The Wall Street Journal reports that three politically conservative former heads of state in Latin America have declared the U.S.-led drug war on that continent a failure that is “putting the region’s fragile democratic institutions at risk and corrupting ‘judicial systems, governments, the political system and especially the police forces.’”

But it’s U.S. officials’ reaction that’s mind-blowing.

[Former U.S. Drug Czar John] Walters said increased violence in border areas of Mexico was partly a result of criminal organizations compensating for reduced income from the supply of drugs by turning to other activities, such as people-smuggling, and continuing to fight over turf.

U.S. law-enforcement officials — as well as some of their counterparts in Mexico — say the explosion in violence indicates progress in the war on drugs as organizations under pressure are clashing.

“If the drug effort were failing there would be no violence,” a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. There is violence “because these guys are flailing. We’re taking these guys out. The worst thing you could do is stop now.”

Awfully big of Walters to so boldly sacrifice Mexican lives in order make it marginally more difficult for Americans to get high.