"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Things we maybe shouldn't have overlooked

It's understandable, I suppose: we're about to have a major change in leadership in Washington, we're in the midst of a massive global economic crisis, and we're fighting two wars and piracy overseas. Thank God, you might think, at least we still have two oceans and two friendly neighbors to protect us from the worst craziness in this world. Apparently, you'd be right on only three out of four of those counts. Today, in a flurry of headlines, many different sources are sounding the same warning: Mexico is on the verge of internal collapse. I actually got an inkling of this a couple of weeks ago, when our base command sent out this report by retired Gen. McCaffery coupled by a warning that trips into Mexico were now essentiall verboten. We get these warnings occasionally when drug violence makes the news in Tiajuana, so I filed the email in my garbage folder and forgot about it. But today, we got the Joint Forces Command, the outgoing CIA chief, and a think tank weighing in on the subject, so I read all those and then went back, found Gen. McCaffery's report, and read it too; and the situation south of the border is incredibly disturbing. Perhaps you've seen pictures of drug-smuggling submarines and thought, "Oh, that's cute." What it actually shows is just how powerful and well-equipped the Mexican drug cartels are. McCaffrey's report is probably the most troubling. He details the heroic efforts of federal politicians and law-enforcement officials who've taken many risks in tackling the cartels head-on; and after contrasting it to the widespread corruption and infiltration of the judiciary, and state and local governments, one wonders whether Mexico's federal leaders might not want to get out while the getting's good. Mexico is fighting a losing war against the cartels, who kidnap, murder, and intimidate with virtual impunity, and who are armed - apart from their submarines - with night-vision equipment, anti-armor weapons, robust air transport, and a huge variety of military-grade equipment. According to all the above analyses, we are in real danger of seeing a 'narco-terrorist' state develop down there within the near future. Couple that with our porous border, massive illegal population, and the underground presence of Mexican cartels in both our border cities and around the country, and you have all the ingredients for a hugely bloody and violent national and domestic security problem. And we've been so busy watching the stock market at home and news reels from Iraq that this issue has caught us off-guard. And President-elect Obama already thought he had enough to worry about . . .

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think McCaffrey overstates things (as a former drug czar he tends to be excitable about this). I think there's more likely to be increased narco-terrorism in Mexico, but I don't think we'll see a nation-state of narco-terrorists (though how this would disrupt the eternal ninja-pirate conflict would be worth considering). I think this points to fundamental flaws in our approach to drugs. I don't mean to sound flippant, as organized, violent criminal organizations should be confronted, but wars on common nouns rarely end well and this is no exception. We provide money (& weapons, which he notes are often purchased legally in the US where we don't need no stinkin' waiting period...). I think we should continue to provide assistance to Mexico but reworking our approach to narcotics where we don't drive up the price without reducing demand (and without effectively increasing the cost on a marginal basis) would be a better idea. If that means, in some cases, going from a criminal paradigm to drug use to a substance treatment/civil paradigm, so be it. In any event, good find on these reviews-they make for interesting reading.

Cincinnatus said...

Wow, took me a long time to get back to this since I can no longer access it at work and I can't type that fast on my iPhone . . . anyway, bottom line I don't think we'd be looking at a unified state in any sense of the word, but rather something like pre-invasion Afghanistan (or, hell, post-invasion for that matter), with various drug lords presiding over their own fiefdoms while any semblance of central government power is destroyed or corrupted. I think the brave folks in the Mexican government who've done much to fight the cartels at great personal risk deserve whatever political and material support we can give them, as it's in our own national interest as much as Mexico's to fight. Should centralized power collapse, however, we need to look to our own borders, and that may require military assistance in places like San Diego that abut large Mexican population centers/cartel strongholds.