Monday, February 04, 2013

Drug War Militarization

I was both psyched and disappointed to read this Associate Press article on how militarized the U.S. response to drug trafficking is in Latin America, which was above the fold in today's Charlotte Observer.

The good side was that this story needs to reach broad audiences. Politicians assume that "doing more" by showing how much we spend on helicopters, drones, guns, etc. appeases voters. Yet for many years it has been clear that on balance this strategy is not particularly efficacious. The article accurately discusses the balloon effect and other points that too often are downplayed when officials tout how much drug production has decreased in one particular country.

I am disappointed because this is old, old, old news and therefore should have become conventional wisdom a very long time ago. This ground has been covered in detail for many years in both universities and think tanks. So it is a reminder how hard it is to get empirical evidence to puncture what the government tells you.


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