Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The White Labyrinth: Cocaine and Political Power

The White Labyrinth: Cocaine and Political Power

Powerful forces work against efforts to control the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States from the Third World.  The potential for conflict and recrimination is built into the situation.  The main consumer countries are poor and predominantly agricultural.  Cocaine traffic in the Western Hemisphere is a particularly serious example of how this conflict of interests plays out. 

 Producing countries and consuming countries each blame the other, and depending on which side they are on, advocate either demand-side or supply-side solutions-controlling the demand of users in the United States for cocaine versus controlling the demand of users in the United States for cocaine versus controlling the supply from South America.  U.S. concerns are fairly unambiguous.  Cocaine imports have increased five to tenfold since 1977 and abuse of cocaine and its derivative “crack” has become a serious social problem in the United States.  The position of producing countries is also clear-cut.  Political elites in Third World countries view antidrug crusades with hostility because they impose significant new burdens and create formidable new challenges. 

The White Labyrinth explains why it is so difficult to take effective action against the cocaine problem.  It looks closely at problems faced by producing countries: the economic and political pressures that make it so difficult to address the problem from a supply-side perspective.  It analyzes the devastating pressure tactics of “coca lobbies” and cocaine trafficking syndicates.  It explores the complex relationships between the cocaine industry and leftist revolutionary movements.  It examines the negative consequences of actions taken by the United States. The White Labyrinth is an in-depth examination of a problem that is of paramount public concern.  It will be of interest to all those concerned with the development of effective policies, from parents to public officials.