More On Mexico`s Meltdown: Bush Team`s Parting Assessments Should Alarm Obama

As George W. Bush`s reign wound down, more alarming
judgments about the President`s favorite neighbor, w:st="on">Mexico, trickled
out.

First there was a report here, then an
uncharacteristically honest remark there, about our
narco-neighbor to the south.

In fact, there was a torrent of truth at the end of the
Bush administration—to the point where bad news about
Mexico
`s

worsening chaos
was reported with an uptick in
urgency by the mainstream media, complete with punchy
headlines like

Mexican
collapse? Drug wars worry some Americans

[AP,
January 18, 2009
].

Even the Wall Street Journal warned of "a failed state next door".
[Mexico`s
Instability Is a Real Problem
, by Joel
Kurtzman,
January 16, 2009
].

Most of the Main Stream Media [MSM] has long treated
border porosity with w:st="on">Mexico as not a real problem but
rather as something that has been blown out of
proportion
by right-wing crazies like me. But facts
and assessments in the last two months have grabbed the
reporters` attention because they are too dire to
ignore.

Even tone-deaf w:st="on">Washington must have
noticed
Mexico
`s carnage during
the last year. In particular, the

more than 5300 dead in drug-related violence
—twice
the number of 2007.

Victims included ordinary cops, police chiefs, soldiers,
journalists and ordinary Mexicans, as well as members of
warring drug gangs whose made up the lion`s share of the
fatalities.


Mexico
`s
national police chief,

Edgar Eusebio Millán Gómez
, was gunned down in front
of his home in May. Since 2000, 45 journalists have been
murdered in w:st="on">Mexico, with

ten deaths occurring in 2008
alone. Many reporters
consider w:st="on">Mexico the second-most dangerous
place in the world to work after w:st="on">Iraq.

Much of the leaking bad news has come from departing
Bush lieutenants who finally made realistic estimates of
Mexico
`s prospects for
genuine meltdown. (Nothing of the kind from the
President himself however, who is reputed to have

long-standing business connections
with

unsavory Mexicans
. His extraordinary blind has
caused me to call him

The MexiChurian Candidate
.)

Even a

Mexophile
like Ambassador Tony Garza spoke ill of
his ancestral homeland,

hinting at chaos
:

"Calderón must, and will, keep
the pressure on the


cartels
, but look, let`s not be naïve – there will
be more violence, more blood, and, yes, things will get
worse before they get better. That`s the nature of the
battle."

Garza
continued:

"The
more pressure the cartels feel, the more they`ll lash
out like cornered animals. Our folks know exactly how
high the stakes are."


[Emphasis added][
Mexico`s
drug violence expected to intensify in `09
,
w:st="on">Dallas Morning
News
,
January 4, 2009
]

Garza`s candid advice for
Americans

traveling to Mexico
: check State Department

alerts
at
www.state.gov
before their departure.

A w:st="on">U.S.
intelligence official based along the
Texas

border has warned that
U.S.

officials, American businessmen and journalists will
"become targets, if they`re not already.


When outgoing CIA chief Michael Hayden left
Washington
, he focused his
attention on two countries as trouble spots:

Hayden sees
Iran, Mexico as top issues
[Baltimore
Sun
, By Greg Miller, January 16]. He warned that w:st="on">Mexico`s worsening narco-violence
could require more help from the w:st="on">United States if it is to be
contained.

Given declining border conditions, Homeland Security
boss

Michael Chertoff
put a few more cards on the table
recently.

In his January 7th wrap-up published in the New York
Times,
Chertoff expressed a realistic view of w:st="on">Mexico, rather
than the hollow promises of


"partnership"
one often hears from the

State Department
. The news here is the planning for
a w:st="on">US military presence on the border
in the case of a security meltdown in w:st="on">Mexico that would directly affect w:st="on">America:

From
his telephone interview with the
NYT, Chertoff
said:

"We completed a contingency plan
for border violence, so if we did get a significant
spillover, we have a surge—if I may use that
word—capability to bring in not only our own assets but
even to work with"
[U.S.
Plans Border `Surge` Against Any Drug Wars
,
 
By Randal C.
Archibold,  January
7, 2009]

Chertoff has expressed concern in recent months about
Mexican violence. But the DHS contingency plan has not
been publicly debated, nor has any announcement of it
been made. Department officials said Chertoff had
mentioned it only in passing.

It is nice to know that not all
Washington officials
are oblivious fools, although
they often do a fine imitation as a part of the
diplomacy expected in their jobs.

