What Others Are Saying

May 15, 2007

In Washington, there's a sense that many issues regarding the war in Iraq will come to a head in September. The month was specifically referenced 15 times by Tony Snow and White House reporters at the press secretary's Thursday briefing. In September, members of Congress will be returning from their long August recess, when they will have heard from constituents.

September is the end of the federal fiscal year, and soon after that, the Bush administration will have to submit another war-funding bill under vastly changed political circumstances. Most important, in September, the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, is to submit a report on the progress of the war and the Baghdad security plan. That report is assuming steadily greater importance. Mr. Bush seemed to acknowledge as much last week when he said, "My attitude toward Congress is, `Why don't you wait and see what he says? Fund the troops and let him come back and report to the American people.'"

It may be overstating matters only slightly to say that how long the United States stays is now in General Petraeus' hands.

- Rocky Mountain News (Denver)

In Europe, the appetite for cocaine is so powerful that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's chief likened it to the 1980s cocaine craze in America. Africa's porous borders and weak police presence have made it a tempting hub for Colombian cocaine cartels moving drugs into the expanding European market. And Afghanistan's hefty opium poppy production hit a record high last year.

If you thought the global war on terrorism was tough, the war on drugs is next to impossible.

And it's no better here in America, home to 4 percent of the world's population but responsible for the consumption of two-thirds of its illegal drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Things clearly are not going well for the war on drugs. It's time to retool, or at least rethink, the U.S. strategy, the linchpin of which has been a $5 billion effort to fight the drug industry in Colombia. Plan Colombia, based on combating the drug problem at its source, was a reasonable tactic. Colombia supplies 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in America and much of the crop abused worldwide. And the effort has had some success.

But it's not enough. America, and the world, needs a fresh approach because never has the global fight against drugs, which are used to finance terrorist activity, been more essential.

- Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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