Earlier this week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon told the Americas Society and Council of the Americas that if the United States cannot limit drug consumption–which it can’t–Mexico may abandon the drug war. From a Reuters report in the New York Times:

“We are living in the same building. And our neighbour is the largest consumer of drugs in the world. And everybody wants to sell him drugs through our doors and our windows,” [Calderon] said.

“We must do everything to reduce demand for drugs,” Calderon added. “But if the consumption of drugs cannot be limited, then decision-makers must seek more solutions — including market alternatives — in order to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organizations.”

He did not go into more detail, but the remarks appeared to be a softening of Calderon’s attitude towards state regulation of the market for drugs, which could curb the power of the cartels by taking away their profits.

Calderon is probably just threatening U.S. political leadership here because they live in constant fear of Mexico going wobbly on them, and he knows it. However, what Calderon said is far larger than him. He may not personally want to end the War on Drugs, but if the violence in Mexico continues unabated, the populace will demand some kind of radical change, and legalization of some kind seems to be the leading candidate right now.

I am interested to see how the federal government would react to such a scenario. Certainly, they wouldn’t allow Mexico to pursue its own policies without Yankee interference. I predict that they’d declare the whole country a criminal enterprise and seize it as part of the largest forfeiture case known to man. I’m sure there are some Texas oil billionaires who wouldn’t mind getting their hands on Mexico’s oil fields.

Of course, the U.S. would then be stuck waging Mexico’s drug war, and I doubt we’d meet with any more success than they have. But that’s never kept us from trying.