Pretending that
Mexico

is an excellent next-door neighbor—responsible and
normal—must require

Hollywood
-level acting skills, mouthing platitudes
like "It`s always a great pleasure to visit your
lovely country, el Presidente Calderon!"

Professionals in government are paid the big bucks not
to roll their eyes at those words.

Among the most serious reports have appeared recently,
one was issued by the

National Drug Threat Assessment 2009
,
published by the Department of Justice in December 2008.

Its

Summary
identifies
Mexico
as a clear
menace:



  • Mexican DTOs [Drug Trafficking Organizations]
    represent the greatest organized crime threat to the
    United States
    .

    The influence of Mexican DTOs over domestic drug
    trafficking is unrivaled. In fact, intelligence
    estimates indicate a vast majority of the cocaine
    available in w:st="on">U.S. drug markets is smuggled by
    Mexican DTOs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican
    DTOs control drug distribution in most U.S. cities,
    and they are gaining strength in markets that they
    do not yet control.

Another alarming analysis came from a
once familiar
C Capitol Hill bigwig, General Barry
McCaffrey.

His most high-visibility position was
Drug Czar
under President Bill Clinton, 1998-2001,
where he preached that

drugs are bad
.

These days, he runs his own consulting company, BR
McCaffrey Associates LLC
, which published a report
full of critical dangers,


After Action Mexico Report
.
[ w:st="on">December 29, 2008]

McCaffrey`s analysis warns of deteriorating drug crime
leading to a meltdown of the state, with the
worst imaginable outcome
for the
United States

“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 to escape the domestic misery of


violence
,


failed economic policy
,


poverty
, hunger, joblessness, and the mindless
cruelty and injustice of a criminal state.”

Another eye-opening report with a similar message of
Mexican chaos flowing north was a Defense Department
appraisal, the

2008 Joint Operating Environment
.

A widely-quoted remark from the paper: "two large and
important states bear consideration for a rapid and
sudden collapse:

Pakistan
and w:st="on">Mexico
."
 It went on:

“The Mexican possibility may
seem less likely, but the government, its politicians,
police, and judicial infrastructure are all under
sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and
drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over
the next several years will have a major impact on the
stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by
w:st="on">Mexico into
chaos would demand an American response based on the
serious implications for homeland security alone. “

Additional millions of Mexicans entering this country to
"escape" its

narco-culture of violence and corruption
would only
further burden the w:st="on">US with their
acceptance of criminal values. Remember that bribes are
normal for Mexicans, at least according to the
Washington Post:

For Many in Mexico, Bribes a Way of Life

[ year="2001" w:st="on">October 31, 2001].

Furthermore in
Mexico
,

criminals are admired in popular culture
, with a
whole genre of music dedicated to drug smugglers (narco-corridos).
But singers who desire a long life would be wise to
avoid angering the wrong traffickers.

Of course, a big indicator of Washington`s
misgivings about
Mexico

was the

Merida Initiative
which will disperse $1.4 billion
worth of equipment and technology south over a couple of
years.

Members of Congress were likely made aware of the extent
of w:st="on">Mexico`s dangerous instability to
encourage their “yeh
vote in favor of billions in spending to combat drugs.
In fact, the details of the U.S.-Mexico arrangement took
so long to work out because

Congress was fearful of Mexican corruption
and its
potential for human rights abuses.

That money could have been more wisely spent at home,
e.g. to

better equip border sheriffs
with improved
firepower. But somehow the idea of simply

keeping the bad guys out of the country
doesn`t
appeal to w:st="on">Washington.

Now Americans have a new President who has offered few
clues regarding what actual policies and actions toward
Mexico

that he might take.

Border protection was not debated during the lengthy
(but content-free) Presidential campaign because it was
too connected to the controversial issue of
immigration—and

both
the candidates preferred open borders.
Americans simply have no notion what Obama will do if
Mexico

blows up.

However, published reports and remarks made about
Mexico

in the last two months might enable Obama to formulate a
sensible response should the worst happen.

Departing DHS chief Chertoff and his colleagues in
national security have

drawn up contingency plans
to mobilize the

military
and
local police
to protect the border.

We cannot know what Obama will do if
Mexico

descends into chaos. But we do know that he has been
warned and given a written plan 
to follow—if (and when) he needs to.


Brenda Walker (email
her) lives in w:st="on">Northern California and publishes two websites,

LimitsToGrowth.org
and

ImmigrationsHumanCost.org
.


She is happy to at least have a change of flavor in the
White House, from Mexichurian to Hawaiian-Chicago.
Aloha, Dude!