Peering out of a darkened window, he waves to his family below as they pull out of the prison parking lot. As he despondently sits on his bunk, his cellmates offer a word of encouragement. This 19-year-old teenager has become a statistic, another pawned victim of the drugging of America. Like so many others, this young man followed a flight path through the world’s drug capital—Colombia. He faces 40 years behind bars for trafficking five pounds of cocaine.
This tragic story is becoming increasingly common for young Americans. Captured in the grip of instant cash, world travel and the excitement of breaking the law, they embark on a journey of narcotic Russian roulette.
Something shocking has happened to America. The morally ailing superpower is the world’s leading drug addict.
As the problem spirals out of control, governmental finger-pointing rests on Colombia, the bastion of global narcotics. America has now positioned itself as the chief counselor and foreign contributor to the Colombian war on drugs, blindly believing that stopping supply will eliminate U.S. demand.
What is the status of the U.S. war on drugs? Where is it leading, and what is the future for America if it fails to win this crucial battle?
U.S. “Drug War”
U.S. involvement in Colombia has been steadily growing. Colombia now ranks second behind Israel in receiving American security assistance. Last year the U.S. provided Colombia with $289 million (three times 1998 levels). In addition, 300 U.S. men and women from the military, Drug Enforcement Administration (dea) and cia rotate throughout Colombia in support of the U.S. assistance program for the Colombian armed forces, police and other security and justice departments. U.S. military pilots fly frequent intelligence-gathering missions over Colombia, and civilian American pilots working as contractors for U.S. government agencies provide direct airlift support to Colombian army units.
After gifting the Panama Canal and its strategic military bases to Panamanian authorities, the U.S. military relocated its southern command to Ecuador. Today, U.S. flights originating from Manta cover the rugged Colombian coca-producing jungles, spraying chemical defoliants to eradicate over 321,000 acres of drug farms. Last year 123,000 acres were sprayed. Already, mutated animals are being born in affected areas, peasant farmers are falling sick, and water supplies are contaminated. U.S. pressure on Colombia to use the powerful chemical Tebuthiuron has met with opposition in Bogotá.
The conflict has increasingly spread to the neighboring countries of Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.
Most cocaine shipments are hidden in compartments of ocean-going vessels or concealed within bulk cargo. Cocaine and particularly heroin are smuggled by human couriers boarding international flights.
Much of Colombia’s drug money is laundered in the United States. Drugs are sold in the U.S. in exchange for dollars, which are then sold to a black-market peso broker’s agent. The agent then deposits the agreed amount of pesos into the cartel’s Colombian bank account, thus successfully laundering the money.
The 1999 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report cited Colombia as producing 80 percent of the world’s cocaine, 90 percent of which reaches the shores of the U.S. In 1999, Colombia’s cocaine production jumped 20 percent. Despite efforts by the Colombian authorities and a sea of U.S. financial assistance, cultivation has dramatically expanded due to increased drug consumption. Since 1995, coca production has grown by over 100 percent. In addition, Colombia’s annual production of eight metric tons of heroin is produced exclusively for delivery to the U.S.
The report also claimed that 85 percent of the heroin seized by federal authorities in the northeastern U.S. originates in Colombia. This year alone, Colombian authorities have reportedly seized over 70 tons of cocaine.
Forty percent of Colombia (an area roughly the size of California) is presently under the control of the country’s Marxist terrorist faction, farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Since the 1960s, farc and other guerrilla groups have waged a bloody civil war against the Colombian government. However, these groups lack the military strength and popular support to overthrow the Bogotá government. Over 1.5 million Colombians have been displaced by the conflict, fleeing to neighboring countries.
Recent peace talks have yielded little fruit, with both parties accusing each other of cease-fire violations and human-rights abuses. With much of farc’s income generated by the narcotics trade, the conflict has reached a fever pitch.
On top of everything else, Colombia is on its hands and knees trying to climb out of its worst economic crisis since the 1930s.
At the urging of the U.S. State Department Under-Secretary Thomas Pickering, Colombia’s President Andres Pastrana recently proposed “Plan Colombia,” a $7.5 billion gamble. Colombia has pledged $4 billion, asking the U.S. and European Union for the remainder. Europe remains hesitant, as it sees the military aspect of the plan as jeopardizing the region’s security. The United Nations has warned that the effects of Plan Colombia could inject over 30,000 Colombian refugees into surrounding countries.
