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DrugWarRant.com, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
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May 2008
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This won’t end well…

Drug war cops want bigger guns

Mexican police need bigger guns to fight increasingly violent drug gangs, a federal police chief said, after drug hitmen killed seven officers in the northern city of Culiacan.

“We need machine guns,” said General Rodolfo Cruz, the federal police force’s link with the army in their joint 18-month-old war on Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.

“Pistols are just for showing off, they are good for nothing,” he told reporters in Culiacan

Oh, yeah, machine guns are a really good choice for police work, especially when you’re working in populated areas of your own country filled with… citizens. You know, children, families, etc. Rather than just “showing off” with a pistol, you need something that indiscriminately scatters bullets all over the place.
You start with a drug war with massive black market profits. As criminal enterprises jockey for this gold mine, violence breaks out. Rather than deal with the root cause, you send in troops to go after the criminals. They fail to oblige by packing up and leaving their gold mine, but instead buy AK-47s and fight back, with violence escalating. So now you want machine guns to respond. And what will the criminal groups do? Roll over and play dead? No. They’ll just get bigger guns, or escalate other guerilla warfare techniques. And then what happens?

Stratfor – publisher of online geo-political intelligence analysis written by a global team of intelligence professionals (read former CIA staff) – has argued that Mexico rapidly hurtling down the road to becoming a ‘Failed State’ due to the ‘War on Drugs’.

You should read the entire Stratfor article: Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?”

There comes a moment when the imbalance in resources reverses the relationship between government and cartels… That is the prescription for what is called a ‹failed stateŠ Ö a state that no longer can function as a state.

Escalating the war doesn’t destroy the cartels. You can destroy individuals or even individual cartels, but the profits will still be there. They can bunker down within the citizenry and strike when they wish. And if the level of their ability to corrupt exceeds the resources of the country to counter (see Guitherism:”No government in the world can compete with the black market in financial compensation for police officers.”), then you achieve a failed state.
The really sad thing is reading the conclusion of the Stratfor analysts.

One way to deal with the problem would be ending the artificial price of drugs by legalizing them. This would rapidly lower the price of drugs and vastly reduce the money to be made in smuggling them. Nothing hurt the American cartels more than the repeal of Prohibition, and nothing helped them more than Prohibition itself. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, drug legalization isn‰t going to happen. There is no visible political coalition of substantial size advocating this solution. Therefore, U.S. drug policy will continue to raise the price of drugs artificially, effective interdiction will be impossible, and the Mexican cartels will prosper and make war on each other and on the Mexican state.

Presidential Candidates and the Drug War

I want to take a moment to follow up on my last post Obama and the drug war. Let me make it clear that I am not at all surprised by Obama’s statements. I’ve said for years that Obama was unlikely to be a leader in drug policy reform. And given his past drug use, the political reality was always certain that he would overcompensate. As one reader noted in an email to me today — The Republicans…

…will cast him as a pot-smoking, coke-snorting (and maybe drug-dealing) [black man]…if he was seen as advocating or soft on drugs, can you see it now: “he’s just a [black man] who wants to legalize drugs!”

And that is the reality of mainstream politics in the Democratic and Republican party today. (I’ll have a separate discussion about Barr and others who are running in 3rd parties later — but in this post, I’m just talking about the Dems and Repubs.)
No Presidential candidate will come out of those two parties with the nomination and a strong reform position on drug policy. Not gonna happen. At least not for some time. So by ridiculing Obama’s position on the drug war, I’m certainly not saying that anyone else is going to come out of that stink with a better smell. Certainly not McCain. Remember, change comes from the bottom. That’s where we have to focus our efforts. It would be nice to believe that we could magically elect a leader that would change it all for us and save us all the grunt work, and I have my own daydream fantasies about what I’d do if I somehow suddenly became President (without having to prostitute myself to actually win the damn job), but I’m way too far down on the succession list, so it’s just a daydream.
So, is there any reason to care about the Presidential election if we don’t expect any real change from the top regarding drug policy?
Yes.
Let me tell you what I’m looking for. I’m looking for a candidate who won’t be using the power of the federal government to actively prevent us from fomenting bottom-up change. The things that endanger us as free citizens also endanger our ability to function as a free citizenry. Authoritarian rule and lying to the people are two of the worst, and these have been the ascendant characteristics of this administration.
So, once I realize that anything that the two-party Presidential candidates say about the drug war are bullshit, I then take a look at them and ask myself: Which is more likely to promote authoritarian rule? Which is more likely to encourage and facilitate an ONDCP and DEA that lie to the people? Which is more likely to squelch dissent or treat drug war dissenters as a threat to the country? And as far as I can tell at this point, McCain wins the prize.
So, drug policy reform from Obama? Not a chance. Benign neglect? Possibly. Attempts to reverse, or slow, an authoritarian trend? Hopefully.
Update: Via Reuters:

During a fund-raiser in Denver, Obama Ö a former constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago Law School Ö was asked what he hoped to accomplish during his first 100 days in office.
‹I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution,Š said Obama.