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Monday, March 30, 2009

Soy Màs Borracho, Soy Màs Peligro

So our neighbors to the south have become, como se dice, problematic for us, despite our noble laws and ways and our valiant thousand-mile wall abutting what is apparently the world's shallowest major river. This is Saint Ronnie's War On Some Drugs come full circle on us, folks, a blundering ouroboran catastrophe that has never successfully interdicted neither source nor demand, but has wasted countless lives trying all the same.

And now the problems are writ large, as if our efforts to put these people to work building our shitty cars and picking our strawberries weren't enough. Ingrates. I think John Robb has sussed the situation better than most, certainly more accurately than anyone in the federal government can afford to admit publicly. A "hollow state" can be just as dangerous, perhaps more, than the "failed state", because the former still has many of the trappings of a conventional political entity.

But here's the thing: we've trained the cartels' most lethal enforcers; we sell them our guns, because the Second Amendment means nothing if a drug thug can't whip out a bankroll and snag a trunk-load of assault weapons; and most importantly, we buy their drugs. I'm not moralizing, believe me, people have the right to do their thing in their own home, but someone's keeping these nasty fuckers in business. It's time we sat down and did the math, if we still remember how.

And all these little bullshit maneuvers we've tried over the years -- mandatory minimums, no-knock warrants, trashing the Fourth Amendment, turning urban police forces into paramilitary garrisons, covert ops in banana republics -- have failed utterly. Even without the direct threat of prison, we systemically condemn entire socioeconomic swaths of people to lives of hopeless debt peonage and miserable wage slavery, and then wonder why they want to get fucked up all the time.

It's hard to find sympathy for chronic fuck-ups and drug addicts, especially in a country so hopelessly addicted to self-help scams and the ethos of bootstrapping in an entropic economy. But it's even more difficult to sympathize with people who know about all our failed efforts, as well as our failure to admit and change them, and still have the balls to point the finger at the country our appetites helped hollow out.

3 comments:

cavjam said...

First, let's not lump drugs into one category. In Mexico we're talking marijuana. While cocaine may piggyback for the ride north, its smuggling is a distant second to marijuana growing and transport in industry size. Black tar heroin manufacture and transport an even more distant third.

Second, this violence is indicative of an effort by the major cartel, aka the federal government of Mexico City, to stamp out the independents whose roots lie in Culiacan and, to a lesser extent, Michoacan and Oaxaca. IOW, it's an effort to monopolize, not eradicate.

Third, the headlines are coming from the Mexican border (frontera) states because they're a bottleneck making them more concentrated sites more efficaciously attacked. They're also less hostile territory for U.S agents, Los Federales and their minions. The goal is the domination of the aforementioned states.

As for Mexico's "hollowness," I'd say it's more that its corpus callosus is sub rosa. The U.S. may actually be more of a hollow state; Mexico actually produces stuff that ain't built solely of paper and pipe dreams, the stuff is merely wrapped in paper and packed in pipes producing ephemeral dreams.

The obvious solution to the violence in los Estados Frontera (as well as Colombia and Bolivia) is to end the era of prohibition in the U.S., treat her citizens as though they were adults (despite contrary evidence), and quit being the world's premier police state. Pursuit of pharmacopeial happiness may or may not be foolish, but foolishness is surely no proper cause for sanctioned deprivation of liberty, for stealing years of one's life.

N.b. (for the world's premier police state), I have absolutely no firsthand knowledge of the illicit drug world. These are merely the addled ramblings of a febrile mind.

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Heywood J. said...

Cavjam:

Agreed, pot should be categorized separately from the harder drugs, and I think we are inching closer to legalizing that distinction. Certainly in California it's pretty much a fait accompli; here in the north, especially toward Mendo but also in the upper valley counties, the greater danger is that your dirtbag neighbors find out you have a medicinal grow license, rather than the old days of CAMP copters patrolling the hills (which still takes place, of course, but most of the people they bust these days are actually Mexican drug gangs).

There's some truth to your second point, I think, especially since the non-governmental players have co-opted former military (Los Zetas) into what is essentially internecine warfare. But these non-govs have also been far more willing to murder civilians in their efforts, forcing the government into the moral stance of having to eradicate them (hhopefully, anyway).

Zenpundit has some pretty interesting takes on this subject as well.