Backtracking on the Mexican Drug War

September 13, 2010

Just when it looked as though the Obama Administration had finally recognized the seriousness of the threat to  national security represented by the continuing Mexican Drug War, hopes once again faded.    Last Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a major foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C. in which she squarely addressed the Mexican drug war:

” We face an increasing threat from a well-organized network, drug-trafficking threat that is, in some cases, morphing into or making common cause with what we would consider an insurgency, in Mexico and in Central America. ..And these drug cartels are now showing more and more indices of insurgency — you know, all of a sudden car bombs show up, which weren’t there before. So it’s becoming — it’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago.”

The speech caused an uproar in Mexico since it appeared that Clinton was criticizing the Mexican government itself.   No sooner did Calderon  respond with umbrage than Barack Obama issued a retraction and clarification, insisting that Mexico is a great country, with a flourishing economy and proud democratic tradition.

Opportunity lost.   What Clinton had said was the truth – that the country is a mess and that the chaos south of  the border presents a very real threat to U.S.  national security.

I have written extensively of my fears in this regard  in my pieces When the Dam Breaks , Plugging Up the Dam and more recently The Mexico War of Survival and have felt for nearly two years that U.S. military intervention will almost certainly become necessary within a relatively short time.  Obama’s clarification of Clinton’s remarks, while strengthening the U.S. commitment to assisting the Calderon government with intelligence and advisers, falls short of what is really required at this time – joint strategic  planning between the U.S. and Mexican military with the tacit acknowledgment that sooner or later the U.S. will need to commit special forces to the region.

To Freeze or Not to Freeze?

September 13, 2010

Benjamin Netanyahu might feel the ground getting a little colder around his feet these days.  Palestinians are demanding that a ten month freeze on settlement construction (due to expire on September 26)  be extended and will halt peace negotiations without it.   Netanyahu’s right wing will bolt his coalition if that happens, leaving him with no option but to call new elections.

With the second round of peace talks about to begin in Egypt next week, the pressures from both sides – as well as the U.S. Administration, which is staking its reputation on the talks’ outcome – is high.  No one ever said that negotiations on this level would be easy as it has been clear for months that a extension of the freeze is the sine qua non for any advancement in peace talks.

The wonder of it all this is how much clout the Palestinians have been able to muster as legitimate interlocutors.  Without having to do very much at all, other than issue a few tepid videos expressing regrets to Israelis for  not having advanced the peace process forward, Palestinian leaders have demonstrated little to no resolve for moving the ball forward.

This makes perfect sense.   They have little at all to gain from it.  The prospect of Palestinian statehood would not give Palestinian leaders  much they don’t already have but  might add substantially  to their  headaches  of how to incorporate  Hamas’ growing support base within a government.

Needless to say,  the respect they  have been able to garner,  is way out of proportion to the level of respect they deserve.

The more important question remains – what does Israel have to gain or lose by acceding to such a demand?   The previous ten month freeze, which allowed for the completion of projects already under construction, was a hard won compromise for the Netanyahu government.  It will be tough to ask it to go through that kind of horse trading again, particularly for so little return.

As for the Obama Administration, it is well aware  that Netanyahu  is the only player in the Israeli spectrum of leadership capable of delivering concessions. By allowing the Palestinians to exercise a veto on new settlement construction, they are effectively cutting him off at the knees.

Given these realities, the Obama Administration would be far wiser to apply pressure where it might have some effect.  Obama should impress on the  Palestinian president that without concessions of his own,  American support cannot be guaranteed  and any international credibility achieved in the past several months will once again evaporate.

Whatever they feel about the prospect of statehood, the one thing the Palestinians have no interest in doing is losing American support. Such support is necessary in sustaining the the level of aid received from around the world and maintaining the diplomatic pipelines to broader international constituencies.

No freeze, in construction in either the West  Bank or East Jerusalem, will necessarily guarantee progress in the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.  But a threatened  freeze in relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority might be enough to stimulate a potential thaw.

Coddled for too long, the Palestinian Authority must begin to learn what its like to play ball in the grown up  world of diplomatic relations.  It might just  inspire the warming necessary to prevent yet another episode of cold feet.

Why TIME Magazine Doesn’t Care About Objectivity

September 12, 2010

Could there be a more provocative cover story for a major U.S. magazine?

