Juan Masullo (Leiden University)
15 October 2020 @ 14:00
“The Human Costs of the War on Drugs”
Abstract: What determines popular support for the militarization of security? Are people sensitive to casualties resulting from military operations? We tackle these questions in the context of Mexico’s longstanding \war on drugs”. In two experimental studies, we manipulate the presence of human costs in a military operation against a drug lord, and present arguments either justifying or condemning these costs. The results show that, even when operations succeed in capturing criminals, support for militarization decreases if civilians are killed or injured in the process. Support does not decrease when casualties are cartel members. While civilian casualties reduce support in both violent and relatively peaceful areas, the evidence suggests that Mexicans might be willing to accept these costs when justified as necessary to eradicate crime. This study sheds light on the public opinion aspect of the militarization of security, and have important implications for policy debates on how to tackle organised crime.