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Institute for Policy Studies
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  • September 4, 2011

    Al Jazeera

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    "These cables reveal what is actually happening [with the war on drugs] apart from the political line," says Sanho Tree, drug policy project coordinator at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former diplomatic historian. "They give you some interesting and hilarious data sets."

  • August 4, 2011

    Toward Freedom

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    “The lessons of Colombia are being ignored in many ways. You’ll have mainstream analysts saying Colombia is the model to win the drug war. If Colombia is winning then what are the Colombians trafficking?” drug war expert Sanho Tree, a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., told The Indypendent.

    “Basically, our policy is to fracture and to break up the drug organizations, making them smaller, weaker and more manageable,” Tree said. “And it’s folly. Breaking up those big monopolies … created a huge vacuum for smaller operators to fill, and we can’t track smaller operations, much less disrupt them.” 

  • June 24, 2011

    The Ephoc Times

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    Tree believes that many of the victims are innocent bystanders not involved in criminal acts, but adds that this is hard to verify, since “more than 95 percent ... of the murders are never solved.”

    Indeed, according to Tree, while too many voters still favor “simple solutions ... more and more Mexicans don't believe Calderón's policies will succeed.”

    Tree noted that this initiative “places too much emphasis on a military solution.” He compared it to throwing water on an electrical fire and said that the strategy to “break up and fracture the drug trafficking organizations” is “a very naive one.”

    Aside from the loss of human life, Tree says the “other victim of this war,” is the idea of a social contract—the idea that a government “can provide minimal conditions of security and predictability so that the people can get on with their lives.” There are now “many Mexicans who don't have hope in the future and too many young men who would rather live as a king for a year than a live as a peasant,” he noted.

  • June 17, 2011


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    Sanho Tree, drug policy expert and fellow at IPS, lends an international perspective to an Institute of the Black World Discussion on the War on Drugs. (He appears at 2:16:55 in video.) Tree discusses how poverty and lack of infrastructure in rural, remote areas in poor countries, combined with high demand for drugs in rich countries, drives up the price and creates an economic incentive to grow drugs for the world's poor. At the same time, the prohibition on drugs provides a "price support" for drug "kingpins," allowing them to raise the cost of drugs to those in rich countries.

    "We make these things more valuable than gold," says Tree, "and we wonder why they don't disappear."

  • June 7, 2011

    The New York Times

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    Sanho Tree, a drug policy expert at the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based research group, said the vehicles reminded him of the Monitor and the Merrimack, two American warships that fought the first naval battle between ironclad ships during the Civil War.

    “This is first-generation technology, like the Monitor and Merrimack,” he said. And because the drug business is so Darwinian, he added, with submarines replacing smuggling boats, and light, quiet aircraft replacing heavy, loud ones, the trucks will quite likely mutate to include “shielding for tires, their Achilles’ heel, blast pads in the flooring, up-armoring, et cetera.”

  • June 7, 2011

    KBOO-FM 90.7

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    Bill and Sanho talk about the reasons why the war on drugs has failed to curb abuse while defying empirical evidence about usage. More importantly, Sanho points out, the Drug Warriors fails to grasp why some people use drugs and why most others don't: the lack of means to lead a purposeful life, which Sanho believes would be the greatest deterant to drug abuse.

    Sanho Tree is director of the  Drug Policy Project, which works to end the domestic and international “War on Drugs” and replace it with policies that promote public health and safety, as well as economic alternatives to the prohibition drug economy.

  • May 27, 2011

    YES! Magazine

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    In his work on drug policy reform, Sanho Tree has traveled throughout Latin America and has seen the devastating effects U.S. policies and influence have abroad. He speaks and writes to educate people on the real costs of the drug war—and how we can move beyond it.

  • April 19, 2011

    Oregon Daily Emerald

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    The number one problem is prohibition. Drug prohibition makes these drugs incredibly valuable. And it causes what people are willing to do in Mexico and places like Colombia. They're killing each other to control trafficking over what are essentially minimally processed agricultural commodities.

  • March 21, 2011

    The (Mountain Home, AR) Baxter Bulletin features article “Colombia Is No Model for Mexico's Drug War”

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  • March 17, 2011

    AlterNet features article “Colombia Is No Model for Mexico's Drug War”

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