Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mexico should call in the Marines

By Edward Schumacher-Matos/The Washington Post
Friday, November 26, 2010




National pride is a good thing - until the water reaches your chin and your nation is still sinking. Mexico is not in that deep yet, but parts of the country are. Seven criminal cartels effectively control most cities and the drug trafficking lanes near the U.S. border, as well as their bases and production centers in the interior.

The Mexican government announced on Wednesday that it will send more troops and federal police to its northeastern corner near the U.S. border.

Yet the Mexican elite class and military remain too proud to do what they immediately should: Call in the Marines.

I say this a bit tendentiously to get Mexicans out of their nationalistic stupor. They, in fact, should call in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, too. But not in large units. Rather, Mexico is in dire need of American military specialists stationed within its borders to help the country build powerful electronic intelligence systems and train modern military and police forces to replace its suffocatingly hierarchical, outdated ones.

My saying this will insult many Mexicans, but I speak out of love for the country and its people. Mexico is neither a "failing state" nor a totally corrupt society, as - curiously - American nativists and humanitarians in the immigration debate claim (one wanting to wall off Mexico, the other to save Mexicans and invite into the United States anyone who wants to come).

But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was right when she said the cartels are "morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency." Mexican officials and media erupted in protest, and President Obama apologized.

He shouldn't have. The United States and Mexico have to recognize that cartels in Mexico and other parts of the world represent what a growing number of clear-eyed specialists are calling a new form of "criminal insurgency."

They are attacking the state from within through corruption and violence and seeking to establish areas of influence in which they can operate without restriction," Bob Killebrew and Jennifer Bernal wrote in a just-released study for the Center for a New American Security.

Where it interests them, the cartels have cowed the local police, politicians and the press through intimidation, executions, massacres and coerced bribery. More than 200,000 people have fled Juarez; the border maquiladoras that were a national growth engine are struggling; and many business leaders from Monterrey, the modern industrial center of Mexico, have moved to Texas.

President Felipe Caldern has bravely tried to break the cycle by going to war with the cartels; but after about 28,000 deaths, most Mexicans think the cartels are winning. Caldern's term is up in two years, and Mexico will face the choice to keep fighting or return to an older policy of live and let live with one or more of the cartels. The latter is looking ever more attractive.

Mexico thus needs military and police help now. Yes, more fundamental matters such as drug demand in the United States and weak institutions in Mexico need addressing, but those are long-term concerns. Not even legalization of drugs - which I favor - will make the criminal cartels go away. They are in many businesses now, and they have tentacles throughout the hemisphere and in every large and medium-size U.S. city.

What is getting in the way of deeper cooperation with the U.S. military is that the Mexican military, political and intellectual leaders, abetted by U.S. intellectuals, still have their heads in the Mexican and American wars of the 19th century and the Cold War of the 20th. They talk of imperialism and hegemony - which are irrelevant today.

Though Mexico is our neighbor and supposed longtime ally, the Mexican army has never - never - participated in a joint military exercise with the U.S. military, as Roderic Ai Camp notes in a recent study for the Woodrow Wilson Center.

The Merida Initiative funds some police training by Mexicans in Mexico; Mexican military officers are increasingly studying in the United States; and Mexico has recently asked our Northern Command for help in setting up a joint intelligence center. But that's not nearly enough.

Plan Colombia, a U.S. initiative to thwart drug smuggling in Colombia, has been a success because several hundred military trainers and intelligence operatives have worked hand in glove with Colombians inside that country. More than just teaching officers, they empower sergeants and enlisted men from the working class, something the Mexican military, like the Mexican elite, has yet to do

23 comments:

  1. Wow, that would be so wrong for so many reasons. Just a few offhand.

    1) The Mexican military is quite capable of dealing with the cartels. They have not been losing any battles. The issue is one of deployment and assignment, not execution.

    2) Involving the U.S. military would erode the support of the population. The cartels grew strong because they had the support of the people, at least until they turned on them and lost their self discipline. Only now is the government winning the support of the people. Bring in the U.S. Marines and the cartels will characterize it as a battle of sovereignty.

    3) The U.S. Marines would be clueless in interfacing with the locals, of determining friend from foe. There would be more collateral damage and innocents killed, and these "mistakes" would be blown up into global incidents.

    4) The cartels would likely respond by launching indiscriminate killings on the U.S. side of the border. Are you ready for Laredo and Brownsville police officers to be ambushed and decapitated?

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  2. I can't believe BB actually ran this drivel. Highly disappointing.

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  3. Mexico has their own marines..let them take care of it ...

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  4. Well let's not be to hard on Borderland Beat for running this story...

    Mind you I do NOT disagree with either of the comments and in fact and the first anon's comment is I think a very good analysis of what might happen 'if' the US Marines did get involved...

