THE BLOG

Drugs, Violence and Immigration: Think Twice, America

General John F. Kelly, who is the commander of US Southern Command (Southcom) in Miami, wrote a long article which was published yesterday in the Army Times, Military Times, and Navy Times. The piece is titled "Central America Drug War a Dire Threat to US National Security." It's a long one that focuses on the strategic threat posed by the illegal drug trade in Central America and the violence, death and destruction it has fueled in the region.

Gen. Kelly does not touch very much on the issue of illegal immigration from Central America to the United States, or specifically about the recent wave of tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants. But he does offer some useful insights about the violence in the "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that many people believe is the primary cause for the flood of migrants -- which are increasingly looking more like refugees than anything else.

The following three paragraphs are excerpts from Gen. Kelly's article. They should be read carefully by every American who uses illegal drugs and is under the delusion that it's okay because they're not hurting anyone but themselves. They should also be read by every American who believes all these migrants should simply be deported back to their home countries because, after all, they broke the law and... "hey, it's not our fault their countries are such a bloody mess."

By United Nations statistics, Honduras is the most violent nation on the planet with a rate of 90 murders per 100,000 citizens. Guatemala's rate is 40. These figures become more shocking when compared to those of declared combat zones such as Afghanistan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (28 in 2012). Profits earned via the illicit drug trade have corrupted and destroyed public institutions in these countries, and facilitated a culture of impunity -- regardless of crime -- that delegitimizes the state and erodes its sovereignty, not to mention what it does to human rights.

All this corruption and violence is directly or indirectly due to the insatiable US demand for drugs, particularly cocaine, heroin and now methamphetamines, all produced in Latin America and smuggled into the US along an incredibly efficient network along which anything -- hundreds of tons of drugs, people, terrorists, potentially weapons of mass destruction or children -- can travel so long as they can pay the fare. There are some in officialdom who argue that not 100 percent of the violence today is due to the drug flow to the US, and I agree, but I would say that perhaps 80 percent of it is.

More to the point, however, it has been the malignant effects of immense drug trafficking through these nonconsumer nations that is responsible for accelerating the breakdown in their national institutions of human rights, law enforcement, courts, and eventually their entire society as evidenced today by the flow of children north and out of the conflictive transit zone.

Think twice, America. Not so easy to wash your hands of it all. Um, how'd that saying by Mark Twain go... Oh, yeah... "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."

Subscribe to the World Post email.