July 23, 2024

There’s Only 1 Way to End the Mexican Drug War

Almost 20,000 Mexican citizens have died in that country since President Felipe Calderon’s government declared war on the drug lords that even now seem to rule many parts of that country.

Worse, that’s not likely to change says Ismael Zambada, a top member of Joaquin Guzman, Mexico’s most notorious drug lord:

"Millions of people are wrapped up in the narco problem. How can they be overcome? For all the bosses jailed, dead or extradited their replacements are already there."

The hell of it is that Zambada is probably right. In theory, such deadly force could be applied to the battle against the narco-terrorists that bit players would find it too risky to step into leadership positions when their bosses fall. But that’s unlikely to happen because of the collateral damage that would inevitably accompany such an offensive.

There are two ways to convince a bad apple to get his life right: fear and persuasion. When fear is not going to work, persuasion may have to do. In this case, it’s economic persuasion that might convince drug runners that the business isn’t worth the risk.

Obviously the U.S. government isn’t going to get into the business of buying drug smugglers off. I say that blithely – it’s clear that very little is completely beyond the pale these days – but I do think it’s true. But a marked decline in demand for illegal drugs would have the same effect as an all-out war on Mexican pushers by reducing the incentive for manufacturers and smugglers to stay in business.

The Washington Post still thinks that doing so is possible via law enforcement:

Perhaps the top contribution the United States could make is to redouble its efforts to reduce American demand for illegal narcotics. The trafficking in Mexico is driven overwhelmingly by U.S. consumption — especially of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine — which is estimated to exceed $60 billion annually. Moreover, the U.S. government estimates that $18 billion to $39 billion flows south each year as a result of American sales of illegal narcotics.

The fact of the matter is that reducing demand is far easier said than done and will never be achieved through military means. Unless what is now illegal is made legal, that is. Legalization is, sadly, the only viable untried option: we’ve attempted everything else and nothing has made more than a small dent in the flow of illegal drugs into this country. One need only look at the foolish period of Prohibition to recognize where this will all end up.

Many well-meaning and law-abiding Americans may rail against the notion of legalizing marijuana and narcotics, but the truth is that their friends and neighbors have already voted in favor of drugs with the most powerful ballot of all – their wallets – and it’s impossible to undo that choice.

Why? Primarily because these people simply don’t want things any other way and don’t care that thousands of people have died and are still dying every day so that they can indulge their drug habits.

Legalization, whether partial or complete, is the inevitable end to the drug wars. No other end short of Turkish Draconianism is possible. The only question is how many more bystanders will die before the conclusion is reached in Washington.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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