A column in foreignpolicy.com from Robert Haddick wonders if, with the murder of two consular employees in Juárez, this is "the week that Mexico lost the drug war". With all due respect and sadness for the deaths of the three people connected to the consulate, in a country where around 7,500 people were killed last year in drug violence, and in a city commonly referred to as the world's most violent, it would be odd to choose this as the straw that breaks the camel's back. Around 2,500 dead bodies were collected in Juárez in 2009, but evidently it's only when they are American that we need to start reconsidering the policies.
But even beyond that questionable landmark, determining whether and when Mexico will win or lose the drug war is just an asinine way of approaching the subject. As long as prohibition is in place, Mexico will never win the drug war, just as Colombia, for all its successes, hasn't under Uribe. Nor will Mexico ever decisively lose the drug war. It'll keep grinding along much the way it is now, trying to reduce the scope of operations for drug gangs as well as the nation's murder rates. Calling the whole thing a "war" is generations-old semantic trick, and if it's merely used as shorthand for "public security policies to confront drug traffickers and organized crime", there's nothing particularly wrong with the term. But when people refer to winning or losing as though this were 1944, as though either were a serious possibility, well, we are tossing sand in our own eyes.