    BUT (isn't there alway a but?) there is something to what the hildahag is saying...

    Still that's not grounds enough for American intervention...

    I believe that the Secretary of State lifted comments from people: The real threat: Cartels could disrupt economy of entire Western Hemisphere

    Note the similarities: "The cartels have diversified their business to gain all manner of control: diverting petroleum, hijacking cargo from trains and trucks, extorting insurance companies. Essentially, they have taken on the characteristics of a classic mafia organization or warlord, not of a traditional drug trafficking organization. Many young men are attracted to the border area to work in the maquiladoras (the factories that have sprung up on the Mexican side of the border in recent years) and immigrate into the U.S. This gives the drug cartels an unlimited supply of young men to recruit as soldiers. In the past, the drug trafficking organizations were familial. Now, they see their men as expendable"...

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  5. Well it's about time someone spoke up and called these types of calls for involvement insane. Too many here and in Mexico are starting to plead for the Americans to get into it. What they mean is get into it as in let some drug-addicted americans die for what's happening to them, get into it since we have better technology and weaponry, get into it since we don't give a fuck about collateral damage, and just plain get into it cuz they wanna see us 'gringos' dead, don't matter if we're black, white, or hispanic.

    Just like in the middle east and in other impoverished countries, Mexico is doomed. Blame it on the Spanish who've been there for more than 500 years and never learned to govern a society, never learned that educating the masses would mean a prosperous nation, blame it on their stubborn insecurity that prevents them from letting these poor people taste freedom.

    They have been practically living under a form of slavery, and what's even more insane is that they're doing it to themselves. To us it seems so simple to live by rules and laws, by our constitution, our bill of rights. Tell that to them and they laugh, they call us ass-kissers to the 'white-man'..and these are the so-called educated masses who are still bitter about the U.S. supposedly stealing their stinking land.

    Get over it, I say. Mexico did not want the land and the people who lived on it did not want to be a part of the corrupt system and in effect rebelled against it. But these people, who are still living under the mexican system know exactly what's going on, they see it with their very eyes day in and day out.

    If there's any change to talk of it would have to come from within, a true rebellion, not something like Fidel Castro's regime, but one that actually cared about the people. Real freedom for the people, not some communist or socialist pipe-dream, not some system under American rule either.

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  6. google Hiliary Clinton's father.

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  7. Why do we (USA) always think we always have the answer? What did we fix in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in El Salvador or in Nicaragua? What does the Mexican government and the Mexican army want us to do? That's what we should do. Mexico is not a US territory or a protectorate or an annex. It's a sovereign country.

    You think Bush and the neo-cons were bad, and they were - but the Democrats/progressives can be just as bad. They think because their motives are pure that they can just poke their nose in anyplace somebody has a problem.

    Mexico is not against the US. We should try to give Mexico more reasons to like us. We should not tell them they got it all screwed up so shove over while we fix your country for you. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    PL

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  8. You are wrong that they have never participated in a joint military exercise with the U.S. military do you know about the (The Aztec Eagles) they were a fighter wing in world war 2, read up on them

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  9. I have no a clue how many readers/posters are living in Mexico full time and REALLY know what the people want and how they feel. Support of the people has long eroded.

    Mexicans have heard about the suggestion of Gov Perry and others to send in US forces and guess what folks ..they are elated, BUT by the time the story got to Mexico it was a done deal. I am being told " Everyone is so happy the the US marines are coming in to take care of the cartels" or "I don't know if it is true, but we hear the US marines are coming, is this really true???" when I answer "no, not until and if The Mx government requests this and US government approves the request" I can hear disappointment in the voices when I say that, and without exception every single person has said that they hope ths becomes a reality, they have zero faith in their country's ability to stablize the violence. I am not saying I think this should happen, I am simply saying this is what the Mexican citizen feels.

    My dos centavos is we need to send far more people to Mx in avisory roles, as we did in Colombia, and more DEA and intelligence working in conjunction with the Mexican government. Offer further training on all levels of police and armed forces including municipal police, and step up sending equipment. WHere I think we need to concentrate troops, in an surveillance capacity is Central America. That is where the drug "war"is shifting for reasons that should be obvious, fragile countries easily unstablized.

    Cartel presence is growing rapidly in Central America. Costa Rica was a safe stable country but recently the "switzerland"of Latin America asked for US help a couple months back...why? because they gave up their entire armed forces in favor of education...they have nothing and now the cartels have carved out a nice route right through the country.

    we now have 7000 troops there. and ships off their coast.

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  10. Yes because look how well Iraq and Afghanistan are coming along. Simplistic and lazy "journalism" by Edward Schumacher-Matos.

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  11. I have friends in Nuevo Progreso, and I can tell you that they all want the US troops to save them. They are scared and are lossing hope. They have no where to run, due to there location.

