Pubdate: Fri, 03 Apr 2009
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Bob Ray Sanders
Note: Bob Ray Sanders is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


Mexican Drug Violence Tied To Illegal-Drug Profits In The

Hillary Clinton is right. Right on target. Dead right, if you

Before some of you Hillary haters begin convulsing, hear me

After hearing our new secretary of state's recent comments in Mexico,
I thought perhaps she had overheard a telephone conversation I had a
couple of weeks ago with an obviously upset man. The tone of his voice
- - the tremor of each word - was one of hurt and anger. The caller was
a Hispanic with a deep love for Mexico.

After hearing broadcast reports about the drug cartels in Mexico and
the violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, the man was upset by a
recurring theme in comments from some U.S. government officials.

Some of those officials - and some media commentators - were referring
to Mexico as a "failed state" or on the verge of becoming such.

He had a question: If Mexico is a "failed state" because so much drug
traffic is coming from there, then are Americans a "failed people"
because they are consuming those drugs?

That brings me back to our secretary of state, who visited Mexico as
our country was committing more resources to the border and
desperately trying to figure out what else could be done to stop the
drug trafficking and the increase in related violence.

Clinton said our two countries have a "shared responsibility" in this
devastating crisis, and she concluded that Americans' drug habits and
our failed government policies contribute to the problem we claim to
vehemently despise.

"How could anybody conclude any differently?" McClatchy Newspapers
quoted Clinton as saying. "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs
fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being
illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the
deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians."

She is right.

I said the same thing when this country, under President George H.W.
Bush, ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989 to depose, capture and
arrest leader Manuel Noriega for drug trafficking.

I continue to say: If we knew Noriega was sending tons of drugs to the
United States and laundering money, we also should have known who in
this country was receiving all those drugs and paying for them. If
Noriega was a racketeer, then there also were racketeers in this country.

The same with Mexico.

If there are cartels south of the border, then there are cartels north
of it. Let's deal with them all, consistently and effectively.

Sadly, we do have communities all over this country afflicted by
addiction, and we never can do anything significant about drug
trafficking until we deal with the demand here.

Too often in our "war on drugs," we focus on the junkies and
small-time dealers, leaving the leaders of the "cartels" to stay in

It's much easier to raid a home in some low-income neighborhood and
drag some minor drug dealer out in his underwear than it is to raid
some downtown office building and arrest some kingpin dressed in a
$1,000 suit.

Every time there is a budget crisis, among the first programs to be
cut are drug prevention, intervention and treatment.

If we spent one-tenth of the amount on drug treatment and prevention
as we do on drug enforcement, we would make tremendous progress in
addressing the problem. Yes, we need to fight the drug-related
violence along our border and help Mexico fight the addictive cancer
that's eating at its soul.

But we also must find a way to cure this nation's "insatiable
appetite" for the illegal substances that destroy individuals,
families and entire neighborhoods.

. Bob Ray Sanders is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Saturday, April
04, 2009
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