Send comments, tips,
and suggestions to:
DrugWarRant
Join us on Pete's couch.
couch

DrugWarRant.com, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
facebooktwitterrss
May 2010
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives

Authors

The destruction of balance

I’ve talked about how the drug czar is trying to cover up the failures of supply side drug war (and all the other aspects of the national drug control policy) by simply saying the word “balance” as much as possible. “It’s a balanced approach,” they say, and that’s somehow supposed to make us go “Oh, well, then, that must be OK. I thought we were spending $15 billion on failed policy. I didn’t know it was balanced.”

Expect to hear this mantra over and over again. From President Obama

Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden, Presidents Obama and Calderon stressed the unwavering partnership between the two nations. […] the President highlighted the Strategy’s important balance of enforcement, prevention, and treatment.

Or from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services

One key health objective in this new blueprint is to prevent and treat substance abuse before it becomes life-threatening, and the strategy we unveiled last week calls for a balance of prevention, treatment and law enforcement to accomplish our collective goals.

I was talking to my friend George a week ago about this, but he thought the whole “balance” concept was great and decided to implement it at the restaurant where he worked.

I saw George again earlier this evening and asked how his experiment was going.

“Well, first I told my boss that I was starting a new program that would put valuable balance into my work,” George said. “And then I struck a balance between selling food to customers, testing the quality of our food to insure customer satisfaction, and mentally preparing for future customers so they get the attention they deserve.”

I asked George how that went over.

“I was quite pleased with it,” he replied, “but for some reason my boss wasn’t. After just one week, he confronted me and said ‘So far all I see of your balance is that you’re eating more food than you’re selling and you’re taking twice as much time on break as you are working.’

Clearly he didn’t get it, so I explained to him that it was unfair to micromanage the specific aspects — that the important thing was that it was a balanced approach.”

George is now taking a balanced approach to job hunting.

Of course, the Drug Czar won’t lose his job, despite the fact that his “balanced” approach is actually destructive.

Here’s just one of many examples:

Creating New Soldiers in Mexico’s Drug War: How U.S. drug policy is making Mexican cartels more deadly by Marcelo Bergman for Foreign Policy Magazine.

Barack Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, once said that he wanted to retire the phrase “war on drugs.” But on the U.S.-Mexico border, where the drug war is less metaphorical, the United States remains an enthusiastic ally — and the Obama administration has gone to great lengths to show it.

Yes, we know that supply-side doesn’t work, but it’s OK, it’s part of a balanced effort, so we’re going to continue spending money on it like crazy.

The more than $50 billion it has spent on interdiction efforts over the past quarter-century have barely made a dent in this demand.

The efforts have, however, altered the structure of the drug trade. The production of marijuana and heroin in Mexico through the 1960s and 1970s was the province of small-time operators, many of them family-type organizations, which could move drugs across a laxly policed U.S.-Mexico border without much risk of capture. […]

As the United States stepped up its enforcement efforts at key transshipment points — the Caribbean and the U.S.-Mexico border — and paid its Latin American drug war allies to do the same elsewhere, moving product into the United States became more difficult. Traffickers today must outwit American soldiers, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and Border Patrol officers. […]

None of this has slowed the drug trade — demand, remember, has remained mostly constant. Instead, the cost of getting into the business has risen. To escape stringent enforcement, today’s smugglers need deep pockets to run the sophisticated logistics needed to escape detection and seizure, pay the necessary bribes, and absorb substantial losses of their product when seizures do happen. These barriers to entry have winnowed the trafficking business down to a handful of major players: first Colombia’s Medellín and Cali cartels in the 1980s and 1990s, and now the five key Mexican cartels. Smaller outfits, meanwhile, have found new, less daunting lines of work as suppliers and service providers for large syndicates. […]

As a result, a business that once enjoyed a certain degree of market competition is now an oligopoly. […]

As the cartels have shrunk in number, the pressure on them — from U.S. and Mexican authorities, and from their own competitors — has increased apace, forcing the organizations to become better equipped and more violent. Today’s Mexican cartels spend millions of dollars a year on assault rifles, explosives, armored high-end SUVs, and sophisticated intelligence operations, with the aim of avoiding interdiction and eliminating competitors.

This is the grand paradox of drug enforcement. Unless enforcement agencies can intercept virtually all of the drugs crossing the border — something that approaches impossibility — their efforts are likely to simply produce more formidable opponents.