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  12. I cant believe all the responses that say mexican have marines and we can do it ourselves. Why have you not done it. You really think we want US marines in your country instead of being at home. I have never seen such corruption between politicians,policeman, cartel members anywhere in the world. 28,000 dead people that is nearly 6 times the people we have lost fighting in two wars and you say your marines can handle the matter. I do know this if we come in there just like Colombia we we will be ending the Cartels one by one in a short time. Colombia initiative it was not a month before we located Escobar and killed him. Except you will here these protect the human rights of the cartel members well as you know we will treat the Cartels like dogs and keep killing them everyday just like in Iraq until its over. We don't back down from anyone expectantly stupid cartel members.

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  13. let us not forget history when pancho villa and other bandits would ride into the us from the border robbing and pillaging a hundred years ago. i predict that with the way things are, the zetas will become bolder and start crossing regularly to steal etc. This is already happening now in border towns. one case of car jackings of luxury cars in mcallen. its the zetas. the us military must act now before its too late and many more american lives are lost. wake up america! we must force the hand of calderon. when a leader has no spine like obama and calderon, the violence will continue to thrive....

    ~Dreyes111

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  14. "Though Mexico is our neighbor and supposed longtime ally, the Mexican army has never - never - participated in a joint military exercise with the U.S. military, as Roderic Ai Camp notes in a recent study for the Woodrow Wilson Center."

    Uhmm, you mean the Army perse? because the Mexican Navy has participated in the UNITAS GOLD

    http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=44519


    "Plan Colombia, a U.S. initiative to thwart drug smuggling in Colombia, has been a success"

    If it has been a success, how come Mex cartels keep importing cocaine from Colombia...I mean, we all know the infamous Panama-Mex route, even La Barbie imports it from Colombia....or where are all the Mex cartels getting the nose candy from??? just wondering

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  15. Thus very much the same scenario as the war on terror, it's hard to completely kill every terrorist and cartel member simply because they use guerilla tatics and do not wear uniforms. Plus they hide as much as possible and as soon as one is killed there are 5 more to take their place. The only way I see to win this war is to kill as many as possible and take out the main leaders to disrupt their orginzation. Making drugs legal would be like making it Christmas every day for the cartels.

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  16. If calderon was a liberal like Obama is, Mexico would have ended up like the Sudan or dafur a long time ago. Calderon can not kill every single sicario, same as Obama can't even catch Osama. The militaries do what they can with the intel on hand.

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  17. This Washington Post opinion piece is so full of it, that it makes one want to throw up!

    'Yet the Mexican elite class and military remain too proud to do what they immediately should: Call in the Marines. I say this a bit tendentiously to get Mexicans out of their nationalistic stupor. They, in fact, should call in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, too.'

    The US government and military is in it already. That's what's making things so damn bad for the Mexican population. US military intervention always increases the violence and destruction, and never ever cures it. Look at Haiti for another sad case. Look at what American intervention has done to destroy Central American society in its multiple countries. It has made Colombia and Peru houses of horrors.

    Ernest1

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  18. If the Bolillos come, the rocks themselves will rise up.

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  19. Let me laugh for 10 minutes then I reply.... USA marines in Mexico territory?, yes, specially after what you have done to Irak Afganistan and some others, Im not against USA citizens in general, but Im scarred to dead by your government. If Calderon let the marines come to Mexico, be sure, they will have to fight the cartels, the army, and the mexican people in general, WE DONT WANT GRINGOS IN OUR LAND. If you really want to do something against the droug cartels, then arrest, process and condem all the yunkies in your side of the border. Mexican army and marines, may not be as technologically advanced as they USA counterpart, but thats because Mexico is a pacifist, not interventionist country. Mexicans support 100% our soldiers, it may take longer, but at least at the end, we will still be owners of our land

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  20. I will thank you for the love for our contry, but I think this is Mexico fighting corruption. If you want to help, please use the technology you have to stop the drug use in the United States.
    Mexico has spend 8 to 9 billion dollars fighting the cartels since 2006, and we thanks the United States for the 1.5 or 1.7 billion dollars help.

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  21. i think some Mexicans feel like Americans who just live in the bad part of town sometimes, thats why they would like to se US troops come in...i think there is a kinship between Mexicans and Americans

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  22. Wow!!! THE USMC in Mexico hahahahaha........ Is not the same when you go and fight with people from Afghanistan that don't even have proper shoes to wear in the battle field than fighting sicarios with military training and wayy better weapons than the USMC what the US needs to do is stop consuming DRUGS and quit selling hight power assault rifles indiscriminately .

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  23. why do yal care about mexico and usa i really dont support them mexico or usa but mexico isnt that fucked up i mean i seen shoot outs amd what the mexican marines do is sometimes surprising and i seen american traing and its really not a diffrence

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