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.