Robert H. Dowd – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force

Robert (Bob) Dowd (Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force (retired) passed away on 5 August 2003 in Miami, Florida at age 81. He is survived by his wife Rosemary and two sons.

He will be buried at Arlington Cemetery on 20 September 2003.

He was a pilot, meteorologist, banker and drug policy critic. He flew 50 missions as a B-26 Marauder bomber pilot in World War II, served in the Berlin Airlift, rescue missions in the Arctic, served in Korea and flew AC-47 gunships in Vietnam. He also flew research missions like the B-29 “Flying Laboratory” in the JetStream project which in 1954 expanded to study hurricanes. His weather assignments included monitoring the weather during President John F. Kennedy’s flights and later moniotoring the weather for several Apollo missions in the NASA Mission Control Center in Houston.

Colonel Dowd retired in 1973 and became a bank executive. There, he saw the corrupting effects of illegal drug money and joined the war on drugs. In 1997, he authored, “The Enemy is Us – How to Defeat Drug Abuse and End the “War on Drugs.”

by Robert Dowd

The Washington Times editorial of 6 March 2001, “Rethink Plan Colombia,” muddles the issue.  Colombia does not need a new strategy. Colombia’s problem arises from the United States’ prohibition policy and our penchant to blame our drug problem on the cocaine producing countries.

Drug abuse in the United States cannot be attributed to the coca that grows on the Andean hillsides.  Indonesia was the leading producer of cocaine at the beginning of the 20th-Century and is capable today of producing all the world’s consumption.  Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, during his Senate confirmation hearings in January, said that illicit drug use is “overwhelmingly a demand problem.  If demand persists, its going to find ways to get what it wants, and if it isn’t from Colombia, it’s going to be someplace else.”

Former President Clinton acknowledged America’s outrageous demand for drugs when he stated in 1997: “With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States consumes nearly half of the world’s illicit drugs.” Our government tried to curb the appetite of the few drug addicts in our society in 1920 by prohibiting the open and legal market for cocaine and narcotics that had existed for 144 years without crime, crisis, or catastrophe.

The unexpected consequence of prohibition has been a greater than fourfold increase in the percentage of addicts in the population.  It has also resulted in a significant increase of all the drug-related horrors that our government tries to deter drug abuse, overdose deaths, intoxication, dysfunctional families, cocaine babies, etc.  All American’s have suffered from the stupendous blunder of prohibition.

The government continually repeats the same actions in the War on Drugs expecting a different result.  However, the supply of illegal heroin and cocaine on the streets grows greater and the price declines.  Law enforcement of prohibition is exacerbating the drug problem rather than controlling it.  The government cannot show us a single addict forced from the drug habit for a lack of illegal drugs to buy.

Our government is compounding the mess prohibition made at home with a “Vietnam like” incursion to eradicate coca crops in Columbia.  It has only succeeded in further destabilizing the government that is locked in a 4-decades-old civil war with the narco-guerrillas.  Our actions are impacting the entire Andean region.  Yet, cocaine and heroin still flow from the area to satisfy American’s appetite.

Without throwing anyone in jail, the United States has dramatically reduced the consumption of cigarettes over the past 30 years.  Per capita consumption of alcohol has declined by 10% in the past decade.  This was achieved with education and persuasion, the same methods America used to reduce drug addiction before prohibition.

We have thrown the profits of the drug trade to the enemies of society. Tax revenues that could provide programs of education, prevention, and treatment are forfeited, while antidrug bureaucrats squander billions of tax dollars in a futile attempt to stem the flow of illicit drugs across our borders.

Franklin D.  Roosevelt told Americans in his 1932 campaign, “Rather than combating intemperance, prohibition encouraged its spread.  We have depended too largely upon the power of government action.  The experience of nearly one hundred and fifty years under the Constitution has shown us that the proper means of regulation is through the States, with control by the Federal Government limited to that which is necessary to protect the States in the exercise of their legitimate powers.”

President Bush should learn from FDR’s experience and return the control and regulation of drugs back to the States.  He will find guidance in the evidence from the more effective and less oppressive ways of our forebears.

Lt.  Col. Robert H. Dowd, USAF-Ret.
10480 SW 70 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33156

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