Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America"

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Book review:

"Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's futile war on drugs in Latin America" Edited by Ted Galen Carpenter



I Modest results after thirty years of war4

The war on drugs consequences on the drugs crops cultivation4 The war on drugs consequences on the Latin American opinion5

II The American strategy on the drug war: definitively a bad strategy?8

The United States' strategy on the war on drugs8
The causes of the American's strategy failure9

III Is "legalisation" the solution for a decrease in the amount of drug in the united States' streets 12




"Bad neighbor policy: Washington's futile war on drugs in Latin America", from Ted Galen Carpenter, draws a negative critic (as suggested by the title) of the fight against drugs in United States. Carpenter, who is Vice President for Defence and Foreign Policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, gives clearly his negative opinion on what is for him the drug war failure. This "war" has for purpose to protect the American population against the drug scourge; however this war is mainly set in Latin America. In fact the United States war on drugs began with the entry of Richard Nixon as President in the White house. The year 1968 is marked by the will to eradicate the narcotic problem in United States. Because the supply comes from Latin America, President Nixon decides to cut the supply, by intervening directly in Latin America whether than on the American territory.

The problematic of the book seems to be: What are the consequences of the American war on drugs in Latin America? In fact the consequences on the United States territory are not shown, which should be, considering the conclusion, the purpose of the book.

In this book review, we will in a first part discuss about the global results of this war. Then we will consider the strategy adopted by the American governments and highlighted by the author. Finally we will examine the solution of the legalization, an issue which is brought to the fore by the author.

I Modest results after 30 years of war

Since 1968 and the Nixon drug prohibitionist strategy, the war on drug has taken a considerable interest in the American agenda. Reagan, Ford, Carter, Bush, Clinton, all of them have kept pace with this policy. The drug war has been even more emphasised under the Clinton administration with the Plan Colombia in 2001. However this determination to fight drugs has not been followed by positives results concerning first the crops cultivation, second the Latin American opinion over drugs.

The war on drugs consequences on the drugs crops cultivation

First of all the results of the war on drugs are quite difficult to measure considering the illegality of the issue. Indeed how quantify the importance of drug in the export trade? How quantify the number of drugs crops produced in Latin America? However, some figures are here, but they have to be taken carefully.

Mexico7 0008 6006 280
Colombia4 0004 1334 125
Others 3 5003 5003 500
Total14 50016 44714 407
Bellow are some figures illustrating the evolution of cocaine and marijuana production in Latin America. Those figures are used in the book to show the negative impact of the war on drugs. Those data come from the International Narcotics Control strategy Reports, which is an American organism, the data of this organism seem to have different estimate from the United Nations. The meaning of the number is as well hidden in the book: what are the units of the data?


Source: INCS Report, March 2001, « South America », pp. 6, 17, 28

However those tables show that the results of the war on drugs change within the countries in Latin...
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