We need a comprehensive anti-drug policy

In “Venezuela Increasingly a Conduit for Cocaine,” Oct. 28, Juan Forero details how Colombian drug traffickers, finding their operations further disrupted by Plan Colombia, are setting up shop in the friendly environs of Venezuela, where they can “avoid pressure.”

There’s no hope for keeping cocaine off city streets anywhere as long as cartels operate with such mobility. If we are to focus on the supply side—even though that now seems like a losing strategy—we need a comprehensive policy that makes drug trafficking so costly that the traffickers back off.

The Bush administration, however, seems content to target the problem on a nation-by-nation basis. The Merida Initiative, designed to help fortify Mexican (and Central American) institutions in their own fight against drugs, exemplifies the sort of piecemeal approach that makes life relatively easy for the cartels. Even if the proposal does manage to discombobulate them, the trade is so fungible, it will just move to some Caribbean way-station or to a failed state like Haiti.

If we are to help our neighbors to the south battle drugs, we need to do so responsibly. That doesn’t mean trucking the problem from one country to another.