New drug policy may be more of the same

Regarding "Drug war's marching orders" (Feb. 14, Editorial): George W. Bush says he'll stop 25 percent of America's drug use in five years? Lest we forget, we were promised a "drug-free America by 2002" at a Capitol Hill press conference in 1998. In fact, we've been promised the chimera of a "drug-free America" quite a number of times. Mr. Bush's policy hardly represents a change in course. His drug budget is the "same old, same old" and the results will be, too.

Dave Michon Eau Claire, Wis.

The tactic of the present drug laws is to ignore the root cause of drug use in favor of trying to remove the effects through criminalization. This has failed miserably. What's needed is a concentrated effort to address the "reasons" people use drugs. Criminalization of drug use only magnifies the guilty feeling and lack of self-esteem already existing. We need to repeal the drug war laws in favor of education and decriminalization and teach our children self-esteem so they can become active members of their communities and interface successfully with their peers. We need to concentrate on the cause, not the effects.

Darrell J. Sekin
Irving, Texas

Our nation has to quit its campaign of "drugs don't feel good" nonsense. We must use science to target education and intervention to meet the needs of young people. Showing them that drugs are morally wrong and that they ruin the environment and destroy communities is probably more effective than trying to send them the message that drugs don't feel good. And we must also stop sending the message that cigarettes and alcohol are different issues.

Helen Harberts
Chico, Calif.

Regarding "In drug treatment vs. prison, a political shift in tone" (Feb. 14): It's important for us to realize that we shouldn't choke our prisons with people who should be in rehabilitation. Those who know people with a drug problem need to feel assurance that if they report their friend it will mean that friend will receive the help he or she needs. We can't expect friends and family of drug users to cooperate while we threaten their loved ones with brutal confinement, where their addiction will be ignored and untreated.

Nathan Engle
Bloomington, Ind.

Letter from Ukrainian Ambassador

"Ukraine: Look into arms exports" (Feb.12, Opinion) refers to "allegations made by Italy and Russia about illegal Ukrainian arms exports," in particular to the Taliban movement in the mid-1990s, and blames Ukraine for unwillingness to investigate. Both assertions are inaccurate. Ukraine is fully cooperating with Italy in investigating the circumstances of a shipment of weapons to the Balkans in 1994 (so far, there's no mention of the Taliban in this case).

Meanwhile, the statement by a Russian parliamentarian two months ago about supplies of weapons from Ukraine to the Taliban was politically motivated and on the next day was disproved by the Russian ambassador to Ukraine, who called it fiction.

What is true: Ukraine has developed, with substantial involvement and assistance from the US, a sophisticated and efficient system of export control that meets the highest international standards and makes Ukraine a reliable partner in the fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and prevention of illegal-arms transfers.

All requests from our partners to check on allegations of violations of international obligations in the sphere of export control have been thoroughly investigated by the respective Ukrainian authorities. So far, none of those allegations has proved to be true.

Kostyantyn Gryshchenko

Ambassador of Ukraine to the US

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