In a vaguely half-interested manner, I clicked on a link to a WSJ writeup titled “Dispatches From the War on Drugs” by Mary Anastasia O’Grady.

I had expected to see the usual accounts of SWAT team raids on drug dealers holed up in public housing, but instead the article read like an account from a full-fledged shooting war:

…the cables reveal how ineffective the lumbering government bureaucracies on both sides of the border are against ruthless drug-trafficking entrepreneurs. The gangsters run circles around the drug warriors while bureaucrats record the carnage.

Take the March 2009 cable marked “Ciudad Juárez at the tipping point,” which is signed by Chargé Daffaires Leslie Bassett. It describes Mexico’s 2008 “response to a then unprecedented spasm of violence” in the northern state of Chihuahua with “the deployment of some 2,000 military and 500 federal police officers.” It goes on to say that while the operation “succeeded to an extent in disrupting the cartels . . . as a public security effort [it] proved to be a significant failure.” That’s why, “as bloodshed in Juárez continued to escalate in the first months of 2009,” the government decided it would “deploy an additional 5,000 troops and 2,000 federal police officers to the area to retake control of what was a quickly deteriorating situation.”

That produced a “dramatic–if possibly temporary–drop in violence since the arrival of federal forces.” But the cable also noted that no one knew why. None of the theories involved the possibility that the good guys were winning. The Juarez city government “suggests the operation is causing the ‘cockroach effect,’ forcing cartel operatives to scatter and relocate to other border states.” Meanwhile, U.S. law enforcement officials and the Mexican army believed that the mobsters were “simply lying low to observe and collect intelligence” and that they would likely “renew the fight.”

Paramilitary gangsters are operating as soldiers in what has become an actual, real war which is endangering the U.S. border. 

Is that improvement?

It is so predictable. (And needless to say, both M. Simon and I have repeatedly discussed this hopeless situation.) Anyway, now that it’s become a real war (which has even the Russians concerned), what are we on this side of the border supposed to do? Set up peace studies programs and get the paramilitary gangsters into conflict resolution groups?

Sorry to sound so sarcastic, but I keep seeing these ridiculous bumper stickers that say “TEACH PEACE,” and I am always tempted to ask the self appointed “teachers” why they can’t go where they’re most needed. Clearly, the drug cartel gangsters like Joaquin Guzman need education and maybe someone like Peace Studies Teacher Colman McCarthy could sit him down and show him that “there are alternatives to violence,” and that “poverty is at the root of violence.” Guzman is only in it for the money, and maybe he’ll understand that money is bad and he doesn’t really need to kill people and blow things up and stuff.

I’m thinking that music might also help. Already there are lots of popular songs about Guzman (who, btw, is “regarded as the 60th of 68 most powerful people in the world by Forbes Magazine”):

Many Mexican Artists paid tribute to Joaquín by making songs about him, his prison break, and drug ties. Some songs are: “El Chapo Guzman,” by Los Tucanes de Tijuana, and “El Regreso del Chapo,” which was made after he escaped from prison. “Chapo Cuerno y Cachucha,” by Los Buckanas de Culiacan. “El Nino de la Tuna”, by Roberto Tapia. “La Fuga del Chapo”, by Los Originales de San Juan. “El Chapo”, by Noel Torres. “La Fuga del Chapo,” by Larry Hernandez. “La Charla,” by Enigma Norteño and Roberto Tapia. “La Plebada”, by Banda Imperior. “Balada de un Hombre de Baja Estatura”, by Los Buitres.

That last one especially intrigues me, because it translates as “Ballad of a Short Man” and Guzman is a little guy like me. He is known as “El Chapo” which means “Shorty.” He was born to a poor family and sold oranges as a child, so I’m thinking he might have at some point gotten the idea into his head that he could make more money selling drugs which his richer neighbors to the north want to buy. Unfortunately, his success in making money (and as a tough guy who thinks that violence is the answer) only seems to have served as an inspiration to other poor people down there, whose poverty will cause more cycles of violence.

But if he had taken Peace Studies and Social justice courses, he might have learned how mistaken he was and devoted his energy to waging peace and defeating imperialism. Even now, it might not be too late!

Now, M. Simon and I have both proposed legalizing drugs, but now I’m wondering why we have never stopped to consider peaceful solutions like education? A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and it’s obvious that the drug gangsters are highly intelligent people. And if it’s all about people who had a lack of education needing money, then we simply need to solve those problems first, and then they won’t want the drug money will stop fighting each other for it.

As to the American drug consumers, why, all we need to do is have ever tougher laws and spend more money on law enforcement and also on anti-drug education programs! (It all sounds so familiar that I can’t believe we haven’t tried it before….)

But that way, there will be no buyers, no sellers, no violence and no poverty, and the whole darned drug war will have been solved. With just two slogans!