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Issues: U.S. Drug Control Strategy

Recent surveys concerning the extent of illegal drug abuse, particularly among American youth, are -- and should be -- very disturbing to us all. But the bad news is not the only news. The past year has shown us more, and firmer, determination than ever before in the entire global community to confront this plague; to protect ourselves, our people and our children from it; and to take up this commitment with the determination that we will not allow these criminals to deal in the destruction of our societies and human souls.
In his address to the 50th anniversary session of the U.N. General Assembly, President Clinton gave voice to the compelling need of the world's governments to protect our citizens. "Nowhere," he said, "is cooperation more vital than in fighting the increasingly interconnected groups that traffic in terror, organized crime, and drug dealing." These challenges, unlike other foreign policy issues, threaten equally the interests of governments and the individual lives of citizens. They sicken and kill, corrode our societies with violence and suffering, corrupt the institutions of established and emerging democracies, impair national economic growth, and threaten our environment.

Our national drug control efforts and programs cannot be considered in a vacuum. By preventing our youth from beginning a destructive cycle of illegal drugs, crime and tragedy, we serve the interest of the world equally. In assisting other nations to more effectively meet their obligations to act against production, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs and related transnational crime, we serve the paramount purpose of any government -- to protect the lives and security of its own citizens.

Our National Drug Control Strategy, and in particular its illicit drug interdiction aspects, are thus not a problem isolated from, or in any conflict with, the most fundamental imperatives of our entire foreign policy. Our basic foreign policy goal is to preserve our national security. Presidents of both parties have emphasized that importation of illicit drugs from abroad is a danger to our national security. Implementing our National Drug Control Strategy, in all of its domestic and international aspects, is one of the vital things that preserving our national security is all about.

I would like to discuss more specifically the nature and origins of the international drug and crime threat, the way our National Drug Control Strategy defines the parameters for this aspect of our foreign policy, and the specific place of drug interdiction, and the Department of State's support for it, in our long-term national strategy against drugs.

THE ROOTS OF THE PROBLEM It is useful to recall briefly that for the two most significantly damaging illegal drugs of abuse, the problem starts with plants that grow outside our borders.

Over half of all the cocaine consumed in the world -- by some estimates, perhaps as much as 80 percent of that consumed in the United States -- comes from raw material grown and harvested in Peru. The coca leaf that is the raw material for the rest originates in Bolivia and Colombia. Hundreds of thousands of poor, small farmers in 1995 grew, processed and sold to drug trafficking organizations raw material enough for over 780 metric tons of cocaine.

In contrast to cocaine, most of whose raw material is produced in only three neighboring countries on one continent, heroin, the next most damaging drug for the United States, is far more global. One country, Burma, is the source of over half of the opium gum, the raw material for heroin, in the world. In 1995, the U.S. Government estimated that over 154,000 hectares of opium poppies produced 2,340 tons of opium gum in Burma alone, making it by far the largest source in Southeast Asia. However, in Southwest Asia, Afghanistan alone produces nearly half as much as Burma. In the Western Hemisphere, both Mexico and Colombia produce significant amounts.

Cocaine once moved fairly simply, from its raw material sources in Peru and Bolivia, through final processing and trafficking centers in Colombia, and onward to the United States. This is no longer the case: cocaine is moving today in far more ways, on far more routes. Mexico has emerged as the single largest transit avenue and we are seeing new routes by way of Brazil to Europe, and by sea and air to East Asia. Cocaine is emerging in eastern European countries once principally familiar with heroin.

Heroin has always had a global market. The world's largest heroin-consuming country today is Pakistan. This development is a tragic demonstration of the fact that drug producing countries inevitably become drug consumer countries. While most heroin seized in the United States in 1995 was, according to DEA, produced from Mexican and Colombian raw material, we find heroin here from virtually all points on the globe.

Cocaine and heroin are still our most dangerous drugs, but they are not the only ones with roots abroad. Recent surveys of growing marijuana abuse among our youth are properly of great concern. Too much marijuana is, unfortunately, grown within the United States itself. But far too much still comes from abroad. Cultivation observed by the U.S. Government in 1995 was below levels of half a decade ago. Aggressive marijuana eradication is being carried out by many governments, including ours. Mexico, Colombia, and Jamaica remain the source of much that flows across our borders.