Time Magazine Cover

The cover of this week’s TIME, set in a blue background and emblazoned  with the image of a Star of David constructed of daisies, blares the vitriolic question ” Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.”

The cover story, by Karl Vick on page 36, is titled The Good Life and Its Dangers and proceeds to report on the seeming indifference of Israelis to the prospect of peace.  By interviewing a handful of  Israeli real estate developers, entrepreneurs and academics, Vick comes to the conclusion that Israelis have become so obsessed with material progress and economic success that they have little time left over to focus on the prospects of peace.

“In the week that three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the truth is, Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They’re otherwise engaged; they’re making money; they’re enjoying the rays of late summer.  A watching world may still define their country by the blood feud with the Arabs whose families used to live on this land and whether that conflict can be negotiated away, but Israelis say they have moved on.”

The four page article/argument  is such a hatchet job in gathering evidence to buttress a foregone conclusion ( otherwise known in logic as petitio principii or begging the question)  that any high school student could see through it.

First, is the cover story tagline, which actually has little do with the content of the article.   Why don’t Israelis care about peace?  According to Vick’s piece itself, Israelis certainly do care about peace, but don’t have much faith in the peace process.   That is a very  important distinction.  Peace as a goal, is surely never beyond anyone’s mind in Israel.  How could it be, when every family knows a friend or a relative who was maimed or killed in one of the country’s eight wars.  Which mother  – religious, secular, Jewish, Druze or Bedouin wishes to see their son placed in harm’s way in an unending conflict?  But after 17 years of  failed promises and an adversary who refuses to take even minimal steps toward peace in recognizing their country’s right to exist, why would any citizen of Israel not be cynical about Palestinian intentions?

To present any idea that Israelis don’t care about peace, is simply fatuous.

Second, the author himself  fails to give his story much historical context, neglecting to measure the true shock and anger Israelis experienced time and time again over the past 17 years as territorial concessions were met with Palestinian violence. He quickly glosses over  Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in July, 2000 to Yasser Arafat of 97% of the West Bank and Gaza – and even the division of Jerusalem – an offer met two months later by a fusillade of bullets in the second Intifada.   One thousand Israelis dead and 4,000 maimed ( many disabled for life)  later, it provided convincing grounds for most Israelis to believe that the Palestinian leadership was preternaturally disposed to a violent resolution of the conflict and not a viable peace.  The IDF  retreat from the Israeli security zone in Lebanon in May, 2000 and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in August, 2005 – huge concessions by Israeli standards, left vacuums which were soon filled by violent Islamic thugs who proceeded to rain down rockets on Israeli southern and northern towns.

Who would blame any Israeli for  believing that peace negotiations and concessions are just the precursors to a new round of violence?

Third, Vick just get some things just plain wrong.  He quotes leftist political scientist Tamar Hermann who claims that Israelis are watching  less and less news :

” They read the political sections of newspapers less.  They say, it spoils my day, so I don’t want to see it.”

Really?   Anyone who has been to Israel and traveled on public transportation or even  in any taxi, knows that Israelis are news obsessed.  It is built into the culture and fundamental to the security of a nation ever on the alert for a terrorist strike ( or “pigua” as it is more colloquially known).  The realities of life are simply glossed over in a fanciful acceptance of one academic’s point of view.

The greatest problem with the entire piece however, is the way it supports an antisemitic stereotype without daring to acknowledge it.  The ultimate images of profligacy and dissipation that remain-  ‘oh those rich Jews, sunning themselves on their beaches  and counting their shekels while the Palestinians waste away in abject poverty’  could have been taken directly from the pages of Der Sturmer and drives home the notion that this country of Jews may be no more than an actualized collection of Fagins drawn from English literature.

It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that this is the same magazine , who when introducing the newly elected prime minister Menachem Begin in 1977, transliterated his name as ” Bay -gin  – rhymes with Fagin.”

One has to wonder whether the magazine would ever commission a parallel cover story about internal Palestinian life?  Would it  have the nerve to expose the seething Jew hatred in the Palestinian media and in its education system or the manifest hypocrisy of leaders such as Saeeb Erekat who bray about peace but do all they can to prevent actual negotiations?

