Monday, December 12, 2011

Doubly Dumb

Several years ago I was visiting the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks and my host invited me to have lunch with a war college student who was a senior officer in the Mexican military. He laid out the status of the Mexican drug war at the time. Then, the drug war in Mexico was nowhere “on my radar.” Since then I have followed it closely as it has become more intense and far reaching and U.S. civilian law enforcement and military have become more involved on both sides of the border. The U.S. press has also expanded its coverage. The effects of these drug wars in Mexico on overall violent deaths, official corruption, reluctance to invest, and civilian and military enforcements costs have been huge and are growing. Mexico is at the brink of being a failed narco state on our shared southern border of almost 2,000 miles; a compelling threat to our national security. To allow this to happen when there is a partial solution available to the U.S. would be dumb. If this same solution to the Mexican drug crisis would also help solve the U.S. budget deficit problem and we didn’t do it would also be dumb. Thus you have doubly dumb.

The action I allude to above is to legalize marijuana in the United States thus weakening the drug cartels by taking this revenue stream and tax marijuana in the U.S. as we do alcohol and tobacco; two equally pernicious but socially acceptable and heavily taxed vices. I am not suggesting that marijuana is “good” or “helpful.” I am suggesting that there are two good reasons for taking this action that substitutes being pragmatic and smart for being doubly dumb and hypocritical.