Sending Our Losingest Warriors Abroad

by Conor Friedersdorf

In response to the disconcerting news that the Obama Administration is sending dozens of DEA agents to Afghanistan, Kelley Vlahos writes:

Does anyone else think it odd and just a bit mission creepy that “the most prolific expansion in DEA history” would occur on foreign soil? This expansion, or “surge,” will come in the form of “dozens of DEA agents” descending on Afghanistan, because, as one DEA official pointed out, after eight years of fighting to prop up the central government there, President Hamid Karzai & Co. are apparently unwilling and unable to resolve the drug problem themselves.

So, enter the American Drug War, Afghan style. Unfettered by anything resembling the U.S Constitution, DEA agents are seemingly given carte blanche to go after Afghan drug kingpins belonging to the Taliban or “influential tribes allied with it” and hauling them back to U.S federal courts if need be. Their task also includes pursuing corrupt government officials fingered as assisting the $4 billion drug trade.

Why do I label this news disconcerting?

-- Ultimately the only effective way to stop enemies abroad from enriching themselves off black markets in narcotics is to legalize drugs, thereby ending the black markets. The idea that sending a few dozen DEA agents to Afghanistan will solve the problem is fantasy that is contradicted by decades of experience.

-- These DEA agents, who will be "unfettered by anything resembling the US Constitution," are inevitably going to return to the United States, where they'll be sorely tempted to employ the most effective methods that they learn abroad on American citizens. It is a bad idea to militarize civilian law enforcement personnel!

-- This seems to be just one more way that the executive branch can sidestep Congress while increasing America's foreign entanglements. In the future will we send DEA agents to any country where drugs are being produced and enriching terrorist organizations? Which is to say, will we send them anywhere and everywhere?