Probably not.  To portray the Palestinians as anything other than victims and underdogs would be to upset a fundamental value of liberal magazines such as TIME – strong equals wrong; weak equals right.  Far easier, it would seem, to render a portrait in keeping with accepted dogmas and age- old stereotypes.

Maybe this is, after all, what  sells papers.

China’s Military Build Up Must Be Watched

September 12, 2010

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on  August 18, expatriate Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali amplified her charge that the United States was truly engaged in a clash of civilizations:

“The West is declining in relative power, Islam is exploding demographically, and Asian civilizations—especially China—are economically ascendant……………The West’s universalist pretensions are increasingly bringing it into conflict with the other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China. Thus the survival of the West depends on Americans, Europeans and other Westerners reaffirming their shared civilization as unique—and uniting to defend it against challenges from non-Western civilizations.”

The identification of China may have  surprised many.  After all, the United States is China’s most important trading partner and China owns, according to the lastest reports, nearly 40% of American debt.  The two nations , it is argued, are wrapped in a symbiotic relationship where  armed conflict would be unthinkable.

But Hirsi Ali , without going into extensive analysis, was touching  on an important development which is all but ignored by the U.S. Government.  The Chinese are almost certainly preparing for an eventual military conflict with the United States.

In August, in its annual report to Congress,  the U.S. Department of Defense claimed that China was ramping up investment in an array of areas including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines aircraft carriers and cyber warfare. The military report said China was “already looking at contingencies beyond Taiwan” including through a longstanding project to build a far-reaching missile that could potentially strike US carriers deep in the Pacific.

“Current trends in China’s military capabilities are a major factor in changing East Asian military balances and could provide China with a force capable of conducting a range of military operations in Asia well beyond Taiwan” it said.

“China’s military doctrine has traditionally emphasized the ability to strike within an area extending to Japan’s  Okinawa Island chain and throughout the South China Sea east of Vietnam,” the report said.

But Chinese strategists are now looking to expand their reach further to be able to hit targets as far away as Guam including much of mainland Japan and the Philippines it said.

Andrew Krepinevich , the president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments wrote in Friday’s Wall Street Journal:

” China’s goal is to stop the United States from protecting its long standing interests in the region – and to draw Washington’s democratic allies and partners ( such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) into its orbit.”

In the piece, he claims that the Chinese military has identified U.S.’ reliance on satellites and the Internet to monitor incoming attacks as its Achilles Heel.   The successful testing of a Chinese  anti-satellite missile in 2007   and the prospective use of lasers to blind satellites, presents an extremely discomfiting scenario for the United States.

The imperial ambitions of China to dominate its region should not come as any historical surprise.   There has  been a long standing Chinese view of itself as the center of  Asia and that those nations that surround it should exist as either vassal or tributary states.  In fact, China could remind its Asian neighbors of the once powerful tributary system of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, when the “Middle Kingdom” was in fact at the center of an Asian system of trade, cultural eminence and respect.  Though Beijing may have no aspirations of re-creating such a system, this “Middle Kingdom” mentality cannot be totally neglected today.

The Obama Administration, much like the Bush Administration before it, remains blissfully unaware of the Chinese military build up or of how, in any potential conflict breaking out over Taiwan or South Korea, U.S. forces in the Pacific could become neutralized within minutes.

China’s astonishing  economic development, its bustling metropolises and embrace of  the West in robust trade, should not blind us to the fact that the Chinese do not share the same civilizational values as ourselves, nor are they necessarily willing to play ball on issues of global concern – particularly when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program or even matters as hot button as global warming.

That is because to the Chinese mind,  the Middle Kingdom is not a quaint historical anecdote, consigned to a storied past, but an ever present reality in the thinking of many modern Chinese political  leaders and businessmen. It  dictates a view of China as the cynosure of  an Asian ascendancy with a concomitant indifference to Western leaders’ universalist ideals.   We would be foolish to ignore this kind of thinking and to believe so implicitly in Chinese professed good intentions.

Remembering Bush’s “Gulag” and Policies of Torture

September 12, 2010

The Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten found an appropriate way to commemorate the ninth anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday.  In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, titled A Post- 9/11 Betrayal Endures, Rutten wasted little time in inveighing against the actual murderers of 3,000 Americans and the heinous ideology that brought about their deaths on that clear September morning.

