April 11th, 2012
01:05 PM ET

Beating the drug-war addiction

Editor's Note: Juan Gabriel Tokatlian is Professor of International Relations at the Universidad de Di Tella, Argentina. For more, visit Project Syndicate's great new website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter.

By Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, Project Syndicate

In January, US President Barack Obama nominated Marine Corps Lieutenant General John F. Kelly to head the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). Based in Miami, Florida, USSOUTHCOM runs military operations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and is the key US “drug warrior” in the region. Across the region, the key question, among civilian and military leaders alike, is whether the change in commanders will bring with it a change in focus.

The top priority for USSOUTHCOM is to fight narcotics trafficking from the Andes to the Rio Grande. With the Cold War’s end, fighting communism was no longer the US armed forces main objective; USSOUTHCOM increasingly concentrated on pursuing coercive anti-drug initiatives, and funds to fight the drug war were plentiful. But the change in commanders is an opportunity for the US to revise, at long last, its regional doctrine in order to address other pressing security needs. FULL POST

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Topics: Drugs • Latin America
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