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Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon initiated a military offensive against his country s powerful drug cartels in December 2006, some 44,000 people have perished, and the drugs continue to flow. The growing violence has created concerns that Mexico could become a failed state, as U.S. political leaders also worry that the corruption and violence is seeping across the border into the United States. But, as detailed by Ted Galen Carpenter in his compelling new book, The Fire Next Door, the current U.S.-backed strategies for trying to stem Mexico s drug violence have been a disaster. Carpenter details the growing horror overtaking Mexico and makes the case that the only effective strategy is to de-fund the Mexican drug cartels. Boldly conveyed in The Fire Next Door, such a blow requires the U.S., the principal consumer market for illegal drugs, to abandon its failed drug prohibition policy, thereby eliminating the lucrative black-market premium and greatly reducing the financial resources of drug cartels. A refusal to reunce prohibition, demonstrates Carpenter, means that Mexico s agony will likely worsen and pose even more significant problems for the United States.
Ted Galen Carpenter is senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author or editor of 18 books on international affairs.