George Bush Sr. on Drugs
President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)
At end of Cold War, re-declared War on Drugs
The end of the Cold War brought some changes, but more in pretexts and tactics in principle. The "war on drugs" was redeclared by Bush with a huge government-media propaganda campaign just in time to provide a pretext for the invasion of Panama to kidnap
a thug who was convicted in Florida for crimes mostly committed when he was in CIA payroll--incidentally killing unknown numbers of poor people in the bombarded slums, thousands according to Panamanian human rights investigators, but there was no
US inquiry: "We don't do body counts," as explained by General Tommy Franks, the conqueror of Iraq. The "war on drugs" also had an important domestic component. Much like the "war on crime," it served to frighten the population into obedience.
The alleged threat was later transmuted from Drugsto narcoterrorism, exploiting opportunities offered by 9/11. By the end of the millennium, total US military and police assistance in the hemisphere already exceeded economic and social aid.
Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p. 56-57
, Jun 1, 2010
1986: Oversaw National Narcotics Border Interdiction System
Drug abuse was the top issue according to the polls. The drug issue led to the 1st use of the phrase "Trade Not Aid." Encouraging 3rd-world farmers to grow legitimate crops--instead of marijuana or cocaine--became part of the
free trade agenda of the administration, and later was the spark for the North American Free Trade Agreement, to which Dad was very committed later during his presidential years.
Dad oversaw the South Florida Task Force, which President Reagan then asked Dad to expand nationally into the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System. It brought together many agencies--Defense, CIA, Customs, to name a few--and later
became the model for one of Dad's first initiatives as president, the creation of the office of the "drug czar." My father's experience from his CIA years came in very handy.
Source: My Father, My President, by Doro Koch Bush, p.207
, Oct 6, 2006
1990: Make fighting the drug problem a top priority
On February 14, before departing for the 1st-ever drug summit in Cartagena, Colombia, in a very real sense, the next day Dad would stand at ground zero with respect to the drug war--not a very safe neighborhood for any president,
American or Colombian. Here in the US, when you mention "the war against drugs," for the most part you are referring to policies--a political agenda.
In Colombia, however, this war involves armed guerrillas fighting, killing, and dying on orders from the drug lords and cocaine kingpins.
Dad had promised to make fighting the drug problem one of his top priorities, and President Virgilio Barco in Colombia had defied the drug lords and become a courageous ally.
Source: My Father, My President, by Doro Koch Bush, p.310-311
, Oct 6, 2006
1989: Convicted Panamanian dictator in drug trafficking
In the beginning of his presidency, Bush seemed unsure of himself on the world stage. "I don't want to make any early term mistakes like Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs," he said. Yet Bush was as fixated on eliminating Manuel Noriega of Panama as
Kennedy had been on eliminating Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Once he was president, Bush took up the cudgels against the drug-dealing dictator. In Nov. 1989 the administration authorized a $3 million plan to topple Noriega by recruiting members of the
Panamanian armed forces to stage a coup. But before the coup could be pulled off, the plan became public. The next month Panama declared war on the US. The US launched Operation Just Cause and invaded Panama on Dec. 20, 1989; 23 Americans and
500 Panamanians lost their lives before Noriega surrendered on Jan. 3, 1990.
Noriega was brought to trial in Miami for 8 counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. He was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.486-487
, Sep 14, 2004
Take my word for it: This scourge will stop
I yearn for a greater tolerance, an easy-goingness about each otherís attitudes and way of life. There are few clear areas in which we as a society must rise up united and express our intolerance. The most obvious now is drugs. And when that first
cocaine was smuggled in on a ship, it may as well have been a deadly bacteria, so much has it hurt the body, the soul of our country. And there is much to be done and to be said, but take my word for it: This scourge will stop.
Source: Inaugural Address
, Jan 20, 1989
Page last updated: Apr 28, 2013