Mexico's Meltdown Coming Here—Unless Washington Acts

Thousands of America's expensively-trained troops are fighting overseas. But what about the war right next door?

Official Washington puts on a happy face about Mexico, because Mexicans become miffed if Uncle Sucker speaks ill of them. But recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let slip that Mexico's drug crime is "looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago"—an indication that the Administration is not as sanguine about the Mexico meltdown as it pretends.

Another indicator of Washington concern: this recent story about an uptick in military links:

U.S. military helping Mexican troops battle drug cartels, By Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, November 10, 2010

"The U.S. military has begun to work closely with Mexico's armed forces, sharing information and training soldiers in an expanding effort to help that country battle its violent drug cartels, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

U.S. military officials have been hesitant to discuss publicly their growing ties with Mexico, for fear of triggering a backlash among a Mexican public wary of interference. But current and former officials say the U.S. military has instructed hundreds of Mexican officers in the past two years in subjects such as how to plan military operations, use intelligence to hunt traffickers and observe human rights.

"The Pentagon's counternarcotics funding for Mexico has nearly tripled, from $12.2 million in 2008 to more than $34 million in 2010, according to estimates by the Government Accountability Office. While that is a small fraction of the Mexican anti-drug money provided by the State Department, the funding is significant because of the history of chilly relations between the two militaries."

Curious: the Pentagon is concerned with Mexican public opinion—but not about Americans' reaction to increased involvement with our narco-state neighbor.

The new class of Congressional budget cutters should ask why any taxpayer's money is being spent on Mexico's internal affairs. The fact that the Pentagon has "counternarcotics funding" for Mexico in the tens of millions of dollars is outrageous—but the State Department funnels a lot more money south, and amounts are not public knowledge.

As I have pointed out for years, Mexico is rich. Its national grubby paw is always outstretched north for handouts, but it doesn't need charity. Mexico's national GDP is consistently among the top 15 in the world. Of course, the country does have huge numbers of very poor people. But "Mexico's elites live like maharajas" as William and Mary Professor George Grayson told the late lamented Lou Dobbs a couple of years ago.)

Mexico's leaders like to affect poverty to mau-mau ignorant American politicians, like President George W. Bush who promised $1.4 billion in a secretly negotiated aid package (aka the Merida Initiative) just because Presidente Calderon asked for it.

In fact, U.S. government honchos were dropping large hints last spring that military "assistance" was already going on with training and embedding intelligence agents with Mexican units.

But does America really want to train Mexican soldiers to a high level of military expertise? It did not turn out so well the last time: a number of elite Mexican soldiers were trained at Fort Benning in Special Forces techniques, but defected to become the extra-tough Zetas as enforcers for the Gulf cartel. They became their own drug gang earlier this year. [See Drug wars' long shadow, By Jason Trahan, Ernesto Londoño and Alfredo Corchado, Dallas Morning News, December 13, 2005]

Why not just put American troops on the border in serious numbers? Keeping the Mexicans out would be a more sensible strategy than sticking our overworked military in the crack house next door. We should use our troops for something useful, i.e. defending American land and people from invasion, as the Constitution directs.

For make no mistake: Mexico's civil war is definitely getting worse. The body count is increasing year by year, despite Presidente Calderon's best efforts. More than 28,000 have died in drug-related violence in the years since Calderon declared war on the cartels. Sixty-six Mexican journalists have been murdered during the past five years, and the country has been one of the most dangerous places on earth for reporters. Every week brings a new report of government officials murdered, from local police chiefs to the occasional higher-ups, like the former governor of Colima who was recently gunned down in front of his home. Mexico City recently warned expats returning for the holidays to travel in convoys and during daylight hours—for their safety.

It appears that Mexican organized crime is taking correspondence courses from Islamic jihadists. Who knew the gangsters needed any further inspiration? A recent Google search for "Mexico behead" got over four million results. Narco gang decapitations didn't exist before 2006, but now are common sign of who's in charge. A car bomb last summer looked a lot like a Hezbollah job. Some observers, like Rep. Sue Myrick, think there might be more than just style involved. (See Myrick: Hezbollah Car Bombs On Our Southern Border, September 2, 2010 on the Representative's website.)

After all, jihadist and Mexican drug thugs share a mutual interest in breaching the border. The cartels' smuggling infrastructure offers a helpful onramp for Islamic killers.

And Secretary Clinton used the right word: insurgency. The cartels have moved into direct control of territory, displacing normal government with a terrorist flourish. It makes their job easier, plus the gangs are imposing tax-like fees on residents and generally working their will.

