Sunday, January 02, 2011

Mexico: The greatest threat to American national security

Forget Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and North Korea. They are all on the other side of the world. And while what goes on there is not unimportant, they don't border the United States. Mexico does. And right now Mexico is dangerously close to collapsing into near total anarchy.

There is a technical term for this. It is called a "failed state." Several years ago Mexico declared war on the drug cartels that have been running much of the country for years. As of right now that war is going very very badly. Massive efforts by the police (hugely corrupt) and even the armed forces to reign in the drug gangs which operate like feudal lords over whole swaths of the nation have merely provoked an almost unimaginably horrific backlash.

Violence directed at both the government and rival gangs has reached levels that make Afghanistan look relatively safe by comparison. Mass murders, kidnappings, torture (often videoed and posted on the internet) have become so commonplace that a powerful sense of defeatism has set in at every level of society. Confidence in the government is now all but extinct. Not long ago one of Mexico's leading newspapers responded to the most recent kidnapping and torture-murder of one of its reporters by posting a front page open letter from the paper's editors to the drug cartels. In the letter they asked for instructions on what they would be permitted to print in order to avoid any further killings of their staff.

All of this of course is being supported by the United States. Even as our government aggressively encourages Mexico to carry on a war that almost everyone admits is lost we are bankrolling the drug cartels with tens of billions of dollars from the underground drug trade and providing the Narcos with an arsenal that most third world countries would envy in the form of American made firearms and ammunition smuggled and often even openly carried across the border from the United States into Mexico. I am not talking just hunting rifles and shotguns folks. I am talking about .50 caliber rifles that can be legally bought at gun shows in Texas and that will punch holes in "bulletproof" glass along with even more lethal weapons of war.

I suppose we could call it reciprocal trade. They send us thousands of tons of narcotics and a million or so illegal immigrants every year and we send them billions in Narco money and enough guns and ammunition to fight a very real war. (A war that the Narcos are currently winning.) On second thought maybe we should call this Santa-Anna's revenge.

In any case entire cities are being abandoned by desperate and frightened people. Terror now stalks Mexico. And terrified people who have lost any trust or respect for their government, and any confidence in the rule of law are dangerous. In some ways perhaps as dangerous as the Narcos. I don't care how isolationist you are. Mexico is too close to ignore. What happens there affects us.

If Mexico disintegrates into anarchy (a very real possibility), the spill over is going to hit us like a brick in the face. If you think we have an immigration problem now just wait until a nation where 112 million people are faced with living in an utterly lawless society ruled by armed gangs with little hope of even being able to keep their families from starvation. A society where the economy and every aspect of a normal civilized society that we take for granted breaks down.

There will be a human tidal wave rolling across our southern border. And we won't be able to stop it unless we are prepared to order troops to fire on civilians, whole families, including women and children. We are already seeing a small foretaste of this. Many of the illegals here are coming not just in search of a better job or money, but to escape a world where they or their family members can be robbed, kidnapped, raped or murdered at any time with impunity. And of course these won't be the only ones rolling across the border.

The drug cartels will be coming with them. And again there is evidence that some of them have already begun moving into the United States. And lest there be any doubt on the subject, these are not people who are intimidated by our legal system. They shoot cops for sport and ambush military convoys to send a message about who is in charge.

This country had better start thinking about our backyard a little bit more. Mexico is far more dangerous than Al Qaida right now. We need to completely reconsider our attitudes about a whole range of issues before it's too late. I would suggest we start with prohibition. I am not wild about people using narcotics or selling them over the counter at the local pharmacy. But we need to face some painful facts. The war on drugs is over, and we lost. All we have done is spend billions of dollars criminalizing a very large percentage of our population and warehousing them at great expense in prisons, where we turn mostly non-violent consensual offenders into violent and hardened criminals. Because that is what prisons do.

And then of course there are the tens of billions we are sending to Mexican drug cartels because we are too stubborn to face the reality that if just legalized the damned drugs it would put most of them out of business overnight. Teenagers who now kill each other over who has the commercial rights to which street corner are not going to be doing that when a hit of your drug of choice can be bought legally in a drugstore for about 20 cents. There is no percentage in it.

On the other hand if we are not prepared to end this insane war we had better start rethinking the rules of engagement. Because the drug cartels are not paying much attention to the Geneva Convention. How far are we prepared to go to block out the humanitarian catastrophe in Mexico that we are engineering? How much power are we prepared to hand to the government to deal with ultra-violent cartels as they begin moving into the United States? Are we prepared to suspend Habeus Corpus? What about martial law?

Where are we going to lock all of these people up? Our prisons are already exploding in population. And we won't be able to deport people to a country that will have effectively ceased to exist. And where are we going to get the money to fight the next stage of the failed war on drugs? From a Congress dominated by people who have a stroke of apoplexy at the mere mention of the word "tax?"

Just some food for thought. But I would strongly suggest we start thinking hard, and fast. Time is not on our side.


CJ said...

I'm also in favor of ending prohibition, but I wonder how effective it would be in reducing the cartel violence.

With alcohol prohibition, there was already a significant infrastructure that could be restarted with little trouble. The product was also available from a friendly neighbor (Canada).

While there's plenty of marijuana grown here, we don't have much in the way of poppies and coca. It would take some time for any homegrown industry to be able to meet demand. The supply would still have to come from latin america and the golden triangle, and there would still be the same fights over cropland and supply routes. Hell, I wouldn't put it past these thugs to firebomb Walgreen's or CVS to convince them to stay out of the narcotics business.

Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

I agree with about everything you say.
Mexico and the Mexican people have had centuries to get their act together and just can't seem to do it.
The U.S. response will be too little too late plus, like in the middle east, they don't understand what they are dealing with. They will want to hold peace conferences the cartel leaders.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of weapons systems the cartels own came directly from Mexican military deserters or corrupt officials who outright gave or sold it to them.

rabidgandhi said...

Sounds more like the US is the greatest threat to Mexican national security. But there's nothing new about that.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

A point well made.


The Anti-Gnostic said...

The US government exists to exploit the nation's territory, not to protect it. Consequently, the most patriotic fighters--the Marines and Special Forces--are kept far, far away.

How ironic that we spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives to preserve the cultural and territorial integrity of Iraq and Afghanistan as Islamic nation-states.

I'm guessing a number of Army and National Guard units are already infiltrated by Meso-American gangs. They will not fire on their kinsmen, and will supply valuable intelligence and material to the cartels.

Thus ends the liberal society, because it cannot defend itself against assault by illiberal peoples.