El Paso Times
We sashay our big American hips around Iraqi and Afghan politicians, but when Mexico messes us up ... shhh, we don't want to offend our friend to the south.
I say at least yell at Mexico. Instead, we just send money and keep our mouths shut about the massive drug war going on -- the war that is definitely affecting us.
Right across our river is the most violent city on Earth. And there's nary a reaction from Washington, D.C.
Psst, Congress, there's a major national security risk right next to one of the 25 largest cities in the land.
Meanwhile, we're over in Afghanistan "securing" ourselves. We're in Iraq because that makes us safer here in America. The Middle East is some 4,000 miles from D.C. Juárez is just a few yardsticks away from El Paso.
So it was good to hear one of our area congressmen, Ciro Rodriguez, and members on the El Paso City Council at least ask for suggestions on what to do. As City Councilman Steve Ortega said, "If you have any ideas, tell me. I want to hear."
OK, Steve, here's my idea: Get in Mexico President Felipe Calderón's ear. This war is affecting the $52 billion a year in trade coming across our El Paso ports of entry. There are 60,000 El Paso jobs relating to that trade.
We're afraid to go from El Paso into Juárez. They shoot people on main streets at high noon over there.
Probably the troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan should not be sent into Mexico to fight the armies of drug cartel Generalissimos Carrillo Fuentes and Joáquin "Chapo" Guzman.
How about legalizing marijuana in the U.S.? It certainly would help cripple the drug gangs -- they take in $23 billion a year in illicit drug proceeds.
I don't think we're ready to lift drug prohibition, although more and more people are saying it's a logical solution. That is, grow marijuana here. Sell it like some states sell alcohol -- in special state-run stores. Tax the heck out of it, too.
But we've put 30 years into telling our children to "Just Say No." Legalizing marijuana now would be like saying, "Eh, just be sure to smoke responsibly."
And, no, don't give Mexico more drug-fighting equipment because the $1.4 billion Mérida Initiative isn't working. As it is, all the Mexican president's men and all the Mexican president's U.S. helicopters can't put Mexico back together again.
Washington, D.C. has been too politically correct when it comes to another country's drug production.
As with Afghanistan, we tip-toe around Mexico's drug-making because it's so inbred into the nation's economy. As with the example of 60,000 El Paso jobs tied to trade, think of all the jobs tied to all the middlemen in Mexico.
Example: The drug kingpins often have a bit of Robin Hood in them. They do fund worthwhile projects that create jobs.
When $23 billion a year is made in drugs, why not help a city by building a hospital or a school? Druglords have mothers, too, you know. And if they're nice to you, you might not shoot them.
Turning that around is the job of the Karzais of Afghanistan and now Calderón in Mexico.
Geez, how can the president of a big country like Mexico be getting his butt kicked by gangsters?
It's time the Obama administration talks to Mexico like it talks to everybody else that messes with our economy and our national security.
So, no valentine for you today, President Calderón!