Demand for drugs is the problem so let’s fight the supply!

Good for Hillary Clinton for stating the blatantly obvious fact that Americans’ “insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade” and is exacerbating the violence in Mexico. But if the Obama administration is acknowledging that the drug trade is largely a demand-side issue, why is it still pursuing a supply-side solution? Washington on Tuesday ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
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LAREDO, TX - AUGUST 07: U.S. Border Patrol agents load more than 400 pounds of marijuana seized from drug smugglers after it was brought across the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the United States August 7, 2008 near Laredo, Texas. Stopping drug traffickers, illegal immigration and securing the nation's borders in general have become important topics in this year's presidential campaign. Since 9/11 the Border Patrol has grown by about a third to more than 15,000 agents stationed along the Mexican border from Texas to California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Good for Hillary Clinton for stating the blatantly obvious fact that Americans' "insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade" and is exacerbating the violence in Mexico. But if the Obama administration is acknowledging that the drug trade is largely a demand-side issue, why is it still pursuing a supply-side solution?

Washington on Tuesday said it plans to ramp up border security with a $184 million program to add 360 security agents to border posts and step up searches for smuggled drugs, guns and cash.

The Obama administration plans to provide more than $80 million to buy Black Hawk helicopters to go after drug traffickers, Clinton said.

Good for Hillary Clinton for stating the blatantly obvious fact that Americans’ “insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade” and is exacerbating the violence in Mexico. But if the Obama administration is acknowledging that the drug trade is largely a demand-side issue, why is it still pursuing a supply-side solution?

Washington on Tuesday said it plans to ramp up border security with a $184 million program to add 360 security agents to border posts and step up searches for smuggled drugs, guns and cash.

The Obama administration plans to provide more than $80 million to buy Black Hawk helicopters to go after drug traffickers, Clinton said.

What was that about “insatiable demand”?

The new spending shows that the administration is taking the problem seriously, but I’ll take the power of supply-and-demand over security agents and helicopters any day. (See Blake’s take-down of William Saletan’s “high-tech” solution for smuggling in Gaza.) The U.S. has spent over $6 billion on a military solution to Colombia’s drug production and all we have to show for it is a 15 percent increase in cocaine cultivation.

Maybe it’s time for some more out-of-the-box ideas.

John Moore/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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