Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mexico: At war with us, at war with itself


You may be used to the idea by now, if it's possible to get used to such things, of Mexico playing the United States for a sucker by sending its frustrated, angry, and hopeless excess population over the border to form a rapidly growing underclass whose remittances help prop up Mexico's wretched economy; and that it violates U.S. sovereignty and encourages dreams of reconquista.

But worse -- far worse -- could be coming as Mexico continues its descent into an anarcho-gangster state.
Mexico has always been a square-wheeled country, with an extreme social class divide between its large mestizo population and its mainly Spanish-descended ruling class, its typically Latin flexibility concerning the rule of law, and its culture of bribery and corruption.

How many revolutions has it had? I've lost count, but it doesn't matter, because none have brought any lasting good. To some extent, in the past, its dysfunctional government and economy have been softened at the local level by a relatively benign climate, social and family networks, an easygoing way of life -- many Mexicans who don't wear uniforms are friendly and gracious -- and, in recent years, a modest economic boom based on natural resources, especially oil.


But the place looks to be coming seriously unwound, in ways that Americans may find it hard to grasp. They'd better start looking at the truth, for their own self-protection.

Here's some truth.

Kidnapping is a growth industry. But that's only a subdivision of the criminality, combined with the blood-soaked rivalry of drug gangs, that is turning the country into a North American Lebanon or Balkans.

According to Stratfor (requires registration), "Violence related to the drug trade is rampant in Mexico, where gunmen are every bit as brutal as the death squads in Iraq." But nobody, gangster or civilian, is safe. The list of events for six days, Stratfor reports, includes:

Jan. 19
A police officer in Tijuana, Baja California state, was wounded when he was shot multiple times by gunmen traveling in a vehicle with California license plates. At least 16 organized crime-related homicides were reported in Chihuahua state, including the fatal shooting of a police commander outside Ciudad Juarez.

Jan. 20
Police in Santa Isabel, Chihuahua state, found the bodies of six unidentified individuals with gunshot wounds. Authorities believe the victims were killed elsewhere. Police in Nogales, Sonora state, found three underground tunnels under construction, which were believed to be intended for use by drug traffickers. Three severed heads were found inside a cooler in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. A decapitated body was found a short distance away. Authorities believe one of the heads may belong to a police officer who had been kidnapped several days before. A police officer in Loreto, Zacatecas state, died when he was shot multiple times in a firefight with a group of gunmen. The husband of the mayor of Tiquicheo, Michoacan state, was wounded when he was shot at least 12 times by a group of gunmen.

Jan. 21
The mayor of Huehuetla, Hidalgo state, confirmed that he had fired all of the town’s 25 police officers. It is unclear why he fired the officers. A textile salesman in Moroleon, Guanajuato state, was shot to death when he resisted an apparent kidnapping attempt.

Jan. 22
Authorities in Durango, Durango state, reported the death of one man and his 3-year-old son during a grenade attack on their home.

Jan. 23
The well-known owner of a supermarket chain was killed when he was shot once in the chest in Tijuana, Baja California state, in what authorities described as an attempted carjacking. A federal agent died in Oaxaca, Oaxaca state, when he was shot multiple times by gunmen in a truck and on a motorcycle. At least 17 people were killed over a 24-hour period in Chihuahua state, including eight in the state capital Chihuahua.

Jan. 25 Mexican army forces arrived in Villanueva, Zacatecas state, and disarmed the city’s approximately 50 police officers as they assumed public safety authority in the town. The military deployment appears to have been prompted by a series of protests in the city by residents expressing concern over an increase in kidnappings in the area.

Another Stratfor article says:

There comes a moment when the imbalance in resources reverses the relationship between government and cartels. Government officials, seeing the futility of resistance, effectively become tools of the cartels. Since there are multiple cartels, the area of competition ceases to be solely the border towns, shifting to the corridors of power in Mexico City. Government officials begin giving their primary loyalty not to the government but to one of the cartels. The government thus becomes both an arena for competition among the cartels and an instrument used by one cartel against another. That is the prescription for what is called a “failed state” — a state that no longer can function as a state. …

It is important to point out that we are not speaking here of corruption, which exists in all governments everywhere. Instead, we are talking about a systematic breakdown of the state, in which government is not simply influenced by criminals, but becomes an instrument of criminals — either simply an arena for battling among groups or under the control of a particular group. The state no longer can carry out its primary function of imposing peace, and it becomes helpless, or itself a direct perpetrator of crime.
Meanwhile, the country's economic crutch, oil, is collapsing.


Aside from humanitarian reasons, should we care? Of course. All this isn't happening on the moon, or on the other side of the globe. It's next door, along a 2,000-mile border that, as far as three U.S. presidents (counting Obama) have been concerned, is no barrier to migration from the south. If you think the Mexican Invasion is a bother now -- and, of course, it is -- try to imagine what it will be like in a few years if Mexico fully enters into a death spiral.

What to do? The political left in the U.S., as well as much of the business establishment, will demand that we (a) buy off trouble by sending foreign aid, and (b) take in tens of millions of Mexican refugees on top of the bumper crop of illegals and anchor-baby families already here.

(A) is impossible. Money can repair damage from an earthquake or provide temporary relief from a disaster; it can't create a functional society where one does not exist because the local history, political structure, and values aren't there. Mexico needs a revolution, not necessarily a violent one, but a top-to-bottom remake. There is no other way. Aid money will just find its way into the pockets of one crook or another.

(B) would be incredibly stupid, a form of U.S. suicide. There would be no end to it. We would simply inherit Mexico's devastation,
become Mexico for practical purposes. Mexico is a diseased organism. We have no miracle drug to inject into it. Sometimes diseases can be overcome through the body's own defenses and self-healing system, and we can wish our neighbor well and encourage it to find its way to health. But infectious diseases have to be quarantined.

We need to defend our border, one of the limited number of powers the Constitution specifically assigns to the federal government.
Unfortunately, we have a federal government that asserts its power in all sorts of areas that are none of its business, while ignoring this clear responsibility. It needs to be reminded. We need to do the reminding.

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