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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Failing Narco-Terrorist State Next Door

Mexico is a mess, as well set out in Drug Gangs Have Mexico on the Ropes:
Tally all this up and what you get is Mexico on the edge of chaos, and a mess that could easily bleed across the border. The U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., warned recently that an unstable Mexico "could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States." In a report titled "Joint Operating Environment 2008," the Command singles out Mexico and Pakistan as potentially failing states. Both "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse . . . . The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels."

The National Drug Threat Assessment for 2009 says that Mexican drug-trafficking organizations now "control most of the U.S. drug market," with distribution capabilities in 230 U.S. cities. The cartels also "maintain cross border communication centers" that use "voice over Internet Protocol, satellite technology (broadband satellite instant messaging), encrypted messaging, cell phone technology, two-way radios, scanner devices, and text messaging, to communicate with members" and even "high-frequency radios with encryption and rolling codes to communicate during cross-border operations."
Queries: Would legalizing drug use collapse all the criminal gangs and stabilize Mexico?

One view:
Illegal drugs are expensive precisely because they are illegal. The products themselves are worthless weeds -- cannabis (marijuana), poppies (heroin), coca (cocaine) -- or dirt-cheap pharmaceuticals and "precursors" used, for example, in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Yet today, marijuana is worth as much as gold, heroin more than uranium, cocaine somewhere in between. It is the U.S.'s prohibition of these drugs that has spawned an ever-expanding international industry of torture, murder and corruption. In other words, we are the source of Mexico's "drug problem."

The remedy is as obvious as it is urgent: legalization.

Regulated legalization of all drugs -- with stiffened penalties for driving impaired or furnishing to kids -- would bring an immediate halt to the violence. How? By (1) dramatically reducing the cost of these drugs, (2) shifting massive enforcement resources to prevention and treatment and (3) driving drug dealers out of business: no product, no profit, no incentive. In an ideal world, Mexico and the United States would move to repeal prohibition simultaneously (along with Canada). But even if we moved unilaterally, sweeping and lasting improvements to public safety (and public health) would be felt on both sides of the border. (Tragically and predictably, just as Mexico's parliament was about to reform its U.S.-modeled drug laws, the Bush administration stepped in, pressuring President Vicente Fox to abandon the enlightened position he'd championed for two years.)

With drugs stringently controlled and regulated by our own government, Mexico would once again become a safe, inviting place for American tourists -- and for its own citizens, who pay the steepest price of all for our insistence on waging an immoral, unwinnable war on drugs.
A counter view:

Recall also that most people in drug treatment are there because of some form of coercion. Very few walk in on their own. Take away coercion, and you take away treatment for all but a few burned-out addicts.

John Stuart Mill, the father of modern libertarians, argued that people can only restrict the freedom of another for their self-protection, and society can only exert power over its members against their will in order to prevent harm to others. I think that the harm to others from drug legalization will be greater than the harm--and it is a great harm--that now exists from keeping these drugs illegal.

And the "Drug Watch International" view:
Drug Watch International
Position Statement

AGAINST THE LEGALIZATION OR DECRIMINALIZATION OF DRUGS

The legalization or decriminalization of drugs would make harmful, psychoactive, and addictive substances affordable, available, convenient, and marketable. It would expand the use of drugs. It would remove the social stigma attached to illicit drug use, and would send a message of tolerance for drug use, especially to youth.

Background:

Drug legalization or decriminalization is opposed by a vast majority of Americans and people around the world. Leaders in drug prevention, education, treatment, and law enforcement adamantly oppose it, as do many political leaders. However, pro-drug advocacy groups, who support the permissive use of illicit drugs, although small in number, are making headlines. They are influencing legislation and having a significant impact on the national policy debate in the United States and in other countries. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is the oldest drug user lobby in the U.S. It has strong ties to the Libertarian party, the Drug Policy Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union. These groups use a variety of strategies which range from outright legalization to de facto legalization under the guise of "medicalization," "harm reduction," crime reduction, hem/marijuana for the environment, free needle distribution to addicts, marijuana cigarettes as medicine, and controlled legalization through taxation.

Rationale:

The use of illicit drugs is illegal because of their intoxicating effects on the brain, damaging impact on the body, adverse impact on behavior, and potential for abuse. Their use threatens the health, welfare, and safety of all people, of users and non-users alike.

Legalization would decrease price and increase availability. Availability is a leading factor associated with increased drug use. Increased use of addictive substances leads to increased addiction. As a public health measure, statistics show that prohibition was a tremendous success.

Many drug users commit murder, child and spouse abuse, rape, property damage, assault and other violent crimes under the influence of drugs. Drug users, many of whom are unable to hold jobs, commit robberies not only to obtain drugs, but also to purchase food, shelter, clothing and other goods and services. Increased violent crime and increased numbers of criminals will result in even larger prison populations.

Legalizing drugs will not eliminate illegal trafficking of drugs, nor the violence associated with the illegal drug trade. A black market would still exist unless all psychoactive and addictive drugs in all strengths were made available to all ages in unlimited quantity.

Drug laws deter people from using drugs. Surveys indicate that the fear of getting in trouble with the law constitutes a major reason not to use drugs. Fear of the American legal system is a major concern of foreign drug lords. Drug laws have turned drug users to a drug-free lifestyle through mandatory treatment. 40% - 50% are in treatment as a result of the criminal justice system.

A study of international drug policy and its effects on countries has shown that countries with lax drug law enforcement have had an increase in drug addiction and crime. Conversely, those with strong drug policies have reduced drug use and enjoy low crime rates.

The United States and many countries would be in violation of international treaty if they created a legal market in cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs. The U.S. is a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotics & the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and has agreed with other members of the United Nations to control and penalize drug manufacturing, trafficking, and use. 112 nations recently reaffirmed their commitment to strong drug laws.
Would a really good border enforcement program spare us some trouble or just lead to more corruption?

What would the effect of drug legalization be on terrorist funding?

Take the profit out of the drug semi-submersible business?

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