A story in Reuters is headlined, “U.S. to blame for much of Mexico violence: Clinton.”
According to Secretary of State Clinton, “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians. I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”
Let’s stipulate that drug use in America is a factor in what is happening in Mexico, even as we stipulate that Mexico is largely responsible for what happens within its own borders. Perhaps it’s worth pointing out, then, that under Republican presidencies — Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush — drug use went down significantly (drug use dropped among high school seniors every year from 1985 through 1992). And during the Clinton presidency, drug use went up. Under President Clinton’s watch, more than 50 percent of our high school seniors experimented with illegal drugs at least once prior to graduation.
When President George W. Bush took office, drug use among high-school aged teens was at near all-time highs. Methamphetamine labs were proliferating and drugs were flowing into the country at an alarming rate. This was in large measure the result of the Clinton years and the Clinton policies. During the Bush presidency, illegal drug use by American teens dropped by 25 percent (and methamphetamine use dropped by 50 percent). Significant progress reduced the demand for and availability of illegal drugs in the United States.
So perhaps Mrs. Clinton shouldn’t blame the U.S. so much as she should blame political leadership on the drug issue — and save a spot at the top of the list for her husband. In order to make Secretary Clinton’s life easier — and life for both Americans and Mexicans better — let’s hope that President Obama follows the lead of his predecessor.