Failing to learn, U.S. ramps up war on drugs - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Failing to learn, U.S. ramps up war on drugs

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Posted: Sunday, March 29, 2009 8:39 pm | Updated: 1:22 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Our View: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has received a minor flurry of criticism this week for acknowledging that the United States - or at least some people in the United States - bears some responsibility for the explosion of drug-law-related violence in Mexico that has left more than 7,000 Mexicans dead since January 2008.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has received a minor flurry of criticism this week for acknowledging that the United States - or at least some people in the United States - bears some responsibility for the explosion of drug-law-related violence in Mexico that has left more than 7,000 Mexicans dead since January 2008. The trouble is that she doesn't seem to be prepared to follow her comments to anything close to their logical implications.

"Clearly what we've been doing has not worked," Clinton told reporters on her plane at the start of a two-day visit to Mexico. "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police, of soldiers and civilians." She added that "neither interdiction (of drugs) nor reducing demand have been successful."

Clinton is only partially correct. It isn't "our" insatiable demand but the demand of a small subset of the population that fuels the drug trade, but that fuel amounts to $15 billion to $25 billion a year. With the vast profits that prohibition makes possible, the Mexican drug gangs are tapping into the international black market in military weaponry. Inspecting a few more vehicles crossing into Mexico won't stop that trade.

Having acknowledged the enormity of the problems created by the effort to enforce drug laws through military methods, what is the U.S. government prepared to do about it? Well, a waggish definition of insanity is continuing to do what you have been doing and expecting different results, and that seems to be what the U.S. government has in mind.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said last week the government will send 500 more Border Patrol agents to the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, step up inspection of vehicles going both ways across the border and send another $66 million to the Mexican government. Good luck with that.

The war on drugs creates more victims than the drugs themselves do, including plenty of innocent bystanders. When a policy fails, it's time to consider changing it. The chaos in Mexico, which already has seeped into Arizona, should be sufficient impetus.

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