Thursday, June 09, 2005

Richard Nixon kills Nuevo Laredo police chief

Sorry for the inflammatory headline. I am going to explain why it is, in part, true. Some other people bear the blame also.

The following is from today's Austin American Statesman:
Associated Press Writer

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico — For weeks, no one came forward to apply for the Nuevo Laredo police chief job because many saw it as a death sentence.

But Alejandro Dominguez proudly took office Wednesday, saying he was not afraid of anything. Nine hours later, he was ambushed and killed by gunmen who fired three dozen times.
Dominguez, a businessman who once worked at the federal Attorney General's office, was sworn in Wednesday afternoon and promised to weed out corruption in the city.

"I don't owe anybody anything. My duty is to the citizenry," he said. "I think those who should be afraid are those who have been compromised."

After dark, a group of assailants opened fire as he climbed into his Ford Lobo pickup truck outside the local chamber of commerce, which he led.

State police director Fernando Vallejo said officials recovered 35-40 casings from assault rifles similar to those used by drug gangs. Nuevo Laredo has been the front line of a turf battle between Mexico's two largest drug gangs, the Gulf and Juarez cartels.

Officials had no suspects in the case.

So what does this have to do with us? Well, it has a little to do with the War on Drugs. Read the penultimate sentence in the news story quoted above for a clue on this.

As some of you may know, the War on Drugs was declared in 1968 by Richard Nixon. His promise to pursue such a war was part of his election platform. He set in motion the various police-state efforts we have seen in the ensuing 37 years that have failed so spectacularly in every department except that of militarizing police functions, extending their intrusiveness, and vastly enlarging the financial and moral costs of imprisoning a significant part of the population.

That's sarcasm. You have to say that on the internets. In fact, sarcasm aside, the War on Drugs has failed, and indeed caused profound harm, in almost every way possible. It has invented ways to fail and cause harm that no one dreamed of in 1968.

The most important of these unforeseen avenues of disaster is the corruption and disruption of civil order in the producer countries. It goes without saying that if a country's most profitable export cannot be grown, processed, or shipped legally, that criminals will perform the entrepreneurial functions we normally expect of the business community.

Now sometimes--hard to imagine, but true--there is competition among businesses, much as envisioned by Adam Smith. We consider that a good thing, because it leads to greater efficiency and lower prices, and, normally, no major death toll. If the competitors are by profession murderers, gun-runners, mercenary soldiers, thieves, rapists, and sadistic psychopathic serial killers, the situation changes. We have seen a little of that in the streets of America. We are going to see more of it. But in Latin America it has been an unmitigated catastrophe.

For example, the extension of illicit and enormously profitable business opportunity to both sides in an already bloody civil war in Colombia has lead to an incalculable disaster. Colombia hovers somewhere between being a police state and a failed state. Mexico, which at least is not recruiting its mafias from warring armies, has managed to reach a state of civic breakdown almost as terrible as that in Colombia, in part by the drug cartels bribing and recruiting the militarized police _we_ gave advanced, special forces type training to, at Ft. Benning, among other places. The so-called Delta Zeta Force, which we trained, now works for one of the cartels causing such havoc along the border right now. But the general corruption and lawlessness brought (and bought) by the drug mafias to police and government in Mexico took the old petty corruption endemic in Mexico to a whole new level, to chaos and in some cases, like Nuevo Laredo and Juárez, a complete breakdown of law and order.

Thanks to us.

Thanks to the War on Drugs, which is no closer to being won today than in 1968. It will never be won, because it _can_ never be won, and is, by its own internal logic, unwinnable and eternal.

Meanwhile, in related news, the Supreme Court now makes it illegal to use marijuana for medical reasons anywhere in the United States.

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