President Reagan’s Sec. of State Against the Drug War

This is a great piece from a very respectable and influential person.

Wall Street Journal
George Shultz on the Drug War
The former secretary of state has long doubted the wisdom of interdiction.


When George P. Shultz took office as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state in 1982, his first trip out of the country was to Canada. His second was to Mexico.

“Foreign policy starts with your neighborhood,” he told me in an interview here in the Canadian capital last week. “I have always believed that and Ronald Reagan believed that very firmly. In many ways he had [the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement]in his mind. He paid a lot of attention to both Mexico and Canada, as I did.”

Mr. Shultz, now a co-chair of the North American Forum—which pulls together members of the business and government community for an annual pow-wow—is still paying a lot of attention to the American neighborhood.

These days that means taking seriously the problem of drug-trafficking violence on the Mexican border. “It’s gotten to the point that . . . you’ve got to be worried about what’s happening to Mexico, and you’ve got to realize that the money that’s financing all that comes from the United States in terms of the profits from the illegal drugs. It’s not healthy for us, let alone Mexico, to have this violence taking place.”

Mr. Shultz carries weight on this issue, in part because he has been thinking about it critically for decades and listening to our neighbors’ viewpoints. He has long harbored skepticism about interdiction as a solution to drug abuse in the U.S. Those doubts were prescient.

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Mr. Shultz was President Ronald “Just Say No To Drugs” Reagan’s Secretary of State. I like how Mr. Shultz points out that the political space to discuss this issue just doesn’t exist in most cases.

It’s up to us to carve out that space and claim it as our own. The drug war cannot go on forever, even though that is exactly what it was intended to do. We can stop it if we stop being afraid of what our neighbors, church members and co-workers think of our opinion that the drug war is wrong and completely counter-productive to our aims of reducing violence, demand, and addiction.