Drug Policy as destructive foreign policy

Foreign Policy in Focus’ Laura Carlsen has a fascinating piece: Militarizing Mexico: The New War on Drugs

The U.S. model not only served to bolster the presidency. It has also proven useful as a tool for geopolitical control abroad. By elevating drug trafficking to a matter of national security, the war on drugs model has led to U.S. intervention in the politics of both drug-producing and transit nations. It has been used to justify the militarization of whole regions of foreign nations (Colombia), invasions to oust inconvenient foreign leaders (Panama), and now the extension of the U.S. security agenda into a neighboring country (Mexico).
By exporting its ‹war on drugs,Š the United States has pressured other nations to embrace U.S. national security interests as their own. This has been true from the beginning.

It’s been clear to most educated observers (and a few foreign leaders), that U.S. drug control policy and its promotion of drug policy through international treaty and the U.N. has been less about drugs than it has been about control.

Another concern that has arisen from the Colombian experience is that the ‹war on drugsŠ has a disturbing tendency to morph into a ‹war on terrorismŠ that increases U.S. military reach into foreign lands. Recall the expansion of Plan Colombia‰s anti-narcotics model into counter-terrorism activities. Since the U.S. government‰s definition of ‹terrorismŠ is both broad and ambiguous, this tendency has led to mission creep and the use of U.S. military aid to attack internal dissidence. For Mexico, the equation of immigration with terrorist threats to promote the U.S. strategy of militarizing the northern border provides a case study in how U.S. counter-terrorism programs lead to militarization, loss of national sovereignty, and violations of human rights. The new drug war provides a dangerous stepping stone in that process.

Again, not much new in the article to those of us educated in drug policy reform, but it’s good to see it articulated.
For a more sadly humorous look at the Mexican drug war, check out this amazing piece in the Dallas Morning News: Drug case could backfire in Mexico
Part of Calderon’s popularity in the drug war came from the seizure of $200 million and the hopes of the people that it would serve a good use. But there has been quite a bit of concern that it would all evaporate in a frenzy of corruption. That fear has not been eased:

But recent video images of the home’s owner š the Mexican nationalized Chinese native Zhenli Ye Gon š strolling New York streets and accusing the ruling party of using him to hoard its illegal money now threatens to taint the spectacular DEA-assisted seizure. […]
The official investigation against him and testimony from employees and relatives, including his jailed wife, suggest cozy ties among the Chinese businessman, politicians and even members of the military. Anti-drug police allegedly extorted bribes from him but also warned him to leave the country before the raid on his house.
Opposition parties have called for a congressional investigation into possible links between the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, and Mr. Ye Gon. On Wedneday, PAN legislators joined opposition members in calling for an investigation into the Ye Gon case.
As a result, the public no longer sees a $205 million blow against the drug cartels but a cesspool of collusion among drug operatives, politicians and government officials, analysts said.

“Cesspool.” Good word.

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