But at least it’s a balanced approach.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

11 comments to The destruction of balance

  • kaptinemo

    “Think of it as evolution in action.”

    Reformers have gone over all this before, about how the more Draconian the drug laws become, the more dangerous the cartels get. ‘Mom and Pop’ dealers were forced out long ago – thanks to the police – and now the police are facing extremely well-armed, equipped and trained opponents. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, as that’s why the police militarized to begin with, from the fear that they would be out-manned and out-gunned…so they ginned up the violence on their part, precipitating the evolution of the gangs which hadn’t been that vicious until the police stepped up their efforts.

    Kicking bee’s nests is a sure way to invite being stung. Uncle Sam ought to have figured that out by now, old as he is, but he just has to kick those nests and then he gets all shocked and indignant that he’s gotten stung all over.

  • permanentilt

    More GOLD from the AP!!

    Link

    Who knew the AP would finally see the forrest for the trees?

  • kaptinemo

    From Permanentilt’s link:

    The nature of the spending so far underscores the Obama administration’s quandary: Having acknowledged to the AP that the 40-year War on Drugs hasn’t worked, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske last week said the U.S. will emphasize drug abuse prevention and treatment. But like the $15.5 billion U.S. drug control budget that emphasizes prison and police funding, financial aid to Mexico — when it comes — is focused almost entirely on law enforcement. (Emphasis mine – k.)

    Wow. How’s that for an admission?

  • Nick z

    Today’s Mexican cartels spend millions of dollars a year on assault rifles, explosives, armored high-end SUVs, and sophisticated intelligence operations, with the aim of avoiding interdiction and eliminating competitors.

    I dunno, sounds like exactly what the DEA fascists wanted.

    Now they have more reason to turn the US into a police-state by equating the drug cartels with terrorist orgs and further militarizing the police.

  • claygooding

    Very good article,so good I already started posting it where it cold be seen by more people.
    The lies are starting to intertwine so much that they are choking each other. The oper se driving laws are already under attack by freedom organizations. Will post links as soon as I get through compiling them.

  • Cannabis

    Balanced, oh sure, right…not. That’s why Tom McClellan is leaving the ONDCP. They brought him on board just so thay could say that their policy was balanced, but look at the budget, not the Strategy. Tom did, and he bailed.

  • denmark

    Happy to read that key words are being picked up by pro legalization people, Thanks Pete. We, as a group, watching and listening to these clowns keeps each of us on our toes and allows us to stay one step ahead of them.

    In reality and in my opinion, there isn’t much balance in our world and it’s delusional to entertain that thought.

    No balance here: http://wmckay.blogspot.com/

    Police surrender their town
    The police force of La Unión, Guerrero resigned en masse yesterday after an attack on the police headquarters by a group of armed men that left 2 officers gravely wounded last Saturday. After the force of 6 police officers quit, leaving only the Director of Security in charge and his assistant, the mayor of La Unión requested the state police to take over policing the municipality. In nearby Taxco, about an hours drive west of Acapulco, a group of police officers were attacked by 3 men who then took the officer’s weapons, uniforms and police equipment.

  • claygooding

    I have searched at MAP and every news outlet for any info
    on the federal judge allowing m/m evidence in a jury trial
    with no luck. The link posted at marijuana.com goes to a
    .org site and ends there. No links to any news articles about Steele and Theresa Smith.
    The original poster is conversing with us about it and I have asked for links to any news story about the bust and the name of the collective/location.
    When I have links,I will post them here.

  • claygooding

    A copy of the Indictment:
    Link
    The date of the Indictment is in 2007 and could be why no stories are hitting,will start search over in the archives.
    Fullerton Ca. is the city where this took place so if anyone finds more info,please share.
    This is a huge development and if it results in a not guilty from a jury will set a precedent plus establish a recognition of m/m in a federal court. What will that do to schedule 1?

  • glarbl_blarbl

    It makes me so sad to hear that President Obama’s Drug Policy is identical to Fox News’ Journalism. Sad, but not surprised.

  • claygooding

    No hits on any of the info from the indictment,nothing on any of the defendants,the collective named,or any grow busts in the towns listed on the indictment @ mapinc.
    Nothing from the Orange County Register either.
    So far,all information begins and ends at the same website.
    Scam?????????
    Now I am feeling disappointment setting in. It would have been neat.