by Conor Friedersdorf

Courtesy of Wikileaks, here's a rundown of how the War on Drugs plays out in various nations, as interpreted by the New York Times:

– In Panama, an urgent BlackBerry message from the president to the American ambassador demanded that the D.E.A. go after his political enemies: “I need help with tapping phones.”

– In Sierra Leone, a major cocaine-trafficking prosecution was almost upended by the attorney general’s attempt to solicit $2.5 million in bribes.

– In Guinea, the country’s biggest narcotics kingpin turned out to be the president’s son, and diplomats discovered that before the police destroyed a huge narcotics seizure, the drugs had been replaced by flour.

– Leaders of Mexico’s beleaguered military issued private pleas for closer collaboration with the drug agency, confessing that they had little faith in their own country’s police forces.

– Cables from Myanmar, the target of strict United States sanctions, describe the drug agency informants’ reporting both on how the military junta enriches itself with drug money and on the political activities of the junta’s opponents.

I've often remarked upon how our drug laws are complicit in creating a black market that destabilizes dozens of nations and ravages countless lives. What this story makes me think is that meddling in the affairs of foreign countries to this degree is going to provoke a whole different kind of terrorist to come after us sooner or later.

The D.E.A. now has 87 offices in 63 countries and close partnerships with governments that keep the Central Intelligence Agency at arm’s length.

Because of the ubiquity of the drug scourge, today’s D.E.A. has access to foreign governments, including those, like Nicaragua’s and Venezuela’s, that have strained diplomatic relations with the United States. Many are eager to take advantage of the agency’s drug detection and wiretapping technologies.

If only the conservatives who are always agitating to shut down a whole federal agency would pick this one. If only liberals wouldn't keep waging the War on Drugs everytime they are in charge of government.

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