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.