Political Animal


January 12, 2012 11:30 AM ‘Why Mexico is Losing its Drug War’

By Steve Benen

In Colombia, for much of the last decade, Alvaro Uribe had considerable success combating a narco-insurgency. U.S. officials were impressed enough to try to export the Uribe model to other Latin American countries, hoping to duplicate the success.

Did it work? Unfortunately, no. Elizabeth Dickinson tackles the issue in a new piece for the print edition of the Washington Monthly, and this editors’ summary set the stage for an interesting piece:

For the past several years, international drug warriors have taken their cues from one success story — Colombia. Under the presidency of Alvaro Uribe, between 2002 and 2009, the perennially troubled South American nation made heavy use of American aid to expand its military and overcome a fierce, decades-old narco-insurgency. Since then, the U.S. has helped export Uribe’s strategies to Mexico and to countries across Latin America, even to Afghanistan.

The problem is, they’re not working. And in Colombia itself, drug violence is on the rise again. As Elizabeth Dickinson reports from the ground in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly, Uribe’s ideas have been misapplied and his victory misunderstood — calling into question nearly every fight in the drug war.

To read “Fighting the Last War,” click here.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • DAY on January 12, 2012 12:08 PM:

    Perhaps decriminalizing possession would help in this so-called "war".

    But that won't happen; powerful interests are getting billions of taxpayer dollars to continue this longest running American conflict.

  • retroafric on January 12, 2012 2:19 PM:

    Why is Mexico's "drug war" an unwinnable failure...?

    Perhaps the multi-billion dollar demand for the narcotraficantes product form their rich neighbor to the North has something to do with it...?

  • Goldilocks on January 12, 2012 2:22 PM:

    What's the problem with drugs, for goodness sake? (Answer: the law.) Why not let people use drugs if they want to? At worst it's a victimless crime - and that's only because the law says so. Change the law and the problem is solved, except for people who just like wars.