Mexico – Failed State/Failed Policies?
It is a harsh, but probably true, reality. If Mexico is not yet a failed state, it could well be on its way to that end. Arguably, if a country cannot quell violence within its borders, it is on its way to failure; if a country has multiple gangs, in this case drug cartels operating seemingly freely within its borders, it is on its way to failure; if, despite increasing the deployment of troops to combat the drug cartels, the cartels continue to kill, the state is on its way to failure; finally, if thousands of its citizens are murdered by the unceasing drug violence and hundreds of its law enforcement officers are killed in the process, the state is on its way to failure. Yes, it is a harsh reality.
My position on the situation in Mexico has been clear since before I began writing on ThreatsWatch. The unrelenting drug violence south of the border represents a threat to our National Security.
Despite Felipe Calderón’s efforts to take on the drug cartels, he seems to be losing. Since taking office, 4000 people have been killed, with 450 law enforcement officers have died, including 4 of the top anti-drug officers being gunned down last month alone.
One of the problems is that the drug cartels and their militia are better trained and better equipped than the Mexican military. And perhaps even more problematic is that the drug cartels are often better equipped and armed than our own Border Patrol agents.
The United States has a clear interest and a clear obligation to help. This country is the main market for the methamphetamine cooked in Mexican labs and the cocaine moving through Mexico from the Andes. It is also the source of the traffickers’ weapons. And no fence will stop the gun battles from moving across the border.
Not only is the $1.4 billion dollar anti-drug package proposed by the Bush Administration paltry compared to the funds available to the drug cartels, but Congress (both the House and the Senate) have allocated less than the funds requested. This happens at a time when the drug cartel related violence has not only bled across the border, but is now occurring in places like New York and Florida cloned police cars are intercepting opposing cartel drug shipments. Often, the cartels are using extreme violence to extract information regarding drug shipments and locations of drug and arms caches.
So, in the final analysis, the question must be asked, who controls the country of Mexico? By some accounts, Calderón has committed 30,000 troops to the battle against the cartels, and yet, the violence continues and in many parts of the country, the cartels “influence” local politics. The battles and the bloodshed is both cartel against Calderón’s troops and the cartels against each other in an ongoing internecine war to control territory and the overall and lucrative drug transport to the United States.
According to the U.S. military, a civil war is a "war between factions of the same country; there are five criteria for international recognition of this status: The contestants must control territory, have a functioning government, enjoy some foreign recognition, have identifiable regular armed forces, and engage in major military operations." Mexico's drug cartels control, albeit unofficially, vast expanses of the country that are out of the range of government supervision. Even the U.S. government, which under the Merida Initiative plans to give $1.4 billion to Calderón to fight the cartels, seems to recognize that the criminal enterprises endanger the stability and sovereignty of the Mexican state. The hired guns of the Gulf cartel, known as the "Zetas," are black-clad Army deserters and vets who engage in regular major military operations, often against their former peers.
Recently, there was a discussion of whether Mexico was experiencing an “insurgency.” At that time, I commented that I believed that the situation was beyond the point of an impending insurgency, especially since the drug wars involved multiple disparate players and was really a turf battle. As discussed in one of my earlier entries, Mexico is a country of great instability, widely separate economic classes, and corruption. We need to pay attention to what is happening South of the border. Be assured that this is a problem that will last past the next Presidential election.