There’s been a great deal of talk coming out of Washington that has characterized Mexico as a failed state, largely because it has been unable to rein in the violent drug cartels. The government of President Felipe Calderon has declared war on the drug barons who run a $ 30 billion a year business, but he has so far been no match for the narco-traffickers. The Mexican police are rife with corruption, the military is over matched in terms of fire power and the drug cartels are often viewed as modern day Robin Hoods. But while charges and counter charges fill the air, over 7,000 people have been killed since 2008, many of them innocent civilians.
But of course with any crisis, there are two sides to the story. The United States is never given the title of failed state, since we are a world power. But there wouldn’t be a $ 30 billion drug business in Mexico if there weren’t $ 30 billion worth of buyers of marijuna, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. There wouldn’t be 7000 deaths if the United States properly monitored the traffic in illegal guns across our borders. And there wouldn’t be the need for a drug war in Mexico if the United States paid the same amount of attention to the movement of drug smuggling as it did the movement of illegal immigrants across the nearly 2000 miles of border separating the two countries.
So rather than throw out the charge that Mexico is a failed state unable to destroy the drug cartels, those in Washington and the national media who castigate our neighbor to the south for its failures should rather look in the mirror at our poor record of controlling drug use, weapons smuggling and securing our borders. What they would find looking in that mirror is that we are just as much at fault in this drug war as Mexico.
So far the best solution that can be presented by some politicians and pundits is that we should begin to legalize drugs in this country and have the government control and tax narcotics as a way of driving the cartels out of business. No mention is made about rehabilitation for drug users, prevention of drug use, control of illegal weapons or effective border control; just legalizing drugs and drug use. Talk about a failed state.
Now that the drug war has spread to the U.S. with Phoenix the kidnap capital of the country and Tucson the home invasion capital, the Obama administration is getting serious about the war on drugs as it throws money at the Calderon government and beefs up border security. These measures are only stop gap in that they do little to curtail the enormous appetite Americans have for inexpensive narcotics. These efforts may provide some short term gains, but they will do little to address the failures of both Mexico and the United States.