At the end of July, US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske announced that in the potemkin villages he visits, it looks like the War on Drugs is working. As the Tico Times Reports:
[Kerlikowske] The drug czar, who has more than 37 years of law enforcement under his belt – including stints as police chief in Seattle (Washington), Buffalo (New York) and various cities in Florida – said “the security threat Colombia and the United States faced in 1999 is gone, and it has been accomplished without offsetting those results elsewhere. These lessons provide a model for dealing with challenges throughout the world, particularly in Central America.”
The knowledge that the threat from cartel violence is over in Bogota and that the FARC is severely weakened in the jungles of Peru and Bolivia must be great comfort to the dozens murdered in the two weeks since he made that statement. But of course, the ongoing nationwide turf war between the Mexican Zetas and Sinaloa cartel to whom the Colombians outsourced the job of trafficking their product over the last decade is because the cartels are violent criminal organizations. Not because the military intervention in Columbia made it more profitable for the Columbians to move their coke, weed, and morphine up through Mexico into the Southwestern US rather than flying it in to Miami Johnny Depp style. Those two facts, in Kerlikowske’s world, apparently bear no relation to one another.
Kerlikowske’s arguments, in classic drug warrior fashion, mistake cause for effect. His speech, given to the centrist think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also attacked the notion that decriminalization could play a part in ending drug violence in Latin America on the spurious grounds that “these groups are in business for money and power, and there is no limit to the schemes they will employ to extract illegal proceeds from our societies.” This line of argument seems willfully blind to the direct link between the increased power of the Narco Cartels in Mexico and the military intervention in Colombia over the last two decades. It was that intervention which made it unprofitable for the Colombians to move their own product through the Miami corridor, and gave rise to the flood of Columbian Narco money in Sinaloa, Juarez, Tijuana and along the Gulf Coast. It is that money from trafficking which made it possible for the cartels in Mexico to flower and for the entrepreneurial spirit of the Narco heroes to branch out into human trafficking, extortion, and kidnapping. Moreover, Kerlikowske’s failure to recognize that the paramilitary cartel Los Zeta’s probably wouldn’t even exist if US Drug War money had not created the elite special forces units in the Mexican Army from which the organization first emerged would seem like gross incompetence, if it weren’t so typical of the retired cops routinely selected to run the US War on Drugs.
But drugs are bad, and so apparently for Kerlikowske the brutal, endless, violent deaths that are all directly attributable to the US’s irrational drug policy are acceptable losses in the battle to achieve his fantasy of a postmodern tea-total society. After all, the coke on the streets is less pure now, so the fiends need more of it to get high, in turn raising wholesale demand and profits to traffickers. And that’s a victory for the Drug Warriors because . . . Gil Kerlikowske says so apparently.