Still Pushing the Failed Militaristic Approach to the Drug War

Via Juan Carlos Hidalgo at the blog for the Cato Institute, this graph illustrates how Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s militarized approach to the drug war not only didn’t quell the violence, but reversed the downward trend that had been going on for over a decade.

And now, of course, the violent drug cartels are as dominant as ever. Mr. Hidalgo informs us that now the new president-elect in Guatemala, “Otto Pérez Molina, has promised to deploy the army to fight organized crime,” even explicitly citing “Felipe Calderón’s lead in declaring an all out war against drug cartels.” This, despite the fact that, as he writes, ” instead of placating violence, the deployment of the army helped to magnify it.”

So, what’s the U.S. role in this? Well, as President of Mexico, Calderón has received a large amount of U.S. support, and in fact that support increased sharply after he began his all-too-literal war in his own country. As I wrote about recently, the 50,000 Mexican troops and thousands more federal police officers that Calderón unleashed on the streets to fight the cartels were and are trained and supported by the United States. “George W. Bush backed Calderón’s militarization with a $1.8 billion package of helicopters, police training, and intelligence cooperation,” wrote The New Yorker’s Steve Coll recently. “Obama has continued the program” and “has reportedly sent drones to help Mexico track cartel leaders and traffickers.” And Human Rights Watch just released a report detailing Mexico’s U.S.-supported security forces participating in “more than 170 cases of torture, 39 “disappearances,” and 24 extrajudicial killings since Calderón took office in December 2006.”

The United States has been pushing a military approach to the drug war for a long time. Similarly violent approaches have failed miserably in Colombia, and now there is much news about Honduras being a war zone for paramilitaries and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In Guatemala, the government is also receiving a significant slice of U.S. booty. There, the drug war is ravaging the society, and as entrepreneur and educator Giancarlo Ibarguen recently told, “the war on drugs in the United States [is to blame] for what is happening here in Guatemala.” Despite the Guatemalan military’s ties to drug gangs, State Department diplomats keep calling for more of the same militarized approach. Dialogues in WikiLeaks cables have reveal talk of Guatemala as “an embryonic Colombian situation” which “requires greater assistance.”

I’m with Cato’s Hidalgo here: the new Guatemalan president should not follow the same destructive policies as Mexico. But with all this U.S. influence, I’m afraid we’re in for it anyways.

2 thoughts on “Still Pushing the Failed Militaristic Approach to the Drug War”

  1. An appeal to all Prohibitionists:

    Most of us are aware by now that individuals who use illegal drugs are going to get high, 'no matter what.' So why do you not prefer they acquire them in stores that check IDs and pay taxes? Gifting the market in narcotics to ruthless criminals, foreign terrorists and corrupt law enforcement officials is seriously compromising our future. If you remotely believe that people will one day quit using any of these 'at present' illegal drugs, then you are exhibiting a degree of naivety parallel only with those poor wretches who voluntarily drank the poisoned Kool-Aid in Jonestown.

    Even if you cannot stand the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you, or any government, can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and over a trillion dollars on this dangerous farce. Practically everybody is now aware that Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. So why do you wish to continue with it? Do you actually think you may have something to lose If we were to start basing drug policy on science & logic instead of ignorance, hate and lies?

    Maybe you're a police officer, a prison guard or a local politician. Possibly you're scared of losing employment, overtime-pay, the many kick-backs and those regular fat bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies, vats of acid and marauding thugs carrying gold-plated AK-47s with leopard-skinned gunstocks?

    Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem.

    Prohibition Prevents Regulation : Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

  2. The "war on drugs" has about as much to do with "drugs" as the U.S. Army has to do with preserving "freedom".
    Basically the "war on drugs" is just another instrument of geopolitical control in the Empire's toolbox; another shiny, politically correct lie that appeals to the pathological vanity of the deluded, self-righteous, morally incompetent masses.

    1. Nelson, in many ways, that's correct. Remember that the invention of such "laws" (I use the term oh-so loosely) is to induce guilt in those who disobey them so that they can self-convict through guilt and make it easier for the drug-war profiteers (no intended slight to real profits) and their Pavolovian minoins with their pitchforks to view them as non-humans. Ayn Rand touched on this briefly when one of her characters in Atlas Shrugged discussed the use of the malum prohibitum (laws that do not define something evil in itself, but only the dictate of a bureaucratic despotism) vs malum in se. And let's not forget all of the innocent non-combatants who are robbed, beaten, and killed as a result of these laws and the destruction of so many minority communities. The DEA and FBI and their ilk are the real criminals and destroyers of civilization.

  3. Fact: Marijuana was the most popular drug of the antiwar left-wing during the 1970s, before and after the Vietnam war, and at the time that the "war on drugs" was declared by Nixon's pro-war right-wing party.

    Fact: Nixon made certain that marijuana was labeled a "hard drug" and put on the same schedule as the other hard drugs such as heroin, opium, and cocaine, even though his own scientific research team had concluded that it was a "soft drug" (neither psychotropic or addictive).

    Fact: Without marijuana on the official list as a hard drug, and therefore a major target for the DEA, the DEA would not have been able to justify its extremely high budget.

    Conclusion: The "War on Drugs" was merely a "war on the antiwar left-wing" in disguise. It was a front used by the right-wing government to render the antiwar left-wing powerless and push it out of the government completely.

    Seems obvious given the present state of the United States; at the center of an empire with the MIC the most powerful, tyrannical beast humanity has ever had carrying the whip over it.

  4. Still, people applying for employment in federal agencies are often subjected to the polygraph. And in the governments latest effort to rout out potential “insider threats,” or employees they think may choose to blow the whistle, the polygraph is viewed as an important screening process.

  5. Still, people applying for employment in federal agencies are often subjected to the polygraph. And in the governments latest effort to rout out potential a??insider threats,a?? or employees they think may choose to blow the whistle, the polygraph is viewed as an important screening process.

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