One of the more interesting appointments of the Obama administration, for me, is Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Whether one agrees with her or not, Hillary has considerable experience as a Senator and as what some would describe as a former co-president. It seems strange to hear Hillary Clinton’s blunt condemnation of America’s “insatiable appetite” for illegal drugs in an administration that relies heavily on polls, presidential popularity, and teleprompters to reach the American people with their message.
Whereas Janet Napolitano has so far been a place holder at Homeland Security, Hillary’s been out front on issues ranging from North Korea’s missile plans to the drug cartel problems America faces with its continental partner, Mexico. Where Mrs. Napolitano seems to regard it as something of an accomplishment to neutralize the blunt language of the previous presidency, Mrs. Clinton has warned North Korea of consequences arising from its scheduled missile launch and bluntly decried America’s huge consumption of illegal drugs. Her statement yesterday, after meeting with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, stands out all the more in contrast with President Obama’s unwillingness to define policies which haven’t been thoroughly aired in public discussion. It was just a few days ago that |President Obama defended his delayed reaction to the AIG bonuses by saying “I don’t like to talk about things until I know what I’m talking about. Admirable, but conservatives believe that all of his policy statements about the economy fall into that category.
But President Obama early on recognized that he had to take a clear stand on the cartel problem and ordered several hundred more agents to the border. His Attorney General, Eric Holder, prepared the groundwork for the initiative in a series of statements condemning the shipments of cash and guns to Mexican drug lords, statements which some critics construed as targeted more on American gun culture than on the cartel drug problem.
The new agents ordered to the border states are a mix of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Immigration department agents. While this provides much needed reinforcement, the Wall Street Journal reported today that BATF officials and other federal agencies are engaged in a jurisdictional conflict over border deployments. A former Immigration Department official, appearing on Fox News this morning, criticized the move because the president’s directive shifted Immigration enforcement agents from 250 cities where they were needed to combat drug gangs operating in those cities.
If Hillary Clinton is correct in blaming America’s untrammeled drug consumption as the primary cause of drug violence in Mexico and the United States, then the administration focus should be on precisely that. Consumption of illegal drugs has plagued all presidents since Nixon and, instead of mitigating, the prevalence of drugs continues to increase in our society. From Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” admonitions to Bill Clinton’s emphasis on stepped up “interdiction,” the drug traffic has grown at a pace that would be enviable in any other business. Most of the violence in our society bears some relationship to illegal drugs, the latest example being that of Lovell Mixon, the convicted drug offender and parolee, who last week killed four Oakland, California police officers.
Like previous administrations, the Obama administration has not offered a national drug policy which recognizes the degree to which illegal drug markets factor into the American economy. The problem affects the American suburbs and rural areas as much as the American ghetto where Mixon sold drugs. An even deeper problem is that there are entire American communities which live in fear of being branded “snitches.” Indeed, residents of the apartment where cop-killer Lovell Mixon hid protected him from the police who were searching the complex. An earlier warning by responsible citizens might have saved Mixon’s life, as well as the lives of two officers who were shot to death while trying to arrest Mixon for the previous murders.
Just about everyone in America knows about, has personally experienced, or has come in contact with illegal drugs and persons who consume or distribute them. President Obama admitted to cocaine use in one of his books. Our comedians get laughs from illegal drugs, our films and film stars glorify the gangs which merchandise them, and our mainstream reporters adopt the language of rap and the culture of “bling” to impress their celebrity friends and mesmerize the young. But there is a price to pay, and America is paying it, with cash in the billions flowing South of the border to buy who knows what and death in the thousands on both sides of it.
Is the new Obama administration initiative going to do anything more than perorate while the drug caravans keep rolling? Blaming thousands of deaths through drug violence on guns is like blaming auto manufacturers for thousands of deaths by motor vehicle. Interdiction is important, but so is stopping consumption and the underground drug economies which threaten urban, rural, and suburban communities. Hillary Clinton took the first step by admitting America is the target market of an enormous amount of drugs from Mexico. Will there be a second step? Not without abandoning the culture of political correctness.