On July 13, President Clinton signed into law a bill that will provide $1.32 billion for counter-drug activities in South America. In October the money started flowing; 65 percent of it goes to Colombia, 81 percent of which is slated for law enforcement (military, police, judicial). Plan Colombia is framed around “Push Into Southern Colombia,” a Colombian Army operation in which three newly created, U.S.-trained battalions are to create secure conditions for police anti-drug activities in the guerrilla-dominated southern sectors of the country. The deal also includes the donation of 60 U.S.-built combat helicopters, 18 Blackhawks, 30 Super Hueys and 12 standard Hueys. Congress has stipulated a limit of no more than 500 troops and 300 contractors present in Colombia at one time. However, if U.S. troops are involved in hostilities, the troop cap may be exceeded.
Fears still remain in certain corridors on Capitol Hill over this Colombian gamble becoming another Vietnam-style engagement. Some saw the “potential ‘slippery slope’ in Colombia and argued that greater resources should be directed toward domestic efforts to reduce demand and consumption of illegal narcotics” (Current History, February 2000).
Once again, today’s baby boomer policy makers have ignored the lessons of history. Pushing for change abroad, they fail to see the malignant cancer at home. The latest initiative of training, supplying and support for Colombia and other Latin countries highlights past U.S. failures in the Andean theater, and positions the U.S. for another costly and disappointing international excursion.
As Colombian President-elect César Gaviria said in July 1990, “The demand for drugs is the engine of the trafficking problem. If the United States and the industrial countries don’t get a way to reduce consumption, we will not solve the problem. It doesn’t matter how much we work against the trafficking of drugs, how many lives we lose. It doesn’t matter how great our effort, the problem will be there. The United States and industrialized countries need a way to reduce the consumption of drugs” (Cocaine Politics, p. 192; emphasis mine).
Cause and Effect
As an unofficial ambassador for world peace, the late Herbert W. Armstrong would often say, “There is a cause for every effect.” There is a cause for the state of the world today.
The causes of the huge U.S. drug problem are deeply connected to moral decline. America’s craving for drugs is what causes demand. Eliminate demand and the market dies. Eliminate the cause and you’ll eliminate the effect.
The American way of life has simply produced a huge vacuum in many of its people’s lives which they foolishly seek to fill by the quick thrill of illegal drugs.
However, today the United States is in denial. The U.S. market receives the majority of its cocaine and heroin from foreign countries. The U.S. creates the demand, while the foreign countries are the supply. America refuses to face the root cause of a national epidemic spiraling out of control. Leading the world in its demand for chemical escapism, over 77 million citizens have sniffed, smoked, swallowed or injected themselves with drugs. Twenty-two million identify themselves as regular users. Since 1988 there have been over 15 million arrests for drug-related offenses. At the same time there have been increases in seizures of tons of heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, in its 1999 household survey, claimed that 10.9 percent of youth age 12 to 17 are regular drug users. Drugs appear on suburban streets, school playgrounds, college campuses, night clubs, malls, office complexes and in the homes of both the rich and poor. The nation’s teenagers talk of drug cocktails, hell dust, nose drops, smack and thunder. Over 35 U.S. cities are identified as major drug centers. Porous borders with Canada and Mexico have provided easy access for traffickers. In April 1999, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (headed by drug czar General Barry McCaffrey) reported, “In federal correctional facilities, drug offenders accounted for 60 percent of the population….”
The glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry sparkle with a sea of “stars” whose reliance on drugs encourages their fans to snort, smoke and stab themselves along the rocky road to “success.” But this is not true success. It is abject failure!
In his book The Missing Dimension in Sex, Herbert Armstrong addressed the problem. “All physical sensations used lustfully or in a manner of self-indulgence do not prove as physically and devastatingly destructive as certain hard drugs. But in the end they prove just as fatal!
