Washington’s war on the Colombian cocaine industry has been largely successful, but successful only in pushing drug cartels into neighboring Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. Coca farms and cocaine-producing facilities have simply jumped national borders to safer havens. Anti-American governments in Bolivia and Venezuela, in particular, use the cocaine industry to thumb their noses at the US. In 2008, the DEA accused a Venezuelan military general of being a drug kingpin; this month, Chavez promoted him to defense secretary.Before Colombia’s cocaine industry exploded in the 1980s, coca was largely produced and refined in Peru and Bolivia, where it is legal. Washington focused its anti-drug efforts on these places, assisting police and and shooting down planes suspected of transporting drugs. The result? Operations simply shifted to Colombia.Up pops a cartel, whack it. Up pops another. The drug trade adapts. A step forward in Colombia means a step backward in Bolivia. If there is a better policy than Whack-A-Mole on the drug war, nobody seems to have found it.
Drug War “Whack-A-Mole”