Drug War Fueled by Demand

By: The James Madison Institute / March 29, 2010

The James Madison Institute


March 29, 2010

By Robert F. Sanchez, JMI Policy Director
President Obama properly expressed outrage when three people from the U.S. Consulate in the violent border town of Juarez, Mexico, were brutally slain. It was yet another incident in the costly war between powerful and well-armed drug cartels and law-enforcement authorities on both sides of the border. Last year Juarez reported 2,400 homicides – virtually all of them related to the drug war. And as Spring Break loomed at many colleges and universities, the U.S. State Department was warning Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to Mexico. Indeed, Acapulco just experienced a massacre in which 13 people were slaughtered, so the warning made sense.Yet there is some irony in Mr. Obama’s current stance. According to his own autobiography, when he was a young man who went by the name of Barry Obama, he experimented with cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs.Commendably, Mr. Obama eventually turned away from drugs and toward furthering his education. However, it is “experimentation” by thousands of youthful “Barry Obamas” — plus the continued usage by those who become addicted – that provides the drug trade’s lucrative profits, which are used by the cartels in Mexico and Colombia and by the Taliban warlords in Afghanistan to corrupt their governments and undermine the fragile rule of law in those lands.It is not an overstatement to say that the blood of the innocents slain in connection with the drug violence in other countries is not only on the hands of our street-corner crack addicts, drug-cartel kingpins, and secretive white-collar abusers in business and politics.There is also blood on the hands of those Hollywood celebrities who glamorize drug use in the popular culture, then smilingly trundle off to rehab when they get nabbed for possessing drugs in amounts that would send a low-level crack-head off to prison.In short, it’s easy for Americans to blame Mexico (and Colombia) for shipping drugs into this country, but there would be no drug trafficking and no wealthy and powerful drug cartels outgunning the authorities if it were not for this country’s seemingly insatiable demand for illicit drugs – and that demand is fueled in part by the cumulative impact of people who use just a little bit because they’re “only experimenting.”