Instead Rutten filled the space identifying the true villains of the 9/11 era –  the Bush Administration with its establishment of the Guantanomo “Gulag” and its sanctioning of policies of torture.

”  The story of how the Bush- Cheney administration rushed to make torture an instrument of national policy in its ” war on terror” and how it created an international gulag in which to abuse prisoners is well known.,  Less remarked on  – for reasons that do nobody credit – is the fact that President Obama and his administration have embraced the secrecy and usurpations of power that made possible the Bush- Cheney betrayal of American values.”

It is  convenient, I suppose, for a mudslinger such as  Rutten to reach for  the nearest accessible clump of vitriol and fling it for all its worth at Bush’s historical record.  Leftists such as this old curmudgeon still believe that there is mileage to be pumped out of flaying the previous Administration, certain it will expiate the country of its lingering sins.

I wonder if he has ever considered that the succeeding Obama Administration kept much of the Bush anti- terror campaign in place because it found that not only was it legal,  but also extraordinarily effective.

The fact is that the CIA interrogation program at Guantanomo did not inflict torture by any reasonable standard  – whether that of the Geneva Convention, the guidelines set by the European Court of Human Rights or American Law.   The only instance in which torture, as it is defined internationally, could possibly be said to have taken place was in the water boarding of three high level al Qaeda operatives.

But water boarding in itself is not illegal under American law.  The report of the CIA Inspector General found that ” on 29 July 2003 , the Agency secured Department of Justice concurrence on water boarding.” The interrogators checked to see that it was legal – and it was.  The Obama Administration has not brought any prosecutions against either the Department of Justice officials who approved the water boarding, nor against those CIA agents who administered it, precisely because they know that no case against them could succeed in any American court of law.

We can also not ignore that the water boarding  of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Qaeda’s second-in-command, produced such a rich trove of intelligence that it is rightfully credited as having averted the next 9/11.   By the time his interrogators had finished with him, Mohammed was spilling the beans, without much prompting from his interlocutors, on al Qaeda’s operational structure, its financing,  its communications and its logistics  – giving rise, in the process, to over 6,000 intelligence reports.

He identified al Qaeda travel routes and safe havens, and helped intelligence officers make sense of documents and travel records seized in terrorist raids.   This invaluable information was used by British officials in August, 2006 to interdict a plot of  two dozen terrorists to blow up seven trans-Atlantic flights , scheduled to depart Heathrow within hours of each other.

And what of Guantonomo itself ?  Can it really be compared to a Gulag –  the Soviet penal labor camp system that has become historically synonymous with the very concept of Hell ?

Well lets see:   Between 1929 and 1953  more than 14 million people passed through the Gulag with a further 6 to 7 million being deported and exiled to remote areas of the USSR.  According to a 1993 study of  archival Soviet data, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag from 1934 to 1953. More complete data puts the death toll for this same time period at 1,258,537, with an estimated 1.6 million casualties from 1929 to 1953.  These estimates exclude those who died shortly after their release but whose death resulted from the harsh treatment in the camps, which was a common practice.  The total population of the camps varied from 510,307 (in 1934) to 1,727,970 (in 1953).

Although conditions varied from camp to camp and place to place, the large majority of prisoners at most times faced meagre food rations, inadequate clothing, overcrowding, poorly insulated housing, poor hygiene, and inadequate health care. The overwhelming majority of prisoners were compelled to perform harsh physical labor. In most periods and economic branches, the degree of mechanization of work processes was significantly lower than in the civilian industry: tools were often primitive and machinery, if existent, short in supply. Officially established work hours were in most periods longer and days off were fewer than for civilian workers.  Often official work time regulations were extended by local camp administrators.

This is how Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archepeligo described his camp:

“Philosophers, psychologists, doctors, writers could have observed in our camps more than in anywhere else in all the versatility and in full details the specific process of narrowing of man’s mental and intellectual horizon, decline of a man to the level of an animal and his process of dying alive.”

This , on the other hand, is how  Guantanomo was described by Judy Reiss, whose son Joshua was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11, described the detention facility.  Reiss had opposed the Iraq War and was appalled by stories of abuse at Guantanomo:

” I expected it to look like a broken down prison, like I had heard in the news.  But let me tell you, its the Guantanomo Bay Resort and Spa.   If they even have a pimple, they will fly a dermatologists down to make sure its not cancer.  They can stop the court proceedings if they need to pray.  They eat a more varied and selective diet than either you or I.”

