With an eye on the brutal drug wars in Mexico, Newsweek published a great report on the “never-ending war on drugs.” The report noted the futility of drug supply enforcement as a means to control drug availability in the United States.
According to Robert Bonner, the former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Mexican cartels are now the most powerful drug-trafficking organizations in the world. Once, mere smugglers for the Columbian cartels, they gradually took control of all aspects of supplying and delivering cocaine–the drug trade’s No. 1 cash cow–into the U.S.–the world’s most lucrative drug market.
The United States’ forty year War on Drugs has played a significant role in pushing drug cartels from Peru and Bolivia into Columbia and then into our own backyard. With progress in Mexico, problem areas are popping up in Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica. It appears the U.S. government has recognized what many have been saying for decades, the War on Drugs is not winnable. When progress is made in one area of the world, the power center moves elsewhere–and the flow of drugs continue. As reported in Newsweek, the new U.S. policy is now one of “managing the drug problem”:
American officials have moved away from the lofty and nebulous credo of the past–winning the war on drugs–to focus on more modest and concrete aims: reducing corruption and bolstering institutions, to make sure drug traffickers cannot threaten the rule of law.
Over the past 18 months there has been an unprecedented shift among U.S. policymakers away from focusing on mostly drugs in one country or another to a comprehensive, regionwide strategy to strengthen law enforcement, the judiciary, and prison systems. “You’ll always have drug smuggling in this world,” a senior State Department official told NEWSWEEK. “The question is how do you make that manageable so it doesn’t threaten the state?”
We will see what happens in the next forty years.