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Friday, February 20, 2009

The War Next Door

Is anyone paying attention to Mexico?

There was this article in Thursday's edition of the El Paso Times, headlined "Death threats against Juárez police put force on high alert."  The article talks to four policemen being murdered this last week.  We are talking about right on the US border.

Basically, the article says there is a parallel government in Mexico, the drug cartels.  A parallel government, working in the shadows, is a classic signal of an insurgency.  The point is, Mexico as a democracy on our border, is seriously threatened.  It is not the illegal immigrants from Mexico that should worry us, it is the power of the drug cartels and the danger they pose to democracy south of the border, and within our own nation.

Someone I know from the Internet noted
The drug gangs have now turned to political mobilization to force the [Mexican] Army's withdrawal; it's entirely possible, if the violence continues, that we'll have a replay of the Swat Valley, where the people were willing to accept Taliban rule and Sharia law simply to have some kind of public order.  Mexico is in turmoil, the Army is apparently not able to control the violence (indeed, many soldiers with real talent get out and go to work for the cartels), and American support has been grudging and tied to all kinds of conditions about human rights and so forth.

There are two things worth considering.
  1. What can we do for Mexico? Congressional inactivity and disputatious support is our record so far, but our problem with the war inside Mexico is that it is a Mexican law enforcement problem that exists because of the North American drug market and is financed and supported by our own drug habits.  Certainly we should be giving them a few of the billions we're throwing around lately--this couldn't come at a worse time--but we also have got to do something about the market.  We are the cause.
  2. What can we do for ourselves?  The cartels' influence inside the U.S. is growing daily; their SOP is to knock off competing drug markets, which they are now doing, and then begin to knock off or buy out law enforcement and public officials who get in their way, which--I think--they are beginning to do around LA.
We need to get serious about Mexico before the comparison to the 1930s is not about the Great Depression but rather Prohibition, or worse, we will skip through the 1930s to 1916 and Pershing's Punitive Expeditionary.

Frankly, this situation in Mexico could make us forget all about Iraq and Afghanistan.

As for the US Congress being concerned about human rights abuses, there were 6000 deaths last year tied to the drug trade. That is a serious abuse of human rights, including the rights of quite a few policemen and women.  Of those, 1,600 were in Ciudad Juárez, just across the border.

It is easy to think that this is a problem for Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, but the drug trade is everywhere in the United States.  If this violence spills over into the United States it will spread across this nation like spilled milk across the kitchen floor.  A lot of spilled milk.

It would be a lot better to take this seriously now, and maybe even throw a couple of billion dollars at it.  If we wait until it blows up, we will have to spend a lot of time and military manpower and national treasure on it.  It is likely that American civilian bystanders will get caught in the crossfire and die.

One first step might be to legalize drugs and make the US Government the dispenser (or better yet, each individual State, with the Federal Government as the funneling source).  Frankly, while I have considered this in the past, there are arguments against it.  But, if not that solution, then what?  What we are currently doing is not working and hasn't been working for a couple of decades.  And, the size of the drug problem should tell us that this is not about minority citizens in inner cities.  This is a wide spread problem.

And yet, I see nothing on the pages of the local newspapers.  I don't hear people talking about this on the radio.  Few blogs present this in the stark terms that help us comprehend what is happening.  The US Congress is out of town on junkets and not paying attention.  The President has been to Canada and the Secretary of State to the Far East.  The Vice President has been dispatched to Germany.  Who went to Mexico?

We are being lousy neighbors and if our neighbor's house burns down we are likely going to have some problems.

Regards  --  Cliff


Craig H said...

Can't help but realize and point out first that WE have created this situation by our own mixed up "war on drugs". Not only do we incarcerate our citizens at a rate unparalleled anywhere else in the civilized world, (at huge expense to ourselves), but we also expend vast amounts of our law enforcement resources (that would otherwise be free to protect us against terrorists and other threats) in the creation of the very economic incentives by which these criminals flourish. Prohibition created Capone, and todays misguided "war on drugs" has created a destabilized nation and an extremely dangerous situation directly to our south.

I say cut them off at the till. (The same strategy would go a long way toward starving the Taliban of economic resources with which to fight us, too).

C R Krieger said...

Someone I know sent me some notes.  Noted my error re President Obama and President Calderon.  Kudos to President Obama.  The notes:

--Obama's first call to a foreign leader was to Calderon.  His first visit was to Canada.  I hope he realizes how important our hemisphere is.
--The Merida Initiative (Bush) was approved for $1.6 billion over 3 years, but only the FY-08 supplemental funds are used until Congress
"reviews" the plan.  Congress wants reform; Bush et al wanted enforcement and security first. [Cliff Note:  I am with Bush et al on this.]
--Canada says it is already affected by the problem, that the problem is not limited to Mexico but affects Central America and the Caribbean.  DHS has billions but no plan other than the "stupid fence."
-- Mexico is our 3rd largest trading partner and 4th supplier of oil.  Canada is # 1 in both.

The correspondent finishes up:  "Don't have to be too brilliant to figure out why we should give a damn."

Regards  --  Cliff