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The Failure of the War on Drugs: A Comparative Perspective

Dr. Gregory Fulkerson and Dr. Fida Mohammad

After 9/11, Pakistan’s involvement in the War on Terrorism has significantly degraded its
security apparatuses, undermined civil society and, due to rampant corruption and
lawlessness, it has seen its economic institutions fall into shambles. In a situation where the
writ of state is so weak, opening another front, e.g., the War on Drugs, can only be
counterproductive. In this paper we will explore the difficulties encountered when various
countries are expected to fight the War on Drugs as part of the War on Terror. Even those
countries that may be considered as having a relatively high capacity in the form of a strong
state, such as the United States, still find that they cannot win this so-called “war.” Generally,
we view the problem of drugs as requiring a more sophisticated public health, demand-side
solution. In addition, we conclude that attempts to tie the War on Drugs to the War on Terror
should be halted, as this only distracts from the focus of treating drug users. In this paper we
will consider the problems on both the supply and demand sides of the drug problem, using a
comparative perspective that evaluates the state of the literature that is presently heavily
focused on the U.S. only.

Keywords: War on Drugs; War on Terror; Supply Reduction; Demand Reduction