Thu, 26 Mar 2009 18:04:26 +0000 – Wow, an American foreign policy based on honesty! Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to Mexico and actually speaks the truth. She speaks the truth not just behind closed doors but in front of the world. On conservative talk radio they have been going after the secretary for daring to say what everyone who knows anything has been saying: The United States contributes to the Mexican drug cartel problem by its demand for drugs. What is so amazing about taking after the secretary is that the conservative hosts should understand that this is a simple principle of capitalism: supply and demand. If we should suddenly make cane sugar illegal in the U.S. then the cartels in Mexico would be happy to oblige and produce that.
The fact is that the "war on drugs" has produced unprecedented demand for illegal drugs. By making drugs illegal instead of decriminalizing them (not legalizing, but decriminalizing) we have made the cartels in Mexico almost as powerful as those in Columbia. The dollar amounts are huge, and because NAFTA has not been the boon that was promised, our Southern neighbors go for the money.
So, along comes the United States foreign policy under a brand new president, and after eight years of avoiding reality, our secretary of state talks about the elephant in the room. She should be commended for what she said:
"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians."
Mexico has felt that its neighbor to the North has done zip to prevent drug use from increasing and has encouraged head-in-the-sand, "just say no" kinds of policy campaigns.
Unfortunately, Secretary Clinton does not have a whole lot to bring to the table. The Obama administration has promised to buy Mexico a few helicopters and to add 360 agents to border posts. -- That is not enough to stem the tide drugs coming into the USA.
We have a border with Mexico, but there is also a lot of water bordering the Southern part of our country. The only solution is to take a very politically unpopular stance and move people from jails to treatment. It means making sure that if people want drugs they can get them, and get them without having to rob or cheat or murder to get the money. No, I am not advocating running to your local pharmacy to get over-the- counter cocaine, but let these people get these drugs from centers where every time someone asks for "a fix" there is an opportunity for intervention and treatment and prevention. This problem will never be solved without it -- and Secretary Clinton was brave to put the truth on the table.