Indeed, they do. According to Marc A. Thiessen, author of  Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe, at one time the military spent $125,000 on baklava to feed the prisoners on each night of Ramadan.  The chef in charge of catering showed Thiessen how she prepared exotic Middle Eastern meals according to the Middle East standard of halal.  Each meal is prepared in a variety of ways to satisfy the dietary restrictions of the inmates – ” regular meal”, soft meal”, ” high fiber meal,” vegetarian meal” , vegetarian meal with fish”  and ” bland meal”.  One nurse told Thiessen that  “the biggest problem the terrorists face is from excessive consumption of food on their 6,500 calories per day diet.”

To stay in shape and avoid this ” Gitmo gut,” the prisoners have access to elliptical trainers. They can view  satellite television, with access to al -Jazeera and Arabic news and sports channels.   They receive language and art classes – and handheld video games in order to help them pass the time.

An independent review by Navy Inspector General Admiral Albert T. Church III  found that:

” Detainees wee more likely to suffer injury from playing soccer or volleyball during recreation periods than from interactions with interrogators or guards.  Almost without exception, therefore, GTMO detainers have been treated humanely.”

Why is none of this information more popularly known?   Why does  ” Gitmo” still maintain  such a hold  on the national consciousness as a place where American values were betrayed – as indelibly imprinted as the attacks of 9/ 11 themselves.

Clearly there is still much political juice to be squeezed from the indictment and even today, as Rutten so ably demonstrates, it makes good copy.

One can only wonder what the reaction of readers  would have been in the decade following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, that the only thing a commentator could recall was how unlawfully we treated the men responsible for the attack.

But those who still remember that it was not the U.S. Government that sent 19 young men on planes on that September morning to kill thousands of innocent Americans, but Islamists driven by a deep hatred for our values and ideals, will regard journalists such as Rutten for what they are -malcontents, more committed to nursing a  sense of grievance against the United States ( of whatever administration) and identifying Americans’  “malevolent impulses”,  than true pride and gratitude for the achievements of its government over nine difficult  years in keeping Americans safe.

Stephen Hawking’s Leap of Faith

September 8, 2010

Stephen Hawking is one of the most remarkable of living human beings.  Afflicted by neuro-muscular dystrophy (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), today he has the use of only his cheek and a finger.  And yet despite his affliction, this man has become one of the giants of the scientific world, producing books, movies, maintaining a rigorous schedule of speaking (through a vocoder) and even flying into space as history’s first quadriplegic astronaut.

Many have turned to Hawking to determine his views of the interaction between science and religion.  And as one of the most significant proponents  of Big Bang theory, his views on ultimate cause have naturally generated intense curiosity.

For the main, the 68 -year-old scientist has remained fairly equivocal about his views on God.  In an interview with Reuter’s News Service in 2007 he said :

“I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.”

Where “Nothing” ends and “God” begins has never been made clear by Hawking.

Until now.  In his new book, The Grand Design, written with Leonard Mlodinow,  Hawking gives  great comfort to atheists everywhere when he proclaims that it is not necessary to have a God of the Universe to explain the origins  and development of the universe.

On September 3rd inthe Wall Street Jounal, he explained:

“As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

In The Grand Design he explains why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously.  The authors question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a “model-dependent” theory of reality.  They discuss how the laws of our particular universe are extraordinarily finely tuned so as to allow for our existence, and show why quantum theory predicts the multiverse–the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. M-Theory, they offer, is  an explanation of the laws governing the multiverse, and the only viable candidate for a complete “theory of everything.”

The central question that arises out of reading Hawking’s book is not the theory of everything, but the nature of ” nothing.”   What are  the  constituents of  “nothing”  because for something to come from nothing, there has to be matter or energy available to combine.

M-theory, which forms the core of the book,  is an attempt to explain the basic substance of the universe and provide an understanding of ” nothing”.   It attempts to unify the five  existing string theories about the nature of matter by examining certain identifications and dualities. Thus each of the five string theories become special cases of M-theory.

