Pubdate: Mon, 15 Dec 2008
Source: Advertiser-Tribune, The (Tiffin, OH)
Copyright: 2008 The Advertiser-Tribune


More than 4,200 Americans have been killed in Iraq  since that country
was invaded in 2003. More than 4,000  people have died this year alone
in another war, this  one much closer to home.

Drug-related murders in Mexico - at more than 4,000 for  the year -
are a concern north of the border. They  involve a bloody trade in
illegal drugs flowing into  the United States. Some killings by
Mexican drug lords  have involved Americans, and some have occurred on
our  soil.

This month, the U.S. government released $197 million  in funds
intended to help Mexico fight the drug lords.  Another $203 million is
earmarked for use by the  Mexicans.

U.S. taxpayers have spent billions of dollars - $6  billion to
Colombia alone - in efforts to keep illegal  drugs from reaching our
shores. Though successes in the  campaign are not uncommon, the drugs
keep coming. A  variety of concerns have made members of Congress
leery  of simply writing blank checks to foreign governments  for drug
control programs. One is potential human  rights violations. Another
is whether the money will be  swallowed up by corrupt officials and
law enforcement  officials. The latter may be one reason why the most 
recent round of aid will be in the form of equipment,  such as
helicopters, not cash.

Still, the possibilities for corruption are endless.  Cash not spent
on police equipment because it is being  provided by the United States
can go into the pockets  of corrupt officials, for example.

That makes it imperative that U.S. officials monitor  such aid
programs closely. If our help is being used to  crack down on drug
lords, more of it should be  provided. But if it is simply feeding the
machinery of  corruption, funding should be suspended.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin