Increasing Violence in Mexico is Not a Sign of Progress in the Drug War

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Peter Guither routinely dissects drug war illogic in the public discourse over at the Drug WarRant blog. Last week he highlighted some illustratively blind comments in the Wall Street Journal by an unnamed senior US official who actually argued that increased violence in Mexico is a sign of progress in the drug war:
U.S. law-enforcement officials -- as well as some of their counterparts in Mexico -- say the explosion in violence indicates progress in the war on drugs as organizations under pressure are clashing. "If the drug effort were failing there would be no violence," a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. There is violence "because these guys are flailing. We're taking these guys out. The worst thing you could do is stop now."
The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb followed up:
The cops wanted a new metric by which to judge their success -- one that would not penalize them for an increased murder rate that necessarily follows from doing their job, i.e. eliminating a major drug trafficker.
Pete pointed out that Goldfarb and the official are "confusing success in an action with success in policy." Sure, we can take out any given drug trafficking organization if we try hard enough, but if the result is that different traffickers supply the same amount of drugs to people, while tearing the country apart at greater and greater levels with their fighting, it's poor strategy. And since people are dying in the Mexican drug wars at a rapid pace -- 8,000 have been killed in the past two years since President Calderón ratcheted things up by sending in the military -- I'd say yes, we absolutely should stop it, ASAP. If we're going to be at all logical about things, that is.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Drug war is racist

Yeah, the violence is progress as long as it's not happening in their backyard and their children getting killed in the crossfire. Pricks.

Selling It

Like any sales spiel...

  • If it goes up, that means it's working and doing a great job.
  • If it goes down, that means it's working and doing a great job.
  • If it stays the same, that means it's working and doing a great job.
  • If it conks out in the beginning. "We designed it that way."
  • If it conks out in the middle. "We designed it that way."
  • If it conks out in the end. "We designed it that way."

Spin. Spin. Spin.

(Too bad we can't attach a generator and harness electricity from it.)

People Dying

Another thing that seems so ironic:

8,000 people die, and "we need to keep this up!"

But one person dies from ____________ (drug), and it's "man the battle-stations to crush this huge evil and stop it!"

Metrics for Success in the Drug War

If drug warriors are allowed to define their own measures of success, they certainly will, and they will always define that success in a way that makes themselves look good.

Actually, all government agencies engage in this kind of PR.  It just happens to be far more irritating when drug enforcement does it, since drug situations usually involve a person’s democratic freedoms being threatened based on superstitions held by those in authority.

The drug war pits democracy against the forces of the authoritarian state in a raging political battle that began several millennia ago when the Greeks first invented democracy.  Thus, what the American people want they cannot have, because some mindless corporatists think a rigorous, martial society is the way to bigger profits.

The drug war is expected to accomplish what Fascism was supposed to achieve under Mussolini, although it never did.  Mussolini, along with a half-dozen or so other political hacks, believed a martial society would invigorate Italians and cause Italy to catch up with the rapid industrialization of other countries after World War I.  Mussolini and his fellow political criminals were dead wrong (see Mussolini’s Intellectuals by A. James Gregor).

Fascism did not spur a rapid industrialization of Italy.  Just as a drug-free society can not create a perfect corporatist state.  In fact, given the social stresses of corporatism, a modern, drug-free society that fails to meet the need for a safe and personal chemical sedative or emotional release is likely to be one that crumbles under its very own weight.

So it seems Italians will always be Italians, and drug users will always be drug users, no matter what kind of perverse social engineering is used on them by witless, crusading leaders.  And who is to say being oneself is such a bad thing?


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