La Riposte

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The War Next Door

In a rugged desert country, militants sow terror, behead their captives, fight against a weak central government, and fill mass graves with the bodies of their victims, financing it all with a lucrative trade in drugs consumed by richer countries abroad. But there’s no international outrage here, no hue and cry, and certainly no international military force intervening to aid the endangered citizenry here.

While the U.S. led occupation of Afghanistan drags on into its 9th year, and consumes 4 billion dollars a month in an attempt to deny a safe-haven to Al Qaida in a country where, by our own estimates, there are less than 100 Al Qaida members operating, a larger, deadlier war plays out within a few miles of the U.S. border – ignored by most citizens and governments of the world, including the United States, despite a death toll that exceeds that of the Afghan War by almost 10,000.

Since 2006, the internecine struggle of the major drug cartels with each other, and against their strawman opponents in the Mexican government has grown deadlier with each passing year, but nothing is being done by the international community to stop the bloodshed. And there is little publicity and less accountability for the atrocities that occur on a weekly basis just across the border from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Over 200 US civilians have been killed in Mexico, making it the most dangerous country in the world for them to travel – and the security threat is growing internally – 200 major U.S. cities have local branches of Mexican cartels operating in them – as opposed to the zero U.S. cities with a major Taliban presence.

One thing the United States has shown itself willing to do is to directly fund the Mexican cartels. Americans consume 300 tons of cocaine annually – one half the total world consumption. The other thing Americans do is arm the cartels – the majority of AR-variant (civilian version of M-16) and AK-variant weapons used by the cartels originate in U.S. gun stores.

The United States government has committed to give Mexico approximately 1.5 billion dollars in support over the next 3 years – about what it will spend for 2 weeks of fighting in Afghanistan. But this support includes no weapons or personnel. So what more could America do? Plenty.

We’ve often criticized Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan for failing to seal their borders to stop the flow of drugs, money, arms and people – we can begin by sealing our border with Mexico. Given that it’s 1969 miles long, that would require about 1000 guard towers manned by 2-3 soldiers, 3-4 shifts per day – a "surge" of about 10,000 troops should do the trick. Or we could hire private security firms to do the work, as there will be plenty of them looking for jobs now that President Karzai has given them the boot from Afghanistan. Then, we could turn the baleful eye of our Predator drones, and the warheads of their Hellfire missiles, on the SUV's and suburban compounds of known or suspected cartel honchos in Mexico, and perhaps even stand up a special operations task force with a list of targets for elimination. Finally, we could certainly license one or more of the major pharmaceutical companies to produce the 300 tons of synthetic cocaine required demanded by the American consumer, and to sell it for a price low enough to eliminate the current economic incentives for smuggling the natural product into the States.

We are willing to pay a pretty penny in lives and treasure to impose the “rule of law” in Iraq and Afghanistan  – why not in our own backyard?

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