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Drug War Delusions

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 22, 2010 8:16 PM


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What an irony: In Afghanistan, the U.S. military, in order to achieve a larger strategic victory in Marja, the former Taliban stronghold, is ignoring the vast opium fields in their midst. As this NYT story from yesterday reports:

"Marja is a special case right now," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Eggers, a member of the general's Strategic Advisory Group, his top advisory body. "We don't trample the livelihood of those we're trying to win over.

Now Mexico is a whole other kettle of drugs, so winning over the vicious cartels there is not an option. But it appears that ordinary Mexican citizens are turning against its government's ineffectual war on the cartels. Meanwhile, the U.S., like a junkie's enabler, is just helping to extend the misery and collateral damage. Is there an exit strategy for this war? As Blake Hounshell recently wrote in Foreign Policy:

If you ask me, it all seems like doubling down on a failed strategy -- a typical example of trying to solve a social and political problem through military and technical means.

I think his qualifier was too generous. It's pretty obvious the U.S. is sticking with the tip of the spear. So why is that the U.S., when faced with failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, can pivot to a new war strategy, but not do the same with the endless drug war on its own turf and across its southern border?

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