Drug wars term paper:

Drugs are considered to be among the worst products of the twentieth century, contaminating the lives of youth, and leading them to destruction, violence, crime and eventually death. World nations have decided, in support with international organizations such as the UN, that it is time to launch a war against drugs. The country that suffers mostly from drugs is the US. In addition to the 2000 to 30,000 Americans who die every year as a result of drug abuse, the US also suffers unbelievably high rates of drug caused crimes, violence, and other problems. The US has, therefore, declared itself as the leader of the war against drugs (Pearce 20).

Drugs come from very many different areas of the world, mainly third world countries. Drugs which can be grown almost anywhere such as Marijuana may even be planted in a personal garden, whereas more destructive drugs such as heroin require special facilities and investments. The leading country affiliated with the heroin and trade of other types of drugs is Colombia, in South America (Prager, p.37). Due to the instability of this country, drug cartels have successfully turned wide areas of the country into drug industrial areas, importing what is worth more than $200 million of pure drugs to the US. These in turn may be manufactured there to result in drugs making more than $10 billion a year, and killing thousands at the same time (Scott 28).

The drug war can be seen in two perspectives. In the first perspective lie the consequences of this war on the United States of America. The drug war has so far involved in four major kinds of movements against drug trafficking. First of all, American southern borders are very strictly under surveillance, in a hope to stop the pass of drugs from Colombia through Mexico to the US (Press 21). However, reports from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) show that only 10% of all drugs trafficked into the US are actually caught, which means that the amount is far too small (Press 22).

The US is providing military, economic and political aide to its allies who are involved in the drug war, particularly Colombia and Mexico. However, the degree to which the US can actually rely on these governments is very limited, especially when authority figures, such as President Samper, are directly or indirectly involved with the drug lords (Prager 37).

On another level, the drug war has involved a hardening by the American judicial system against drug traffickers, traders and even users, filling American prisons with more than 1.6 million prisoners at the same time. This attempt, however, is criticized on two basis. First of all, most of those kept in prison are end users or buyers of the drugs, but they are neither traffickers nor drug lords who make most of the money and who are responsible for most of the drug trade in the US and the rest of the world (McNamara 537).

USD Measures on Drugs:

In addition to this, the US is increasing its military pressures and presence in the western hemisphere in order to press the South American nations in order to impose more strict measures against their drug producers. Although the attempt might have worked for a while with Colombia, failure is more than expected, especially as this policy initiates hatred and distrust between South American nations and the United states (McNamara 537).

It can be virtually said that the US is not actually making any use of launching the drug war. Drugs are still flowing into the country, and given the corruption of the police and the inability to reduce the supply, prices have remained very low, attracting more teenagers, poor and others (McNamara 538).

While the drug war can be perceived as a failure on the American side, its consequences are totally different on a country such as Colombia, which is by all means the major source of heroin and cocaine in the world.

The major reasons that have helped the drug cartels and lords become so powerful in the country are include the lack of political stability, poverty, the increase of violence, the inability of the state to prevent fighting, and the corruption within the government (Dudley 26).

For more than a century, Colombia has suffered from continuous civil wars, as the political parties in the country have not been able to reach settlements over their political differences. Moreover, the communist and other leftist guerrillas have not ceased operating in the countryside for over four decades now, making it impossible for the central government to impose its will or to maintain peace and order (Dudley 27).

Such a weak situation has given rise for drug lords to form alliances with the guerrillas and to impose their rule through terror on the countryside. It is also important to notice that the peasants are very supportive of the drug lords because the drug industry provides them with employment and higher standards of living in the absence of the state (Dudley 27).

Recently, especially since the late 1980s, the drug cartels have become so powerful that they began to penetrate the government. Drug lords have influential public officials nominated by them in important posts, such as the police and even in the judiciary system. This makes it almost impossible for the state to limit the impact of these cartels. The US also claims that President Samper has received $6 million for his presidential campaign from the Colombian drug cartels (Scott 29). Samper has refused these allegations and tries to show that he was not conspiring with drug lords by declaring his support for the drug war launched by the US. However, this has resulted in two serious outcomes. First of all, it has not changed the public opinion in the US or in Colombia about the state’s involvement with the drug trade. And secondly, it has increased the rate of violence, not only in the countryside, but also in the cities, particularly in the capital Bogota (Dudley 27).

US Support:

The US is supporting countries that are involved in the drug war, but this support, financial and military, is not sufficient. Colombia, for example, is suffering heavily due to its involvement in the drug war. First of all, the Colombian areas which are involved in the drug trade have all begun to incur economic losses. This is expected, but the problem is that neither the US nor the Colombian government have provided the alternative. Hence, faced by the treat of moving to more poverty, the peasants in these areas are supporting the drug cartels, and this has resulted in the increase of violence in the major cities, claiming the lives of hundreds and thousands of innocent people.  In 1987, members of M-16, a terrorist political organization operating Colombia, and which is financed by drug money, attacked and occupied the Supreme Court in the capital Bogota, leading to the death of more than thirty people, including a number of anti-cartel judges and attorneys (Edwards 34).

The $65 million which the US has granted to Colombia in order to bring an end to drug trafficking covers almost nothing of the total economic costs which Colombia needs to make up for the losses of rebuilding the countryside, estimated at more than $30 billion. Furthermore, most of the financial aid that Colombia receives from the US comes either in the form of military aid or in funds that are absorbed by corrupt statesmen (Scott 30).

The drug war might appear to be a virtue at first, especially that its ultimate aim is to eliminate drug trafficking and to save the world from the evils of drug. However, with a closer look, it becomes obvious that the drug war does not really serve a Third World country such as Colombia in as much as it serves American interests. Drug trade flourishes first and last because of the poverty spreading in the producing countries. The use of violence or other coercive means cannot put an end to the drug trade because the ultimate cause, poverty, still remains. The US can certain make more progress by investing in the development of the Colombian peasantry, rather than by sending weapons to destroy this poverty-stricken sector of society. Yet, the problem of corruption is also a serious problem, not only in the Colombian government, but also in the American police and Drug Enforcement Agency, a serious phenomenon that cannot be overlooked (McNamara 538).

In conclusion, the war against drugs in Colombia and Latin America under the leadership of the United States might in the end turn to be a failing war. The goal of this war is to eradicate the bases of the drug industry in Colombia. However, the weapons used in this war, particularly military and financial pressures may seem to be firing back. The peasants of Colombia are involved in this trade because it is their only means of living, since the government has ignored their development due to the civil wars and other problems facing the country for more than a century.







Dudley, Steven. “U.S. interests stoke the violence in Colombia.” The Progressive, February 1997, v.61, n.2, pp.


Edwards, Richard. International Terrorism. Vero Beach: Rourke Enterprises Inc., 1988.

McNamara, Joseph. “The drug war: violent, corrupt, and unsuccessful.” Vital Speeches, June 15, 1997, v.63, n.17,

  1. 537-538.

Pearce, Jenny. Colombia: The Drug Wars.  New York: Aladdin Books Ltd., 1990.

Prager, Karsten. “Drugs, money, and  a president’s ruin.”Time, February 5, 1996, v.147, n6, p.37.

Press, Eyal. “Clinton pushes military aid; human-rights abusers lap it up.” The Progressive, February 1997, v.61,

n2, pp. 20-22.

Scott, Peter Dale. “Colombia: Washington’s dirtiest ‘war on drugs.’” Tikkun, May-June 1997, v.12, n.3, pp. 27-31.