“God gave us humans five senses. He intended them to be enjoyed—to give us wholesome and healthy pleasures! But they also may be put to wrong uses! God gave us mind-power for sensual discernment. He holds us responsible for our conduct in utilization of that mind-power in our human behavior. The way best for us is the way of ‘give’—outflowing love to God and love to fellowman.
“The very purpose of our being is the development of righteous, perfect, spiritual character until finally we may become God beings, immortal as sons of God in the very supreme God family!”
Nation in Denial
America’s new president, painstakingly elected by a divided country, now faces the enormous task of addressing this national scourge. The outgoing two-term U.S. administration has treated the effect but not the root cause of the national drug addiction. Massive amounts of tax dollars have been frittered away in token projects masterminded by the morally corrupt, seeking to point the finger of blame at the foreign countries which supply the unceasing U.S. demand. These huge financial contributions to the so-called war on drugs seem to have done nothing to curb skyrocketing supply and demand for hard drugs.
America’s foreign-policy decisions over the past eight years have illustrated that the leadership of the nation is in denial. Failed campaigns in Haiti, Somalia, the Mideast and Europe have ridden high on the agenda, while leaving the Achilles-heel addiction to be dealt with on the sly.
Neither money nor military intervention will solve the U.S. drug problem. Its root cause is found in the very character of its people.
In June 1998, the Trumpet pinpointed the cause of the drugging of America: “The most vital battle with the war on drugs is being played out, not in some jungle, but on American streets and in American homes. The battle is a brutal one. If we are going to win the war on drugs, we must face the problem here on our own turf.”
America is rotting from within! Casting aside the Bible-based morals upon which the nation was founded, America has found a “better” way—a cheap fix, a way which leads to off-the-scale violence, racial hatred, rape, murder, divorce, pornography, greed, mental illness, sickness and disease—the way of death!
Drugs provide the escape from reality. The effects of cocaine and heroin include a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth and heavy extremities. Mental functioning becomes clouded and drowsiness sets in. But the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy also states, “Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart…various types of pneumonia…. Overdose may cause slow and shallow breathing, convulsions, coma and possibly death.” Those physical symptoms aptly describe the current moral condition of America.
America’s fathers are failing to lead their families, while mothers and children are failing to submit—the structure of the American family is collapsing (Isa. 3:1-5, 12). As divorce, homosexuality, abortion and sexual promiscuity increase, Americans become enslaved to their fleshly lusts (Gal. 5:16-21).
America has rejected God’s law, lost its way in the greedy pursuit of wealth, luxury and material pleasures. People no longer factor God into their thinking (Rom. 1:28). God says America is “full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful” (Rom. 1:29-32).
Until the character of America’s leaders and citizens is restored, there will be no resolution to the cataclysmic drug addiction, which, if left unchecked, will destroy this once-great superpower.
America must make a choice. Either live God’s way and reap the abundant, joyous blessings, or live man’s way of continuous pain, suffering and misery (Deut. 28:1-2, 15). As America turns its back on God and revels in rampant sin, He turns its blessings to curses.
It is time to hear the trumpet warning of this magazine and recapture true values, receive true education and grasp the royal vision of our incredible human potential as part of a coming family government that will usher in the soon-coming World Tomorrow.
The Way to Happiness
Summing the subject up, Herbert Armstrong wrote in his Plain Truth Personal, March 1970, “Occasionally someone becomes angry, resentful, bitter, despising this right way! A hippie says, ‘Cancel my free subscription to your magazine. I thought you were hip—I didn’t know you were square!’ Yes, you bet we are square! We are square shooters—square dealers with others. Show us a way that is better, more practical, for our good, and we will adopt it. But to go the way of the unkempt, dirty, filthy and eyesore, the way of hopelessness, discouragement and frustration, drowning our sorrows in drugs, drunkenness and sex debauchery—no, thank you!
“We’ve found the way to happiness, ambition, fitness, vigor, clear minds, right thinking, anticipation for a wonderful future, and we enjoy this way too much to turn back onto the way of despondency and frustration.”
Mr. Armstrong is right! There is a way to solve the addiction of this morally sick superpower, a way to stop the drugging of America. Did you know that way is open to you? Yes! God is calling on you to change. Stop walking in the way that causes sorrow, pain and suffering and start walking anew in the way that brings joy, peace and happiness.