Monday, December 03, 2007

Rolling Stone: Colombian Drug War Offers Preview of US-Funded Mexican Surge

Those who don't learn from the history of the Drug War in Colombia are failed to repeat it in Mexico. For a preview of what another $1.4 billion may buy in a Mexican edition of "Plan Colombia," see the article from Rolling Stone, "How America Lost the War on Drugs," Nov. 27, on how we spent the last half-trillion (via Strange Attractor):
All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs - with very little to show for it. Cocaine is now as cheap as it was when Escobar died and more heavily used. Methamphetamine, barely a presence in 1993, is now used by 1.5 million Americans and may be more addictive than crack. We have nearly 500,000 people behind bars for drug crimes - a twelvefold increase since 1980 - with no discernible effect on the drug traffic. Virtually the only success the government can claim is the decline in the number of Americans who smoke marijuana - and even on that count, it is not clear that federal prevention programs are responsible. In the course of fighting this war, we have allowed our military to become pawns in a civil war in Colombia and our drug agents to be used by the cartels for their own ends. Those we are paying to wage the drug war have been accused of ­human-rights abuses in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. In Mexico, we are now ­repeating many of the same mistakes we have made in the Andes. (emphasis added)
The whole article is worth a read, particularly for those who haven't been following the foreign policy component of the War on Drugs. The piece confirms my impression, as I've maintained previously that Mexican drug cartels arguably constitute the greatest overall public safety threat from the drug war. I'm increasingly convinced that current proposals for anti-drug collaborations with Mexico precisely risk repeating the mistake of allowing "our drug agents to be used by the cartels for their own ends."

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