June 5, 2011
Proposed Policy for Mexico and the United States
The United States and Mexico are fighting what could be called a never-ending war, the war on the illegal drug trade. Drugs flow across the US-Mexico border seemingly unrestricted, even though both countries spend billions of dollars each year attempting to halt the flow of drugs. Drug cartels in Mexico operate with impunity, and have little regard for laws, regulations, and human life. Over 35,000 people on both sides of the border have been killed by these drug cartels since 2006, a number that continues to grow each day (Military, 1988). The flow of illegal drugs into our nation represents a major risk to our national security, not only from the drug themselves, but also in that the technologies and methods used to transport drugs can also be used to transport people and weapons into the country, giving terrorists another way of striking the United States. Terrorist organizations also use money generated through drug trafficking to finance terrorist activities here and abroad, further increasing the likelihood of a terrorist incident within our borders. This policy paper will identify what military forces are used in the drug war, new technologies available to increase border security, political options to assist the United States and Mexico in stopping the drug trade, and options for reducing the demand for drugs in the United States. The War on Drugs
The first step in fighting and winning the war on drugs is to give the war on drugs the same status and support as the war on terrorism. Drug traffickers are no different from terrorists, they just use different weapons. Our nation is at grave risk from both groups, therefore both groups should be treated equally. While a number of Acts and Directives have changed the way military forces are used in the war on drugs, room exists for further change, increasing the role of the military to a more proactive role, in which the enemy, the drug traffickers and drug cartels, are treated as enemy combatants and not criminals. Drug cartels do not operate with the law in mind, only the law of profit and loss. Civilian law enforcement, however, must stay within the laws of the country, be it the United States, Mexico, Columbia, or whichever country they represent. By making the war on drugs an actual war and not a criminal proceeding, we would be able to fight the drug traffickers and cartels on equal footing. Military Forces of Today
The use of military forces in the war on drugs has been limited by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. Established after the Civil War, Posse Comitatus was intended to remove the military from civilian law enforcement duties and return to a national defense role (Trebilcock, 2000). As drug trafficking increased during the 1970’s and 80’s, the methods and technologies used to bring drugs into the country became more sophisticated, and were beyond what civilian law enforcement agencies were able to counter. On March 6, 1981, President Reagan said that “Drug abuse is one of the graver problems facing the American public”, and “That if we failed to act we are running the risk of losing a great part of a whole generation” (Military, 1988). Subsequently, President Reagan and Congress created a National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) on drugs and security. The directive allowed for the coordination of United States operations and policy on illegal drugs. This directive, and other legislation that followed, set the stage for the drug war we have been fighting since. The military is uniquely qualified to help fight the war on drugs for a number of reasons, from a large amount of manpower to state-of-the-art sensors and surveillance systems (Miranda, n.d.). Additionally, the ability to project power outside of national borders and bring the fight to the enemy is a capability civilian law enforcement agencies do not have. The...