Hopes for a military victory against drug cartels seem to be dimming within the United States government. Yesterday, for the third consecutive day, a high-ranking American official fretted over the possibility that Mexico's government could be overrun by organized crime.
James Clapper, director of the National Intelligence Agency in the United States, declared before Congress that the capacity of Mexican military and police forces to combat the cartels and contain violent crime continues to be "inadequate."
Clapper also stated that the drug war in Mexico had been elevated to one of the highest National Security priorities in the United States.
“We've recently elevated the conflict to category one, which is the highest level possible,” he affirmed.
He went on to say that although Mexico had racked up some “solid results” in the war aganst drugs, it also confronts “enormous challenges.” He also remarked that the process of institutional reform launched by President Felipe Calderón continues to be “slow on account of limited resources, conflicting political priorities, and burecratic resistance.”
This is the third time in less than two weeks that high-ranking officials in the U.S. have expressed deep concerns over the violence in Mexico and its reprcussions for American national security.
On February 7, the Under Secretary of the U.S. Army, Joseph W. Westphal, remarked before an audience of students at the University of Utah that the Mexican government is in danger of being taken over by organized crime, which he referred to as an “insurgency.”
In an effort to sooth ire in Mexico over his words, Westphal claimed he was merely expressing a personal opinion.
Two days later, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said that the U.S. was ready to “vigorously” defend the threat presented by the cartel, and that her government recognized the possibility that the terrorist organiztion Al Qaeda could take advantage of narcotrafficking networks in Mexico in order to more easily attack the U.S.
“All I will say in an open setting is that we have, for some time, been thinking about what would happen if say Al Qaeda were to unite with the Zetas – one of the drug cartels – and I’ll just leave it at that,” she warned lawmarkers at a hearing on Wednesday.
Mexican Secretary of the Interior José Francisco Blake Mora rejected American suspicions of a Zeta-Al Qaeda alliance.
“There are no signs of such a tie or any indication that they would be connected. On the contrary, they're two very different phenomena,” he added.