Smoke, Mirrors & The Drug War

Smoke, Mirrors & The Drug War
Posted by FoM on March 06, 2000 at 15:53:59 PT
Source: Chicago Tribune
Give credit to Jeffrey Davidow, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, for his candor last week on the narcotrafficking problem between the two countries--a subject generally shrouded in a fog of diplomatic doublespeak and other subterfuge.
Davidow said the obvious: Mexico has become a drug superhighway, carrying as much as 60 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S., and one of the chief world centers for sale and distribution of illicit drugs.Following a barrage of criticism from Mexican politicians, officials and the press, the ambassador tried to backpedal. He needn't have: Mexico is, indeed, one of the world centers of drug trafficking--along with Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Russia, among others--and recognizing that has to be the first step toward attacking the problem.As if to underscore Davidow's observations, the weekend he made them the mayor of Tijuana, headquarters of one of the most powerful and deadly drug cartels, was killed in a barrage of about 100 bullets. And a former chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration not only confirmed the ambassador's assessment but also noted that in some parts of Mexico narcotraffickers are more powerful than the government.Davidow's remarks came at a delicate time. There is a presidential campaign going on in Mexico, and no issue can rile the populace like charges of yanqui meddling.But just as Mexico's dissembling and denials unfolded, the Clinton administration announced the results of its own annual charade: the annual "certification" of about 26 countries that are major narcotics producers or distributors as to whether they are cooperating with the U.S. in fighting drug trafficking. All were certified as cooperative, except for Afghanistan and Myanmar. Mexico and Colombia were certified but deemed to be "in crisis"--a new category this year--because of their booming drug business.With every passing year the certification process becomes ever more ludicrous and counterproductive: It accomplishes nothing except to annoy and embarrass other countries, many of them close trade partners or political allies.In the case of Mexico--the United States' second largest trading partner after Canada--decertification and the possible imposition of economic sanctions by the U.S. in fact are unthinkable. The entire process ought to be abandoned.And Mexicans do have a counterargument: Their country wouldn't be a gusher of illicit drugs if American addicts didn't spend an estimated $50 billion a year buying them.Priorities in the almost $18-billion-a-year U.S. war against drugs--two-thirds of the money goes for interdiction and the rest for prevention and treatment--are precisely backward.The U.S. ought to spend most of that money treating the addicted and educating the young about addiction's dangers. Both Mexico and the U.S. need to face up to their own drug problems--and skip the charades and posturing that do nothing to alleviate the problem.Published: March 6, 2000 Copyright: The Chicago TribuneRelated Article:Mexicans Denounce U.S. Ambassador Over Drug Remark
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