We in the United States are now at the long-feared point of Mexico's violence "spilling over". Americans are being killed—like Arizona rancher Rob Krentz on his own land, and David Hartley as he jet-skied with his wife on Falcon Lake on the Texas border. The feds warn us by official signage that large tracts of US parkland in Arizona are no longer safe for citizens because of Mexican criminal incursion. How long will it be until border-area ranchers are told that their safety can no longer be even minimally assured by the government—just as the Border Patrol has reportedly been removed from some particularly dangerous areas?

General Barry McCaffrey, formerly President Clinton's drug czar, warned in 2008:

"A failure by the Mexican political system to curtail lawlessness and violence could result of a surge of millions of refugees crossing the US border…"

Not a pretty prospect—"temporary" residents are never sent home from America.

This September, McCaffrey delivered another tough message at the Harvard's Kennedy Center:

"What's going on inside Mexico? A couple comments.  One is both in the US governments, which tends to downplay the level of violence and its importance to us, as well as Mexico, there's sort of an implication:  I saw a bunch of figures floating around that Mexico's crime rate is miniscule compared to many other places; compared to Baltimore and Venezuela, and the murder rate was actually much lower.  That is sheer nonsense.  That's like an argument that 3,000 people murdered during 9/11 is background noise compared to the 15 to 25,000 people murdered per year in gun related violence in the United States.  Whoever heard of ... 72 immigrants would be bound and murdered for sheer caprice.  Whoever heard of squad-sized units of soldiers or police being abducted and tortured to death, behead and have their heads thrown into a police station.  Whoever heard of seizing on an annual rate as many automatic weapons as there are in a US army division, thousands of military hand grenades and RPGs and heavy machine guns and Mark 19 grade machine guns; the level of violence is unbelievable."

General Barry McCaffrey: Much at stake for US in Mexico's battle against deadly drug cartels, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, September 30, 2010

Mexico's propaganda is that America's Second Amendment is at fault for narco-violence. Presidente Calderon uses the idea like a club to guilt-trip US politicians. Obama and his gun-grabber pals are happy to blame American firearms rights for Mexican difficulties. But Fox News debunked this last year: The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S. In fact, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S. And you can't buy machine guns, grenade launchers and hand grenades in American gun stores.

But if drugs and guns were the problem instead of Mexico's cultural propensity for crime and violence—as shown by the widespread fondness for Saint Death, aka Santa Muerte—then California's Mendocino County and other big pot growing areas would be free-fire zones too. But they are not.

Incredibly, with all these escalating dangers, President Obama appears to have decided the week before Thanksgiving to remove most of the National Guard troops (a mere 1200) he sent to the border with such fanfare in August, although they became fully operational only in September:

"The Obama Administration plans to withdraw National Guard troops from the Texas, New Mexico and California borders by the end February under a new Southwest security plan, even as turmoil in Mexican border cities grows…

"'It's apparently a plan the Obama administration believes will save money. We don't need fewer National Guard we need more. We need to pass the Border National Guard Border enforcement act that would put 10,000 National Guard on the border,' [Congressman Ted] Poe said."

Obama administration plans to pull back National Guard from much of the border, by Sara A. Carter, Washington Examiner, November 19, 2010

Is the policy change a rare instance of budgetary restraint from the President, as Rep. Poe speculated? Maybe—but Obama doesn't mind spending endless billions on foreign wars.

Maybe Obama never got the memo that border security is national security. Or maybe his loony leftist pacifism really is off the charts, and pedestrian ideas like sovereignty are below his lofty One-Worlder agenda. The election is over, so why should he pretend to defend the border?

This is the reality: Mexico is a failing state. Its central government does not control its national territory and its efforts to defeat the criminal insurgencies aren't working.

Washington operates as if Mexico were a friend. It is not. Presidente Calderon has disrespected American sovereignty in every way that he can without endangering the US taxpayer-funded gravy train.

Pretending that there is no war next door creeping north is not a way to run a foreign policy. Our best hope today lies in the new pro-borders Congress pushing enforcement-only measures. Rewarding lawbreakers and allowing a permeable border with Mexico are not acceptable.

The National Guard Border Enforcement Act recommended by Congressman Poe sounds like a start, although a real military presence (with big loaded guns) designed to keep invaders out is what's needed. I

It's time for Washington to stop being the globalist World Police and get back to its fundamental duty: defending the sovereignty and security of these United States.

Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She hopes Obama can be retired to a cushy job at the United Nations in 2012. Being President of the United States is just too small a job for someone of his blinding brilliance.