We have also seen a resurgence of abuse and trafficking in non-botanical drugs, especially methamphetamines. No natural law originates these drugs abroad -- they can be produced anywhere, with the correct chemical precursors. Some of these precursors, like ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, are diverted domestically. All indications are that far more comes from abroad, and that powerful Mexican drug organizations have arranged the large-scale distribution of these drugs on the same transnational basis.

The drug addict on the street of an American city does not go to Peru, Burma or Mexico for his product. He -- and she -- is supplied by a huge multinational agro-industrial complex that is as global, complex and lucrative as wheat, petroleum or any other globally-traded products. Like other multinational enterprises, the illegal organizations that deal in illegal drugs seek to diversify, functionally and geographically, to maximize profits and reduce risk. Colombian Mafia dominance in the cocaine trade allied itself with European and Asian criminals, established mafias and new entrepreneurs that grow to become competitors. Asian heroin traffickers enter the arms and illegal migrant sectors. Nigeria becomes a drug trader to the world. Political liberty in South Africa is accompanied, as I saw myself in a visit last month, by an explosion of drug traffic and related crime that provokes vigilantism which imperils the rule of law.

Not only are our most dangerous drugs of abuse produced outside our borders, but the criminal business enterprises that traffic them to our people live, manage their illegal multinationals, launder, invest and enjoy their ill-gotten profits in other countries.

In sum, the roots of our drug problem lie abroad, as much as at home. The scope of the illegal activities, and the sheer size of the quantities of cocaine, heroin, and other substances illegally traded internationally, both define and vastly complicate defining a drug strategy that can work for our people. The environmental movement counsels to "think globally, act locally." The tragedy of drug abuse is quintessentially an individual local problem, but its impact can be felt around the world.

NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY The guiding principles and context for the global foreign policy, operational and assistance actions against illicit drug production and trafficking are established for the Department of State by the President's National Drug Control Strategy. This strategy includes several elements that are pertinent to this hearing.

The National Drug Control Strategy is, of course, the document prepared by the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and submitted by the President to Congress earlier this year. It defines the five strategic goals, and the specific near- and medium-term objectives, to attain the reduction of illicit drug use and its consequences in the United States.

Three of the goals, and the overwhelming bulk of the funds and effort expended by our federal, state and local governments and the private sector relate directly to actions against the production, traffic and abuse of illicit drugs within our borders. This is as it should be, but it is important to emphasize the fundamental significance that the domestic aspects of our national strategy have for our efforts abroad.

As I have just described, drug trafficking today is a truly global matter. Production of cocaine and heroin occurs beyond our borders, but the transnational criminal industry that organizes and markets the poison depends, like any business, equally on supply and demand. On the one hand, drug production, trafficking and abuse are a shared problem. It is as deadly to the people of Peru, Mexico and Pakistan as it is to the people of the United States. We may offer our assistance to governments abroad, but our unique responsibility begins where our efforts must ultimately end -- in victory over demand for drugs at home. The people of those other countries must depend on us, as we must on them, to deal with a problem that is bigger than both of us.

There is another aspect of demand control at home. The basis of our efforts abroad is to reduce drug imports to the United States. We have in the past heard discussion of whether our goals might not be met more effectively and economically by reducing consumption of drugs at home, rather than acting against their production and import from abroad. When looked at from the standpoint of an economist -- which, professionally, I am -- this is an artificial distinction without a difference. If we cannot reduce demand for illicit drugs at home, the iron laws of economics will defeat all our efforts to eliminate their production abroad. Equally, if we cannot reduce production abroad, all our efforts to control demand will be drowned in growing tidal waves of illegal, hideously addictive substances from abroad. We cannot do either one or the other. We must do both and be successful at both or we cannot do either one. Success in implementing these domestic goals of our National Drug Control Strategy is beyond the scope of America's foreign policy agencies. But we must assure the effort will be made, will be supported, and will over the long term succeed, or our foreign policy goals and the rest of the world will lose as much as we do.

The fourth and fifth goals of the National Drug Control Strategy are the ones which address our government's action at and beyond our borders. While some of the drug interdiction activities addressed by this hearing that respond to Goal IV occur from within our borders, shielding a nation's frontiers demands the cooperation and assistance of the governments beyond them. To respond to Goal V, we must act in, and in cooperation with, the source countries as well as others. Action at a distance is as impossible in economic and foreign policy as it is in physics. To break foreign sources of supply, we must break their production at its roots. For this reason, Secretary Christopher directed me in 1993 to take responsibility for this essential element of our foreign policy.

