Surgical Strikes in the Drug Wars.
Foreign Affairs; Sep/Oct2011, Vol. 90 Issue 5, p89-101, 13p, 1 Black and White Photograph Document Type:
*DRUGS of abuse -- Law & legislation
MEXICO -- Foreign economic relations -- United States
UNITED States -- Foreign economic relations -- Mexico
522293 International Trade Financing
The article focuses on strategies for the governments in the U.S. and Mexico to deal with the illicit drug trade problem between the countries. Topics include previous policies on drug trafficking of both countries, demand for illicit drugs in the U.S. and supply in Mexico, and violence in Mexico related to drug exports to the U.S. Discussion is provided about policies surrounding reduction of drug abuse and imprisonment of drug abusers in the U.S., the effects of cannabis legalization in the U.S., and possible outcomes for giving Mexico's trafficking organizations incentives to reduce violence. Author Affiliations:
1Professor of Public Policy, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles Full Text Word Count:
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Translations pSection: Essays
Smarter Policies for Both Sides of the Border
MORE THAN a thousand people die each month in drug-dealing violence in Mexico, and the toll has been rising. In some parts of the country, the police find themselves outgunned by drug traffickers and must rely on the armed forces. Meanwhile, the United States suffers from the widespread abuse of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and cannabis; violence and disorder surrounding retail drug markets; property theft and violent crime committed by drug abusers; and mass incarceration, including half a million people behind bars for drug offenses and at least as many for crimes committed for money to buy drugs. Current policies, clearly, have unsatisfactory results. But what is to replace them? Neither of the standard alternatives--a more vigorous pursuit of current antidrug efforts or a system of legal availability for currently proscribed drugs--offers much hope. Instead, it is time for Mexico and the United States to consider a set of less conventional approaches. Most of the illicit drugs consumed in the United States come through or from Mexico, and virtually all the revenue of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations comes from sales to the United States. Thinking of this as a single shared drug problem suggests a shared responsibility for controlling that problem. In the conventional telling, Mexico's role is to limit illicit exports, while the United States should act to shrink demand and domestic production, relying on the standard drug-control triad of enforcement, prevention, and treatment. The conventional alternative to this conventional wisdom holds that the problem is not drugs but drug laws, and that the solution is therefore legal availability. Since prohibition creates illicit markets, the argument goes, only some form of regulated availability can eliminate the illicit market and the resulting problems. Even under legal availability, say the anti-prohibitionists, prevention and treatment efforts can limit the ex tent of drug abuse and the damage it causes. Last June's report of the self-appointed Global Commission on Drug Policy--whose signatories included former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Switzer land, as well as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan--laid out the anti-drug-war view. But the established understanding and the established alternative share an undue faith in the power of prevention and treatment; the established view also embraces an overoptimistic assessment of the power of enforcement. A more realistic understanding would take into account the limited...
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