GOP Seeks to Upstage Clinton on Drug Policy

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Congressional Republicans want the electorate to know the GOP is more hawkish than the White House in the war on drugs. Two weeks after President Clinton announced a campaign that focused on reducing not only the supply but also the demand for drugs, the GOP struck back with an old standby: Just say "No mas" -- legislation that would greatly beef up the U.S. presence on the border in order to halt the inflow of drugs.

But by basing their strategy primarily on policing, the Republican legislation cuts to the heart of debates over drug policy. "Attempts to interdict narcotics have taken a heavy toll on American society, but they've failed to end the drug problem," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "Internationally, drug control is moving in the direction of complementing interdiction with education campaigns and rehabilitation programs to reduce demand for drugs, and even financial incentives for impoverished farmers to switch from drug plants to alternative crops." But with midterm elections looming, the GOP initiative may restrain any inclination in the Clinton administration to try alternative strategies.