The 1996 National Drug Control Strategy is a single document. By law, it is revised and reissued annually, but it is a truism that a nation's strategy, in a global sense, is not reorganized from one year to the next, but evolves progressively over time to best serve the enduring interests of the nation and its people. Our current national drug control strategy has its roots in international agreements and undertakings like the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which since 1961 has defined basic relations between governments. By law enacted by Congress, and as recognized in our annual national strategies, the long-term objective of the United States is for all countries, especially major drug producing and transit countries, to meet their anti-drug obligations under the 1988 U.N. Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Drugs, which provides the basic standards of our annual national drug control certification process. Presidents of both parties have for decades continued the long-term elaboration of our international strategic approach to illicit drug production, traffic and abuse.

In November 1993, President Clinton further elaborated on our body of national strategy, in light of extensive assessments that concluded that the danger of illicit drugs to the American people continued to exist and evolve, but that in the post-Cold War reality of tighter budgets, emerging democracies, and accelerating international trade and communications, new approaches were essential. The President confirmed that international narcotics trafficking is a national security threat. On a global basis, the President directed that we strictly employ the annual certification process established in the Foreign Assistance Act to advance our drug control goals, and that we enhance our efforts to enlist participation by other bilateral and multilateral donors in support of projects or activities significant to drug control goals.

With regard specifically to cocaine in the Western Hemisphere, this directive shifted the primary emphasis of our effort, diplomatically and operationally, to the source countries. Only in those countries can our efforts strike directly at the roots of cocaine production. This did not imply abandonment of efforts to interdict cocaine flow in the transit zone, but sought with political realism to direct limited resources in the manner that best served our long-term strategic goals.

In October and November 1995, the President again enlarged and unified our global strategic concepts. He issued a new directive on our policy toward the far more diffuse and intractable problem of heroin. He placed the United States in the forefront of international efforts to respond to organized crime and directed concerted United States' international efforts to act against all aspects of the money laundering and other transnational criminal activities that are increasingly indistinguishable from the organizations that traffic in drugs.

Let me review briefly some of our efforts, with specific reference to the continuing role of interdiction programs and our support for them.

INTERNATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL STRATEGY The responsibilities that rest upon the Department of State, and specifically on its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to implement international aspects of the National Drug Control Strategy, are great, and diverse. We must address international policy and diplomacy and coordinate and secure international support for operational activities relating to drug control of many U.S. Government agencies abroad. We also directly manage the International Narcotics Control program to assist in developing the institutional capabilities of other governments to define and implement comprehensive national drug control plans.

A. Policy and Diplomacy

In the past few years, the imperative need for a coordinated international response to drug trafficking and related international crime has been more generally recognized by the world's governments than ever before. The United States has been a leader in providing impulse and definition to this consensus.

The Summit of the Americas in December 1994 declared the policy commitment of the leaders of the democratic American governments to act effectively against drug trafficking, money laundering and related transnational crime. In December 1995, Treasury Secretary Rubin was co-chairman of a ministerial meeting that amplified the Summit political commitment with specific initiatives agreed to by the governments to control money laundering. We hope this month, in the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the OAS, to complete agreement on the text of a hemispheric counternarcotics strategy for the 21st Century that will be compatible with and support our own National Strategy goals.

The informal international consultative group on drug control of industrialized democracies, the Dublin Group, has become an instrument to coordinate activities, exchange information and evaluate circumstances in areas from South America, Central America and the Caribbean, to Eastern Europe and the NIS. Other developed countries, such as Germany and Italy, are taking on leading roles in promoting drug control goals in Europe and Asia.

Our own annual drug control certification process has become one of the most visible and important elements in raising the international profile and consciousness of drug control issues. It is no secret that many other governments object to this process. However, we will continue to implement it as a balanced, serious and effective way to advance our drug control interests. We will use it as an honest, objective process for making the sorts of judgments all governments must make -- whether other nations are acting effectively on an issue that is as significant to their own long-term security as it is to ours. The fundamental element in this process is the extent to which governments are acting to comply with obligations they, and we, have accepted under the 1988 U.N. Convention, to prevent all forms of production, traffic and abuse of illicit drugs or substances of abuse. No nation can afford to evade these responsibilities, or ignore it if others do so. We must continue to hold each other to the highest possible standards.

B. Operational Activities

The manifold aspects of illicit drug trafficking touch many departments and agencies of the Federal government, and many of their programs and activities include support for operations outside the United States. The Department of State has supported, coordinated and sought to secure the cooperation of other governments in these fields.

