Pubdate: Fri, 27 Mar 2009
Source: Colusa County Sun-Herald (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Freedom Communications
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


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 it fuels it to the tune of $15 billion to $25 billion 
a year. And while Mexican drug gangs do smuggle weapons from U.S. gun 
stores to elude Mexico's strict gun laws, the current issue of 
Foreign Policy magazine notes that since the beginning of Mexican 
President Felipe Calderon's decision two years ago to unleash the 
military against the drug gangs, the gangs' arsenals have come to 
include: "sea-going submersibles, helicopters and modern transport 
aviation, automatic weapons, RPG's, anti-tank 66mm rockets, mines and 
booby traps, heavy machine guns, 50-caliber sniper rifles, massive 
use of military hand grenades, and the most modern models of 40mm 
grenade machine guns."

Clearly, these weapons are not coming from a few rogue gun shops in 
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. 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.

President Obama has said the government will send a few 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.

Maybe it's time to stop the insanity.

The dynamics of efforts at prohibition of substances for which people 
are willing to pay inflated prices predict precisely the outcomes we 
are seeing. Those most adept at violence, concealment, bribery and 
skullduggery are rewarded with enormous sums of money, respect for 
law declines, and civil society is ripped apart.

Last month the former presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico 
called on the United States to consider legalizing at least marijuana 
and focusing anti-drug efforts more on treatment than 
criminalization. That's good advice. 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 threatens to spill across the border any time, should 
be sufficient impetus.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom