower demand. But Rumsfeld is right in
pointing to the other side of the market. There will be few victories
in the war on drugs until effective treatment and education lower demand.



Dear Editor,

I’m glad someone in the Bush administration is capable of applying
basic economic principles to drug policy. Your excellent Aug. 16th
editorial on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s take on the
supply-side drug war should be required reading at the Drug
Enforcement Administration. It’s not just a question of wasted
resources. The tough-on-drugs approach essentially provides price
supports for organized crime by limiting supply while demand remains

The DEA talks about a “balanced” approach involving enforcement,
education and treatment, but talk is cheap. Using the criminal
justice system to deal with substance abuse makes as much sense as
using a baseball bat to fix a broken bone. I think it’s safe to say
that turnout at alcoholics anonymous meetings would be rather low if
alcoholism were a crime pursued with zero tolerance zeal. Until more
media follow the lead of the Boston Globe and begin to question drug
war distortions, this country will continue to waste scarce tax
dollars on misguided drug policies that discourage effective treatment
– while subsidizing organized crime.


Charles Brent

Please note: The Boston Globe limits letters to 200 words or less.
This is a sample letter only. Your own letter should be substantially
different so that it will be considered for publication.


ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts, Please See:

Writer’s Resources http://www.mapinc.org/resource/



Please utilize the following URLs



We wish to thank all our contributors, editors, Newshawks and letter
writing activists.


Prepared by: Robert Sharpe

= Please help us help reform. Send drug-related news to