If America loses the war against drugs, it will not be for lack of imagination. The State Department has put up $10,000 for an experimental program to recruit a new anti-drug warrior: the Oriental mongoose.

The program is targeted toward Sri Lanka, the island nation in the Indian Ocean that has become a favorite vacation spot for Pakistanis and Arabs. These Moslem visitors traditionally consider dogs to be unclean, and they refuse to let drug-sniffing German shepherds get anywhere near them.These Moslem visitors traditionally consider dogs to be unclean, and they refuse to let drug-sniffing Germann shepherds get anywhere near them.

Sri Lanka's narcotics police are responding by training the island's intelligent, keen-nosed mongooses to take over the dogs' role. That choice shows commendable tact: A German researcher is trying to do the same thing with pigs.