In the case of Mexico, our drug-control interests require the bilateral interaction of virtually every Mexican and American federal, state and local agency along our common border. ONDCP Director McCaffrey has led the U.S. Government in a national effort which has secured unprecedented new avenues of cooperation with Mexico. Through the High-Level Contact Group which he leads, effective exchanges of information and cooperative drug control activities have reached an extent unprecedented in our relationship. At the same time, President Zedillo has led his government to confront the institutional debilitation and corruption that have impaired Mexico's ability to act against drug trafficking and related crime. The threat on that side of our border remains important, complex and difficult. But our policy focus and practical cooperation with Mexico to combat the drug threat has reached an unprecedented level.

In response to the President's strategic directives on drug trafficking and crime, the United States has for the first time implemented and coordinated action by its law enforcement and policy agencies to employ the President's authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to impose sanctions directly on persons or businesses connected with or involved in drug trafficking. The Department of State has invoked its legal authorities to deny or revoke visas of persons involved with drug trafficking to prevent them and their families from entering the United States. In a very practical way, we are demonstrating that we will not tolerate traffickers or those who cooperate with them, not even someone who holds high political office in a friendly, allied democratic country.

Beyond the Western Hemisphere, we have cooperated closely with the Department of Justice and FBI to establish an International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, which is becoming a focus of training and cooperative law enforcement efforts in Eastern Europe. I am leading an interagency effort to define an effective East Asian strategy to respond to the challenges there of heroin trafficking and related crime. We have taken the initiative to review our criminal justice and drug interests systematically with Nigeria and to initiate a dialogue with South Africa.

Such activities entail no transfers of funds, but they organize the collective capabilities of the United States and other governments in ways that respond powerfully to drug traffic and international crime.

C. Narcotics Control Assistance

In addition to its diplomatic and operational activities, my Bureau is directly responsible for implementing the International Narcotics Control program under the Foreign Assistance Act. This program responds directly to the guidance of the President's directive of November 1993, and of the National Drug Control Strategy, to support the development of institutional capabilities of other governments which have shown the political will to act against drug production and trafficking.

This program funds a wide range of bilateral and multilateral activities to meet National Strategy objectives throughout the world. The National Strategy assigns top priority to action against cocaine production in South American source countries. Bureau projects seek to reduce the scope of coca cultivation, disrupt smuggling of cocaine out of major production areas, and dismantle the transnational organizations of Colombian and other drug traffickers that finance and manage international trafficking. INL is resuming assistance to enhance the capabilities of Mexican institutions to act against what is currently the most significant transit route.

Our programs in Asia respond to the President's November 1995 heroin control directive and related elements of the National Strategy to enhance other governments' capabilities to bring law enforcement efforts to bear against principal heroin trafficking organizations, and to promote the U.N. Drug Control Program, as well as multilateral and other bilateral programs to reduce opium poppy cultivation. Through training, information sharing and institutional development on a global basis, we work to strengthen enforcement actions oriented against Asian organizations affecting the United States.

The international narcotics control program by itself does not -- cannot -- finance the global effort against drug production and trafficking. It is not intended to, nor is it a "carrot" or bribe to other governments to act against drug trafficking. We cannot match funds with these multinational criminal enterprises. Nor should we. Other governments ultimately must, and will and can, act to prevent production, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs for their own reasons, not ours, to protect their own people and national interests.

When that political will exists, our limited material, financial and technical assistance can have a disproportionate effect to magnify the actions of other governments' institutions against drug production and trafficking. Today, more than ever before, the will, we believe, exists.

INTERDICTION PROGRAMS Our National Drug Control Strategy clearly recognizes that interdiction of illicit drugs remains an indispensable and integral part of our national effort. These programs are an important, visible demonstration of our nation's will to fight drug trafficking. They have symbolic value as a demonstration of national will. In addition to intercepting and seizing illicit drug shipments, these activities serve as a deterrent, increasing the costs and risks of smuggling drugs into the United States.

Our National Strategy also recognizes that interdiction is difficult, especially along our borders. For this reason, it calls for a comprehensive, intelligence-based approach to federal air, maritime and land interdiction, and establishes the special role of the United States Interdiction Coordinator, appointed by the Director of ONDCP.

The Department of State is not, as such, an interdiction agency. It does not itself run large interdiction operations. The Department has taken many actions and supported many programs and projects that have contributed importantly to the success of interdiction programs and the agencies that fund and operate them.

