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Militarizing The War On Drugs46:09
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With Mike Pesca in for Tom Ashbrook

The war on drugs is now being fought like the war on terror – with armed soldiers instead of cops. We’ll take a look.

A Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent, right, participate in a training for Guatemalan anti drug agents. The United States supports the struggle anti drugs with the plan Mayan - Jaguar in Guatemala. (AP)
A Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent, right, participate in a training for Guatemalan anti drug agents. The United States supports the struggle anti drugs with the plan Mayan - Jaguar in Guatemala. (AP)

The war on drugs is beginning to resemble a real war now more than ever before. Its not just the horrifying death toll in places like Mexico and Honduras, it’s the method of American interdiction: Small, commando-style units have busted drug rings and killed dealers in foreign countries. Nations. Anti-drug agencies are taking a page from the counter-terrorism playbook.

But the conflicts are different and the tactics don’t always translate. As one critic of the new war on drugs says, its impossible to kill your way out of this problem.

This hour, On Point: The battle over the war on drugs.
-Mike Pesca

Guests

Steven Dudley, co-director of InSight, a joint initiative of American University and the Fundación Ideas para la Paz in Colombia, South America, aimed at monitoring, analyzing and investigating organized crime in the Americas.

Bruce Bagley, professor of international relations and chair of the department of international studies at the University of Miami.

James Poulos, a columnist at The Daily Caller and a contributor at Ricochet. his recent article in Foreign Policy is “Gateway Interventions: Drones along the Mexican border, commandos in Central America — the war on drugs looks more than ever like a real war. But do Americans have any idea what they're getting into?"

From The Reading List

The New York Times "The D.E.A. now has five commando-style squads it has been quietly deploying for the past several years to Western Hemisphere nations — including Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize — that are battling drug cartels, according to documents and interviews with law enforcement officials."

Foreign Policy "The war on drugs has settled — along with the drug trade it seeks to combat — into something that far exceeds the ambit of mere law enforcement, yet falls far short of necessitating the mobilization, intensity, and mission clarity found in a proper war. It has long blurred the distinction between police action and armed conflict. The same drones patrolling the Pakistani frontier cruise the Mexican border. Domestic SWAT teams now frequently conduct no-knock raids in American hometowns reminiscent of U.S. tactics during the worst days of the Iraq war. "

InSight "To be fair, there are some parts of the strategy that are positive. There is a clear recognition that transnational organized crime (TOC) is a potent force that undermines communities, governments, and economies across the globe. There is also a recognition that this is a complex, multi-layered problem that requires an equally complex multi-layered solution."

This program aired on November 16, 2011.

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