But M- Theory has one huge problem.  For unlike the Theory of Relativity, which was demonstrated and proven in a variety of places and locations in the early 20th Century, M- Theory cannot be shown to be  demonstrably true.   That is because M- Theory relies on the existence of other dimensions ( 11 to be exact), six of which we can intuit but never  experience. Unfortunately, until we can find some way to observe these higher dimensions,  M-Theory has a very difficult time making predictions which can be tested in a laboratory. Technologically, it may never be possible for it to be proven at all.

That essentially leads science back to the same essential starting block as religion.  Unable to prove the validity  of  M-theory, science is rendered helpless by the need to express faith in it – until, such time that is, as we develop either the technology or human capacities  to establish its essential truth.

No quantum physicist  would want to be labeled a practitioner of a faith, but that is exactly, in this field  at least, what they are.  Empirical research  into quantum mechanics can only take you so far.  Everything after that is achieved only through leaps of belief and  imagination.

Sounds familiar?  It should.  All religion is based on exactly the same philosophical premise.

At the beginning of  their book, Hawking and Mlodinow proclaim philosophy (aka religion)  dead in that it has failed to adequately explain the origins of the universe. Only science, they declare,  is now equipped to assume such a task.

Yet as long as human beings can think they will continue to wonder about the extraordinary symmetry of our world and the way the forces of nature appear perfectly aligned to produce life.  They will gaze at the night sky and ponder how all those stars appeared and where the forces that caused them to be, came from.   If M-theory demonstrates anything, it is that the human mind is only capable of understanding so much about the nature of creation.  Everything else may well exist  in a sphere well beyond human comprehension.

So for the time being, we humble non-scientists  are left guessing.  And in this relativistic world, frankly Professor Hawking,  your  guess is as good as mine.

The Mexican War of Survival

September 6, 2010

Will Mexico cease to exist as a self governing nation state?

That is a question that we might all be asking ourselves considering recent developments in that country and a growing likelihood of the outbreak of some kind of civil war.

Not a day goes by without a news item revealing yet another outrage perpetrated against a judge, a prosecutor, a political leader or a major business figure.  Kidnappings and killings have reached into such formerly safe enclaves as Acapulco, Cancun and Monterrey.

Today’s Los Angeles Times reveals how even the country’s most important national enterprise, PEMEX – a natural gas exploration and refining giant, has been cowed and intimidated by the drug lords.   Tracy Wilkinson reports that 30 employees of the corporation have gone missing for a month, with no word from them or their supposed kidnappers.  No one wants to talk about the abductions – not the familys’ relatives, not the government investigators and not even the government itself.  Why?   For fear of reprisals from the drug cartels who seem to have penetrated and intimidated every echelon in Mexican society.

Wilkinson reports this frightening reality:

“The capacity of the traffickers to exert influence over a company as mighty as Pemex only solidifies the widely held perception that the cartels are growing in size and strength despite the government’s crackdown.” “How is it,” asked a relative of a kidnapped worker, “that Pemex, supposedly the backbone of the nation, can be made to bow down like this?”

Despite the capture of the drug kingpin  ‘Le Barbie’ last week,  the view that the country is slowly falling apart due to increasing fear and an ensuing collaboration by ordinary citizens with criminal elements is gaining increasing currency.

That is because the public  trust that should exist in police and government forces are actually working to protect Mexican society rather than collaborating with the  Cartels, has substantially eroded.  Last month it was discovered the murdererers of the popular mayor of Monterrey were actually city policemen and included his own bodyguards.  It sent a sobering message of what has happened to Mexican society – you can’t trust anyone, any time.  Its everyone for themselves in a Mexican War  of Survial.

The increasing opinion of Mexican editorialists is that President Calderon’s  four year  struggle with the Cartels is not succeeding and as Wilkinson reports, may be leading to a growing assumption that the country is headed towards break up.  Feuding cartels will  battle it out over huge swathes of territory, making local elected government an anachronism.

The consequences of a potential Mexican collapse for the United States are underplayed and simply underreported in this country.   Such an eventuality would produce a refugee crisis that would make the South Asian crisis of the late 70s look like a family picnic.  It would cause untold hardship and violence in our own border towns and it would create a humanitarian crisis of unparalleled duration.

For years I have called for United States intervention in the mess that is Mexico – a devotion of our resources to destroying the cartels.  We MUST pay more attention if we are going to prevent this war from spilling into our southern cities and border towns and becoming not only Mexico’s War for Survival, but something of our own.

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