Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Even CIA analysts acknowledge prohibition is the problem

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'.

The author argues that there is a real danger that the drugs war could have such a negative impact on the Mexican state apparatus that the government ceases to be in control of its own law enforcers/politicians and civil administration.

This analysis comes after a number of high ranking policemen have been killed by the drug cartels. On May 8th Edgar Millan Gomez, Mexico's highest-ranking law enforcement officer who was responsible for overseeing most of Mexico’s counter-narcotics efforts, was shot dead in his own home. Numerous other police chiefs have also been assassinated by the cartels, and some have resigned to save their lives.

Statfor points out that these cartels are now fighting amongst themselves as well as against the government for control of the estimated $41 billion a year drugs trade.

'Given the amount of money they have, the organized criminal groups can be very effective in bribing government officials at all levels, from squad leaders patrolling the border to high-ranking state and federal officials. Given the resources they have, they can reach out and kill government officials at all levels as well. Government officials are human; and faced with the carrot of bribes and the stick of death, even the most incorruptible is going to be cautious in executing operations against the cartels.'

'Government officials, seeing the futility of resistance, effectively become tools of the cartels. Since there are multiple cartels, the area of competition ceases to be solely the border towns, shifting to the corridors of power in Mexico City. Government officials begin giving their primary loyalty not to the government but to one of the cartels. The government thus becomes both an arena for competition among the cartels and an instrument used by one cartel against another. That is the prescription for what is called a “failed state” — a state that no longer can function as a state.'

The article goes on to give a detailed critique of drug prohibition, comparing it to the alcohol prohibition in America in the 1920's. Whilst many of the readers of this blog will be well-versed with these arguments, Friedman's stark analysis of the break down of state control is compelling . It argues that,
'It is important to point out that we are not speaking here of corruption, which exists in all governments everywhere. Instead, we are talking about a systematic breakdown of the state, in which government is not simply influenced by criminals, but becomes an instrument of criminals — either simply an arena for battling among groups or under the control of a particular group. The state no longer can carry out its primary function of imposing peace, and it becomes helpless, or itself a direct perpetrator of crime.'

Members of the Mexican federal police and organise cocaine packages to be destroyed in Manzanillo port, Mexico. Photograph: Jorge Gutierrez/EPA

The article acknowledges that the best way to resolve this problem is the repeal of prohibition, which the author states has helped the cartels increase their power more than anything else by inflating drug prices and creating the conditions for the systematic breakdown of state control. However the argue that,

'There is no visible political coalition of substantial size advocating this solution.' Obviously this seems a bit defeatist to us at Transform so we are proposing an article to Stratfor based on the Transform timeline for reform.

As Stratfor is staffed by former (and possibly current) CIA employees, its interesting that they are now carrying analysis publicly acknowledging and discussing the carnage that prohibition has fuelled.

According to official figures, over 1,367 people have died this year in drug-related violence. Thats up 47% on last year. 10% of those killed have been police or soldiers. For further details on the rising body count see 'Body count mounts as drugs cartels battle each other - and the police'


Anonymous said...

Ever considered writing about the carnage which addiction causes. No doubt your paymasters would have a fit if you did.

Anonymous said...

You need to realize the difference between "addiction" and "use." Many use drugs daily, without impunity, i.e., alcohol, nicotine and caffine. All known to be addictive.

Yet, you cry about only 7 drugs, which brings us to the "War on (some) Drugs." Not all drugs! You take asprirn and it's a known killer. Stand between a thug and his money and you come up with another known killer.

Everything today that you put in your mouth has some form of chemicals (drugs) added. You must be in a horrible shape by now. Oh, you're not? Does that give ya a clue????

Steve Rolles said...

Transform fully acknowledge the harms cause by problematic drug use. We make the clear case that a criminal justice led response to those harms increases rather than decreases them as well as creating new problems associated will illegal markets and related criminal activity. Please make the arguments for why you think drug control in Mexico has been such a triumphant success and and maybe we can have a sensible discussion.

I have no idea who you think our paymasters are (we raise our own funds, mostly from charitable trusts - it is all made public as a charity and limited company). I find your anonymous trolling childish and ridiculous, and it certainly doesn't help your case - not that you actually make one.

Anonymous said...

Addiction is bad...prohibition is worse. Hard to see, for some. Prohibition requires propaganda and the kool-aid is easy to swallow.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - doesn't it make you wonder how far this carrot/stick corruption goes?

I mean - why are so many governments and officials the world over so interested in maintaining a prohibitionist stance on drugs - particularly trying to reduce supply?

It would make an interesting plot for a movie ;-)