US Rejects Drug Legalization, Insists on Escalating Violence

The recent uptick in drug-related violence in Mexico has been met with the predictable sledgehammer-like martial responses and pledges of harsh crackdowns by Washington. President Obama said the “United States is and will remain a partner in this fight” against drug gangs, and “we are committed to continuing our unprecedented cooperation in confronting these criminal organizations.” At least one part of that unprecedented confrontation is the Merida Initiative, which pushes military-style responses to the drug war. We’ve seen this play out in the latest response to the casino arson that killed over 50 people, with Mexico sending in 3,000 heavily armed federal officers.

Mike Riggs at Reason has been on this like no one else. He recently blogged about the counterproductive measures that have been taken, which have in part resulted in 25,000-40,000 people killed since 2006.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón called the Zeta cartel members who started the fire “true terrorists who have gone beyond all limits.” Yet having already destroyed nearly $13 billion in cartel “assets,” which in a saner world we would call “exports” and not destroy; and captured and/or killed two-thirds of Mexico’s most-wanted list, it seems like there’s not much else Calderon and his handlers in the U.S. can do: Keep burning them drugs, keep arresting them baddies, and pray–in the words of Obama-nominated DEA Chief Michele Leonhart–that the “caged animals” keep “attacking one another.”

He then points to a remarkable statement by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, that the Americans “should look for market alternatives that annul the stratospheric profits of the criminals” instead of simply escalating the war on drugs so that another 40,000 people can be killed (and black market profits can rise ever higher). Calderon elsewhere hinted at support for drug legalization as a way to mitigate the violence, saying he is “completely open to this debate. Not just on consumption, but also on movement and production.” One problem: the regional hegemon who prefers a military solution to everything will not consider such a sensible alternative policy solution. Riggs:

…as the Herald notes, “Resistance is firmly entrenched in the U.S. government and analysts say Mexico is very unlikely to liberalize its drug laws without Washington’s approval.” Perhaps anticipating that Calderón would go soft, a high level State Department functionary insisted last month that the anti-cartel Merida Initiative would continue regardless of who Mexicans elected president in 2012. Hopefully Calderón grows a conscience and a spine between now and then.

Update: See Ted Galen Carpenter on the misguided suggestion that Mexico receive a Colombia treatment from the US, apparently because of its…successes. Also, Glenn Greenwald’s piece for the Cato Institute on how improved a legalized system could get is always a good go-to.

6 thoughts on “US Rejects Drug Legalization, Insists on Escalating Violence”

  1. "Supply & Demand" The elimination of either side terminates the business, period.

    In all fairness, shouldn´t the military war be fought in US territory, after all that is where the problem originated?

  2. Stunning allegations……????????

    "The stunning allegations, published first by Narco News and days after that reported in the US mainstream media, should prompt serious questions about the veracity of the drug war, raising the specter that it is little more than an ugly pretense designed to protect the interests of a powerful elite at the expense of democracy and the mass of people in both the US and Mexico.

    In addition, the Gulfstream II was purchased less than two weeks before it crashed in Mexico by a duo that included a U.S. government operative who allegedly had done past contract work for a variety of US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, according to a known CIA asset (Vega) who is identified as such in public court records. The four tons of cocaine onboard of the Gulfstream II at the time of its crash landing, according Vega, were purchased in Colombia via a syndicate that included Urrego, who, according to Panamanian press reports and Vega, is a U.S. government (CIA) asset.

    And now, one of the top players in the Sinaloa drug organization, who, according to the U.S. government, oversaw logistics for the criminal organization, a job that entailed overseeing the purchase of aircraft for drug smuggling activities, now claims to have been actively cooperating with several U.S. law enforcement agencies since at least 2004.

    Assuming that rendition of the facts is accurate, it sure makes it hard to tell the crooks from the cops in this drug war.

    Narco News previously reported a series of stories following the trail of the Gulfstream II jet, which can be found at this link.

  3. It not about drugs. Its about jobs, jobs, jobs! Think of all the poor unemployed DEA agents if drugs were to be legalized. In a time of stagnant or negative employment growth it does not make economic sense to take measures that will kill jobs. Even in Mexico the war on drugs is acting as a stimulant for job creation. Job opportunities in the undertaking industry are being created as a direct result of the stimulant created by the war on drugs. The war on drugs also fuels GNP growth through the rebuilding process caused the destruction that can be directly attributed to the war on drugs. Mexico is such a poor country it cannot wait for the economic blessing of a catastrophic earthquake, and must take measures that simulate the positive economic effects of such an earthquake.

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