Coletta Youngers

Abstract: This article explains why the “War on Drugs” in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia, conceived by the Bush Administration, has failed so dramatically. The “Andean Initiative” was based on the premise that US military aid and technical assistance to Andean police and military forces could stem the flow of drugs out of Latin America. A reduction in supply would, in theory, drive up cocaine price and, therefore, make it less accessible to the North American consumer. First, this article analyzes the supply-side approach, revealing the fundamental economic flaws accompanying the idea that targeting coca suppliers will lessen the overall amount available for trade. Second, this article explains the flaws in assuming Andean militaries were prepared for US military aid. Particularly in Colombia and Peru, the recipient governments’ focus was placed on battling entrenched insurgencies rather than combating drug trafficking. Also, regional corruption was rampant, making Andean military and police forces unreliable at times. With all the failures that accompany the “War on Drugs,” this article looks towards the future Clinton Administration for possible positive solutions.

Keywords: War on Drugs, Latin America, drug trafficking, foreign policy, Andes

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