The Politics of Lying: Implications for Democracy

By Lionel Cliffe; Maureen Ramsay et al. | Go to book overview

7
The 'War' on Drugs

Lionel Cliffe

... this war of lies, hypocrisy, and self-interest, which, like the Vietnam War is being fought with no intention of winning.

The war itself is a fraud. (Michael Levine, ex-undercover agent: Levine, 1990)

In November 1989 President George Bush declared a 'war' on drugs and drug traffic. Many western governments followed suit and the UN set up its own International Drug Control Programme. There was therefore nothing covert about this operation. On the contrary, it was trumpeted from the rooftops. In what sense then does it warrant inclusion in a volume on lying? The above quote would put it in the realm of a 'charade': an elaborate campaign undertaken to give the appearance of tackling a problem. The policy itself and the claims made about it constitute the lie. This chapter will consider how far this interpretation is valid. As the case does not start with a denial, and the aim of the chapter is not to start by uncovering one, the structure will differ from others in the book. It will consider the nature of the policy proclaimed, which was only one of the strategy options available for tackling the problem, and discuss how the policy goal was affected by other agenda, and how implementation was affected by an earlier legacy of involvement of US agencies with drug trafficking.

The particular 'Andean strategy' that Bush's Administration developed had these components: a US-led coalition with governments in the region that attempted to suppress the supply of drugs derived from coca into the US by interrupting it at source, by joint operations of US enforcement agencies with local police or military either by destroying crops in the fields, or by disrupting the first stages in the chain of marketing and refinement in the countries of origin, or those

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