September 24, 2007

When In Doubt... Try Harder!

There's a new GAO report out on the War on Drugs. We learn that the United States spent $7 billion between 2000 and 2006 on drug-fighting efforts in Latin America, and—get this—it turns out we're not getting a whole lot for our money. Drug seizures affect "a very small percentage of the estimated drug supply." An average of 275 tons of cocaine enters the United States each year, but law-enforcement officials only seize about 36 of those tons. And so on.

Meanwhile, the recent strategy of targeting drug cartel "kingpins" seems to be about as effective as killing off Al Qaeda leaders in Iraq. That is, not very: "[T]his strategy does not appear to have significantly reduced drug trafficking in Mexico.... However, the disruption caused by the removal of some of the leadership presented opportunities for other drug traffickers to take advantage of the changing balance of power.... Such struggles led to increased violence throughout Mexico, with drug related deaths estimated at over 2,000 in 2006." Nicely done.

So the whole thing's a debacle, from start to finish. Any guess as to what the GAO recommends in response? Throw in the towel? Try a different approach? Maybe flirt with legalization...? Haha, no. They just suggest that the lead agency for U.S. drug policy should try to work better with its Mexican counterparts. In particular, "greater cooperation and coordination between Defense and the Mexican military service" might help. Yes, no doubt that's been the problem all along.
-- Brad Plumer 7:19 PM || ||