Exporting the Drug War Overseas


Friday, July 27th, 7:00pm

First Church of Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist, Parish Hall

Presenting Sanho Tree, Fellow at Institute for Policy Studies and Director of the Drug Policy Project.


Our jails are filled with nonviolent drug offenders and our militarized approach to combating drugs overseas is destroying indigenous economies and sewing seeds of antagonism toward the US. Our global export on the War on Drugs from Colombia to Afghanistan has resulted in militarized aid to repressive regimes, punished the poor, and provided unintended price supports to traffickers through the economics of prohibition – all in the name of fighting so-called “narco-terrorism”.

It is no secret that current policy ignores the effects of racism and poverty that helps drive the illicit drug economy. In the US, these roots include decaying school systems, lack of inner city and rural jobs, shortage of affordable housing, lack of health care, and social alienation. International challenges include exportation of the “War on Drugs” to Colombia and Afghanistan, “counternarcotics” aid to repressive regimes, and environmental destruction caused by our eradication and fumigation policies.

Why have these policies not succeeded despite hundreds of billions of dollars having been thrown at the problem? Are there alternatives to the current drug war quagmire? Sanho Tree, Director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, will dissect the politics behind these failed policies and suggest avenues for fundamental reform. Mr. Tree advocates for systemic reform by reaching out to non-traditional allies and employing innovative tactics to promote a sustainable, constitutional, and humane drug control policy. He encourages replacing the punitive and coercive “social control” model of drug policy with a public health and economic development model.

Sanho Tree

About our Speaker
Sanho Tree is an international expert on drug policy matters. He is a Fellow and Director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. He has been featured in the ABC News/John Stossel documentary on the drug war which aired in July 2002 and has also appeared on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Mr. Tree is a former military and diplomatic historian; he has collaborated in the past with Dr. Gar Alperovitz on The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth (Knopf, 1995). From 1996-97, he assisted entertainer Harry Belafonte and continues to work as an occasional consultant for him on international issues. He was also associate editor of CovertAction Quarterly, an award-winning magazine of investigative journalism. In the late 1980s he worked at the International Human Rights Law Group. Currently, he serves on the boards of Witness for Peace and the Andean Information Network.

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