Monday, March 16, 2009

"Drug War Doublespeak" or Why We Must Question US Sources that Call Mexico Unstable

When the U.S. government and its military talk about Mexico of late, they seem to use both sides of their mouths. While repeatedly stating that Mexico is ripe for "sudden collapse" and poses a "national security threat" to the US, they simultaneously praise Mexico President Felipe Calderon for restoring order and winning the war on drugs.

This is simply "drug war doublespeak," says Laura Carsten from the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy this week. Its purpose? To "assure funding and public support for the military model of combating illegal drug trafficking, despite the losses and overwhelming evidence that current strategies are not working."

A war rhetoric benefits US "doublespeakers" because it:

  • Promotes the further militarization of the southern border
  • Insures lucrative contracts for private defense and security firms
  • Harvests federal aid for local politicians
  • Justifies the Bush administration's Merida Initiative spending ($1.4 Billion)
  • Promotes fear among US citizenry, greasing the wheel for more military spending.

By declaring the success of Calderon's offensive against organized crime as making great progress against illegal drug trafficking and the power of cartels, the Pentagon and US government sources are designating it as a program the US must support.

What would a viable response to this drug war look like?

1) The violence requires both the US and Mexico to recognize that the growth of transnational crime is not the subject of a blame game, but is rather a byproduct of globalization.

2) Further, both countries need to cut off defense contractors and private security companies' contracts.

3) Finally, both countries need to consider public health and treat drug addicts as patients, not criminals, and to deal with the illegal drug trade through rehabilitation, prevention, and harm reduction programs in local communities.

If we continue to rely on a military approach, which is ultimately a violence-based approach, to address the drug violence in Mexico and the US, then what we can expect in return is simply more violence.

For Democracy Now segment (3/13/09) featuring Laura Carsten, click here.


Dada said...

"If we continue to rely on a military approach, which is ultimately a violence-based approach....then what we can expect in return is simply more violence."

Not just from the drug war, but all areas of a foreign policy that increasingly relies on bullying and force instead of accommodation and negotiation.

But in regards to the drug war, as El Paso County's previous sheriff, Leo Samaniego, said (and echoed by our current mayor as noted in your blog):

"The military is trained to kill. They have a different mentality. We're peace officers. WE DEAL WITH A LOT OF THINGS THAT COULD TURN DEADLY, BUT MOST OF THE TIME IT'S TALKING AND KNOWING HOW TO REACT TO WHAT YOU'RE SEEING," ...

(...instead of just pulling triggers and collecting bodies afterwards! ~Dada)

Remember Ezekial Hernandez, Jr.!

Border Explorer said...

Great comment, Dada. Thanks for the enrichment.

And from the Las Culturas website: Ezekiel Hernandez, Jr. was an 18 year old American boy who was shot in the back with an M-16 on May 20, 1997. He was shot while herding goats near his home in Redford, Texas by Marines deployed to enforce Operation Gatekeeper - a drug trafficking control effort along the border. The Marines were 230 yards away and claimed self-defense, which was accepted by authorities.

Vicente Duque said...

Mexico is not going to fall as the Merchants of Hate tell us constantly on TV and Radio.

Let me explain why :

Colombia had a Bigger Challenge from Drug Lords and Guerrillas.

8 Years ago Colombia was in good proportion in the Power of the FARC Guerrillas killing hundreds or perhaps thousands of people every month. The Paramilitary opposing them were Narcos ( Drug Producers, Processors, Drug Trafficking, etc )

Colombia has defeated these enemies in Great Proportion. Let's say in 80% or more. They have lost the best territories to gather money or riches.

The FARC guerrillas are confined to deep jungle where they are almost starving. The Narcos are in American Prisons or in six feet underground.

Today, only the Most Deranged Madmen can believe that the Colombian Government is unstable or challenged by the thugs. Hundreds of them are now in American Prisons after extradition.

If Colombia did not fall, then why Mexico, a much richer country with many more resources would fall ?

Also consider this : Colombia has been surrounded by the Most Arrogant, Narcissistic, Vulgar and Aggressive Neighbors that have tried to help the Guerrillas.

And Colombia has resisted the attacks of these Masters of Villany, Baseness and Lowness.

Mexico is not surrounded by these Madmen of Vulgarity, Verbal Intemperance, Narcissism, Inferiority Complexes, Hate, etc ...

Vicente Duque

Border Explorer said...

Vincente: "Merchants of Hate"--I love that!

Actually, the failure of Plan Columbia is critical to Laura Casten's thesis. Her report refers to the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy led by former presidents and drug warriors Fernando Enrique Cardoso of Brasil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico who called the war on drugs a failure and call for a "paradigm shift."

She quotes them: "The traumatic Colombian experience is a useful reference for countries not to make the mistake of adopting the U.S. prohibitionist policies and to move forward in the search for innovative alternatives."

I tend to be a FARC sympathizer, but your comment reinforces for me that violent means make losers of all participants.

Brother Tim said...

Police/Criminal Violence is a vicious circle. Violence begets violence. The police up-arm, the criminals up-arm, the police up-arm some more, the criminals up-arm some more. When will the madness stop?

We could start with the de-criminalization of marijuana. With higher quality pot available, I believe use of drugs such as cocaine, and heroin would decrease.

But the cartels aren't making as much money as the governments are in the war on drugs. Hence, it will never cease.