Nowhere is the failure of drug prohibition more obvious than in Mexico, where President Calderon's crackdown has already produced over 4,000 deaths, without making a dent in the drug trade.
Yet Obama now joins John McCain in praising Mexico's brutal and ineffective anti-drug efforts:
Mexican drug cartels are terrorizing cities and towns. President Calderon was right to say that enough is enough. We must support Mexico’s effort to crack down. [suntimes.com]
I don't know how anyone can look at the dismal state of the Mexican drug war and find anything to be proud of. Still, I agree with Pete Guither who responded to Obama's comments by pointing out that we just can't expect a realistic drug policy platform from the major party candidates. They're not there yet.
Obama's good positions on needle exchange, medical marijuana, and sentencing have drawn interest from reformers, but there's simply no way to paint his praise of Mexico's bloody drug war crusade as anything other than typical prohibitionist "troop surge" rhetoric. It's the opposite of what's needed and it should give us pause before endorsing the popular perception among reformers that Obama "gets" the drug war issue.
When describing his plans to fund drug war activity in Central and South America, Obama says "we'll tie our support to clear benchmarks for drug seizures, corruption prosecutions, crime reduction, and kingpins busted," demonstrating a fundamental failure to grasp how those activities complement one another. Crime and violence will simply increase if enforcement increases, so any set of benchmarks will ultimately have to ignore one category or the other.
In regards to both Obama and McCain, however, we've got to recognize that ending violence in the international drug trade is the final stage of drug policy reform. It's the very last issue we'll have to confront and the last one about which we're likely to hear interesting or forward-thinking proposals from prominent politicians. There's no middle ground here. When we're ready to end violence and corruption in the drug trade, we'll stop waging the drug war.
(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)