CNN's Lou Dobbs Is Clueless When It Comes to the Drug War
Mexico is experiencing a bloodbath right now thanks to drug prohibition. Drug wars are killing more Mexicans each year than Americans are perishing in Iraq. Three thousand Mexicans have died since January 2007. Lou Dobbs addressed the issue on Friday, May 9, after Esteban Robles Espinosa, the head of Mexico City's investigative police was assassinated. Mr. Espinosa's death came on the heels of Federal Police Chief Edgar Millan being gunned down Thursday outside his Mexico City home -- the tenth federal police officer killed by suspected drug cartel members in three weeks. Lou Dobbs was outraged by the mass killings and wondered whether Washington is paying attention.
While I appreciate Lou Dobbs' frustration with the mass killings, his analysis is totally clueless and his "solutions" will no doubt cause more harm than good. Here are three myths from Lou Dobbs that deserve attention.
Dobbs Myth No. 1 -- Washington Is Not Paying Enough Attention and Needs to Step Up Drug War
Lou Dobbs talks about our elected officials not paying attention and then quotes the White House press secretary calling on Congress to approve the Merida initiative. The law would provide funding to the Mexican government to "break the drug pipeline that ends up on America's streets." Far from not doing anything, our government's policy actually fuels the killings. For forty years we have been waging a "war on drugs" and "pushing" our failed zero-tolerance policies on other countries. Just what does our $40 billion-a-year drug war get us? Our prisons are exploding with nonviolent drug offenders, thousands die from street violence generated by prohibition's black market along the border, and drugs remain as plentiful and easy to obtain as ever.
In 2006, Mexican President Vicente Fox urged a bill that would drop criminal penalties for small amounts of drugs, but backed down after the uproar from the Bush administration. The problem is not what Washington is not doing, but what it is doing.
Dobbs Myth No. 2 -- We Need to Amplify the Drug War to Protect the Kids
Lou Dobbs and the Drug War Industrial Complex routinely argue that drug prohibition is there to "protect" the kids. Dobbs' correspondent Carrie Lee recycled the talking points from the ONDCP's press release and said in the same Mexico violence segment, "A new report from the White House finds teens in this country using marijuana are putting themselves at higher risk for serious mental health disorders and even suicide." Ms. Lee then goes on to say, "Most of the marijuana produced in Mexico is destined for U.S. drug markets."
Far from protecting kids, drug war-funded education programs have consistently misinformed our youth, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and disbelief. Despite 30 years of "Just Say No" rhetoric, half of all high-school seniors will smoke marijuana before they graduate. Teens say it is easier to get marijuana than alcohol, as drug dealers never check identification. The bitter irony of the drug war is that the same week the high-level Mexican police were murdered in the streets, 75 college students at San Diego State University were arrested for selling drugs. Yeah, the drug war is really protecting the kids.
Dobbs Myth No. 3 -- "Open Border Advocates Are Responsible for a Losing Role in Our Drug War"
What is a Lou Dobbs segment without slamming the "open border" advocates? Now Dobbs is blaming them for drugs coming into the country. We can't keep drugs out of maximum security prisons, but he thinks we are going to keep drugs out of the United States? Drug prohibition makes plants like marijuana and coca incredibly valuable. We can build as many fences and place as many agents on the border as we want, but as there are huge profits to be made, there will be people ready to smuggle and even to kill over the control of the massive, global drug market.
Lou Dobbs and the drug czar have huge platforms to spin their version of the drug war and their desire for a "Drug-Free America." We have tried to eradicate and incarcerate our way out of this problem for 40 years. There is nothing in the coca or marijuana plant that caused the 3,000 deaths in Mexico since 2007. Rather, it is prohibition that creates a profit motive that people are willing to kill for. Remember, when alcohol consumption was illegal in this country, we had Al Capone and shootouts in the streets. Today, no one dies over the sale of a beer.
It is time for an honest and open international debate about controlling, taxing and regulating illegal drugs so we can find an exit strategy from this unwinnable war. The health and well-being of the people of Mexico and the United States depends on it.