Remarks at a White House Meeting for the United States Ambassadors Conference on Narcotics


November 13, 1986


Well, I know you've traveled far, but I believe that our meeting will bring us closer to overcoming one of the most serious challenges our country faces. And as you know by now, because I know you've been hearing from others, we're waging a battle against an enemy as insidious as any in our history. Illegal drugs have infiltrated our schools, invaded our factories, are terrorizing our citizens, and undercutting our institutions.


I'm encouraged by the progress that we've made since we began 5 years ago, but there's still a lot to do. Yesterday I know Don Regan [Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff] described to you the six goals of our national crusade to lead us toward a drug-free America. I've called for a sustained, relentless effort by every segment of society. We mean to free the user from drugs and to prevent others from becoming users. I believe the American people are willing to make it clear that illegal drug use will no longer be tolerated and are ready to support our fight to rid America of this deeply disruptive and corrosive evil. If this battle is to be won, and it must be, each and every one of us has to make a stand and get involved. Leadership and commitment must be evident, not only in the White House and statehouses but also in Congress, in the pulpit, in the union hall, in our schools, in the media, and, yes, by you, our Ambassadors who represent us around the world. You know all too well that drug abuse is not just an American problem, it's a critical worldwide problem.


Internationally, the narco traffickers endanger our national security by weakening the authority of friendly governments and spewing a trail of terrorism, violence, and corruption. We've seen tragic evidence of that here in the Western Hemisphere in recent times. We're starting to make some encouraging progress. The nations of the world are becoming aware of the danger to their own societies, and many of them are now taking strong action against the drug trafficker -- overcoming what, for many years, was said to be insurmountable cultural, political, and logistical obstacles. There's increased cooperation between nations and a greater sense of urgency by the international community.


Many of you've been at the forefront of this change, and I recognize the dangers you face and am proud of the work that you've done. We have to build on that progress. And we must convey to the rest of the world a sense of our own commitment to win this battle against drugs. So, I'm asking you to take our message back with you. To the leaders of the various nations I'm sending a personal message through with you. We will not tolerate the use or the supply of illegal drugs anyplace, anytime. We mean to have a drug-free country, and we mean business. And I ask each of you to ensure that the fight against illegal drugs is a priority of your mission. Let there be no doubt that the priority is real. We'll be doing our part here at home, and I hope that you'll seek every opportunity to give visibility to U.S. antidrug efforts. I know that as other countries realize the extent of our activities, they'll also find it easier to take the right steps to fight drugs.


And finally, we must offer a helping hand. Although each country has the responsibility, both to its own people and as international citizens to eradicate this evil within its own boundaries, no one country can win this battle alone. We want all nations to join with us in this and make it a global crusade. And when we stand together united and committed to this cause, I think we represent a powerful force for humanity. And when that happens, there'll be no sanctuary on Earth for those who were pilfering human dignity and pandering despair. So, I'm counting on all of you, and I'm looking forward to hearing your views now. Maybe you've heard enough from all of us at this side.


Note: The President spoke at 1:35 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. United States Ambassadors to 19 countries and to our United Nations Missions in New York and Vienna attended the 2-day conference, which was held at the White House.