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Drug War Politics: The Price of Denial [Paperback]

Eva Bertram , Morris Blachman , Kenneth Sharpe , Peter Andreas
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 15, 1996 0520205987 978-0520205987
Why have our drug wars failed and how might we turn things around? Ask the authors of this hardhitting exposè of U.S. efforts to fight drug trafficking and abuse. In a bold analysis of a century's worth of policy failure, Drug War Politics turns on its head many familiar bromides about drug politics. It demonstrates how, instead of learning from our failures, we duplicate and reinforce them in the same flawed policies. The authors examine the "politics of denial" that has led to this catastrophic predicament and propose a basis for a realistic and desperately needed solution.

Domestic and foreign drug wars have consistently fallen short because they are based on a flawed model of force and punishment, the authors show. The failure of these misguided solutions has led to harsher get-tough policies, debilitating cycles of more force and punishment, and a drug problem that continues to escalate. On the foreign policy front, billions of dollars have been wasted, corruption has mushroomed, and human rights undermined in Latin America and across the globe. Yet cheap drugs still flow abundantly across our borders. At home, more money than ever is spent on law enforcement, and an unprecedented number of people—disproportionately minorities—are incarcerated. But drug abuse and addiction persist.

The authors outline the political struggles that help create and sustain the current punitive approach. They probe the workings of Washington politics, demonstrating how presidential and congressional "out-toughing" tactics create a logic of escalation while the criticisms and alternatives of reformers are sidelined or silenced.

Critical of both the punitive model and the legalization approach, Drug War Politics calls for a bold new public health approach, one that frames the drug problem as a public health—not a criminal—concern. The authors argue that only by situating drug issues in the context of our fundamental institutions—the family, neighborhoods, and schools—can we hope to provide viable treatment, prevention, and law enforcement. In its comprehensive investigation of our long, futile battle with drugs and its original argument for fundamental change, this book is essential for every concerned citizen.

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Drug War Politics: The Price of Denial + Drug Wars and Coffeehouses: The Political Economy of the International Drug Trade
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Editorial Reviews Review

The use of illegal drugs should not be treated as a crime, but as a public health problem, argue Eva Bertram, Morris Blachman, Kenneth Sharpe, and Peter Andreas. Though the idea is hardly new, Drug War Politics revitalizes public debate over whether tax dollars are better spent suppressing drugs and pushers or rehabilitating addicts. Through interviews with health-care specialists, law enforcement officials, and drug users, the authors--who constitute a drug policy think-tank--illustrate that America's war on drugs must be revamped before it exacerbates the problem.

From Kirkus Reviews

A scholarly attack on America's drug policy. The authors of this tome, all public policy analysts or academics, study the history of the current war on drugs and conclude that it has been misguided from its inception. The question of drug use, they argue, is a public health issue, not the moral quandary that so many politicians claim it to be. Despite their doctoral-thesis-like approach, the authors make fascinating points about America's complex relationship with drugs: In the 1897 Sears Roebuck catalogue, for example, a kit containing syringes and a vial of morphine could be had for just $1.50. By 1914, laws were in place to control drug use. But these early laws did not prevent drug use; they merely restricted it to those who purchased it from a physician ``in good faith,'' and records were kept of all such transactions. This tolerance, however, had worn thin by the Nixon era, and it was at that time, the authors write, that America's real trouble with drugs began. From then on, America has pursued the zero-use goal typified by the ``Just Say No'' campaign. The costly Pyrrhic victory of the drug war has indeed lowered the number of drug users, but the authors note that only casual use has dropped; the number of intravenous drug and cocaine users, who are responsible for 80 percent of the costs associated with drug use, has skyrocketed. The authors conclude that the zero-use model is outdated and that the war on drugs should be refocused to a war on the roots of drug use--poverty, poor health education--and a change in our culture's heavy reliance on licit drugs to cure our ills. Compelling arguments and an excellent use of data make this report invaluable in an election year. (For two more studies of the drug wars, see Dan Baum, Smoke and Mirrors, p. 653, and Jill Jonnes, Hep-Cats, Narcs and Pipe Dreams, p. 728.) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 349 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (July 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520205987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520205987
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,126,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Nation's Drug War Nightmare April 4, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This five year old book is regrettably as relevant as if put together yesterday. The authors deplore the use of mind altering drugs. Eva Bertram and her cohorts, however, are "troubled by a common pattern in public policy: the persistence of unworkable (criminal justice) policies in the face of overwhelming evidence of their failure...It seemed to be conventional wisdom that the reason force had not worked was not that enough had been applied and that the logical response, therefore, was escalation--not reevaluation."
The vice of political correctness is not limited those of a more Liberal temperament. William F. Buckley is cited as one of the few high profile conservatives willing to publicly challenge the Republican status quo. Politically powerful conservatives relish in "viciously attacking and demeaning critics and sidelining pragmatic alternatives. Less zealous conservatives and liberals, many of whom are skeptics or closet critics, have been willing to go along or have chosen to remain silent," add the authors. Democrats such as President Jimmy Carter attempted to redirect our efforts to treating mind altering drugs as primarily a medical problem. The ensuing tidal wave of public outrage severely threatened his political power. George W. Bush won the 1994 Texas Governors race in part by successfully attacking Texas Democrat Governor Ann Richards for the latter's "actively pushed diversion-to-treatment and in-prison treatment programs in the early 1990s."
The authors point out that our country has reversed its original relative indifference to the mind altering drugs of choice. Logically it is difficult to distinguish between the harm caused by alcohol, tobacco, marihuana, or cocaine. Heroin, many studies indicate, is far less damaging than alcohol.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It does not call for repeal, a terrible mistake. June 26, 1999
"Drug War Politics" is an informative work and a must-have for the freedom fighter. Unfortunately,like all other published works except for one, it does not call for the repeal of prohibition. This is a dreadful oversight and it shows just how institutionalized tyranny has become in America.
Calling for reform, legalization, harm reduction etc., simply concedes the "right" of government to prohibit. No such right exists because prohibition laws are repugnant to the spirit of our fundamental legal source: The Declaration of Independence.
I've studied and written volumes on this subject only to discover that the Establishment Curtain makes the Cold War Iron Curtain look like the sheerest of negligees.
If you want the WHOLE truth you must always follow the money trail to its very end. In the case of prohibition you will discover an ever-growing JUDICIAL INDUSTRY that "legally" preys on harmless humans and the taxpayers for $billions annually. This is the best kept secret in America.
There are but two types of crime. Force and Fraud. Self-medication is neither. Either this is a secret kept from America's legislators and judges or they have taken criminal license with our Constitution's Comerce Clause.
Folks, it's time to unshackle our grand juries by making them fully aware of their right to function independently and issue presentments.
Tinsley Grey Sammons
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read on this topic June 26, 2000
By A Customer
This book is much more than the title implys. While it is a through analysis of why the war on drugs is failing it is also visionary in its view of the future. The implications of the next "post drug war era" are explored with a focus on what this means for treatment, prevention and enforcement. Quite simply this book is a must read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars drug war politics April 4, 2009
By Rockie
The book came quickly and in perfect condition. I am using it for a college research paper, but haven't looked inside yet to find the relevant information. I would certainly order future products from this vendor.
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