International narcotics control funding support has been important to sustain cooperative actions by the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands under OPBAT and with other Caribbean nations and territories in operations like Caribe Venture and Caribe Storm. Similarly, funding has sustained the Caribbean basin-wide Joint Information Coordination Center or "JICC" program in cooperation with the U.S. Government's El Paso Intelligence Center. This support was instrumental to the interdiction success in Guatemala of Operation "Cadence," in which Guatemalan authorities in cooperation with DEA virtually hounded cocaine transit activities out of the country. The Department of State, in conjunction with DOD, the Coast Guard and DEA, has promoted establishment of maritime counterdrug agreements in the Caribbean region which give U.S. enforcement agencies rapid access to suspected drug trafficking vessels, and encourage cooperation by other government authorities in these efforts.

These activities, along with our strong support of collaboration in Mexico, directly support the interdiction programs that respond to our National Strategy Goal IV. Farther from our borders, as part of our efforts to break production of cocaine on a long-term basis in the source countries, and in response to the President's policy of November 1993, the Departments of State and Defense, the U.S. Customs Service, Coast Guard, DEA and other agencies have also extended our support selectively to limited, cost-effective efforts by the source countries to interdict cocaine exports or movements among them.

This class of U.S.-supported source country interdiction has a fundamentally different strategic purpose. Our border and non-border interdiction programs are the right and responsibility of any government to protect its borders and its citizens. Our support of source country interdiction efforts is not intended to simply seize drugs or arrest smugglers. It is intended more strategically to attack the economic activity of the illegal drug industry within the source countries themselves, to so disrupt the drug industry as to make it possible on a long-term basis to reduce and eliminate cocaine production at the source.

The Congress has participated directly and importantly in this aspect of our international efforts by approving legislation in 1994 which authorized the President, subject to appropriate safeguards, to make available to selected source countries the benefits of U.S. interdiction technology, intelligence and skill. Since December 1994, we have cooperated directly to support actions by Peruvian and Colombian authorities to interdict exports of semi refined cocaine base by air from Peru to Colombia.

This effort enjoyed success beyond expectations, and out of proportion to the relatively limited U.S. support involved. Cocaine flows by air identified as moving from Peru to Colombia are half or less than half the comparable levels observed in 1994. Traffickers' inability to make "just-in-time" export flights created local oversupplies at the production points, which caused prices paid to primary growers to drop precipitously to levels half or less than half of those of a year or two ago. Many farmers claimed that they were no longer able to make a living and would abandon growing coca. We do not yet know -- but we think in some cases this really happened.

THE ROAD AHEAD As General McCaffrey -- and who should know better -- has so aptly reminded us, protecting our nation and people from illicit drug abuse and its consequences is nothing so simple as a war. In the cocaine source countries, selective, limited air interdiction has proven strikingly effective in economic terms in those countries. It is thus, in our view, a highly important element of our long-term strategic goal to break the foreign source of cocaine supply by breaking production at its roots.

We do not contend that these programs in the source countries will reduce cocaine supply in the U.S. directly by the drugs they seize or destroy. This is not our intent. In the source countries, our long-term strategic objective is not cocaine flow. Rather, it is to break the production cycle, once and for all.

As to our more significant interdiction activities near and at our borders, these have their own strategic purpose as a national strategy goal. We support that purpose, and will continue to make every effort, within the constraints of resources available to us, to motivate and sustain cooperative efforts by other governments that conform with our goals and support our interdiction agencies, their activities and their officials.

However, these programs are also only one element of part of a response to one of five interrelated elements of our comprehensive national strategy. No single part of the strategy alone can solve the large problem that we face. At the same time, international efforts to break the production of cocaine and other illegal drugs at their source are a key to our ultimate victory. Similarly, our national border and transit zone interdiction activities can contribute importantly to our comprehensive strategy designed to end, once and for all, the tragedy of illegal drugs in our nation.

Mr. Chairmen, we know there are no quick and easy solutions and new challenges arise every day. Ultimately, the battles we face cannot be won unless we work together -- the U.S. law enforcement and diplomatic communities, the U.S. and other nations. The threat today requires a new era of cooperation. And if -- as we are beginning to do -- we can work to eliminate safe havens for criminal fugitives and their money and improve law enforcement and drug control cooperation among nations, we can make great progress.

In our President's words, "More and more, problems that start beyond our border can become problems within our borders. No one is immune to the threats posed by rogue states, by the spread of weapons of mass destruction, by terrorism, crime and drug trafficking, by environmental decay and economic dislocation."