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We gotta?

24 February 2009

This weekend the Wall Street Journal has a long story on the Drug War in Mexico (see here). Murder, torture (some gruesome cases are mentioned), turf battles, extortion, kidnappings, and corruption are up, and in some areas civil society is on the verge of collapse.

… writes Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Bauerlein missed some of the more obvious problems with the Wall Street Journal article (where is “Tepitoto” for example? And why did he find it remarkable that cruising a poor neighborhood in an armoured Jeep — with no license plates, and in the company of a police officer — drew some rude remarks from teenagers? Not to mention throwing together misleading facts (saying eight percent of Mexican “counties” — supposedly he means “municipios” — have narcos in them is like saying eight percent of U.S. counties have some gangsters… with no mention of the population of these “counties”, nor of the amount of “corruption” involved. Is every “county” employee working for gangsters, or are there just some gangsters known to sometimes be in the “country”. Or does the Wall Street Journal have a clue what they are talking about?

Still, he caught the biggest error in the reportage of what used to be, once upon a time, a respectable business newspaper.

Only at the very end of the essay do we get the plain and simple fact at the root of it all: ““Demand in the U.S., of course, is the motor for the drugs trade.”

But do the U.S. officials quoted in the article recognize that fact? Never. Here is what the article says about U.S. response to the crackdown:

“The U.S., which is providing Mexico with some $400 million [!] a year for equipment and training to combat drug traffickers, backs Mexico’s stand. U.S. law enforcement officials are ecstatic about Mr. Calderon’s get-tough approach.”

Nice to see that U.S. officials are happy, and the taxpayers pump $400 million annually into the policy.

And what do the U.S. officials say about the violence?

“A U.S. law enforcement official says the Mexican military is trying to break down powerful drug cartels into smaller and more manageable drug gangs, like ‘breaking down boulders into pebbles.’ He adds: ‘It might be bloody, it might be ugly, but it has to be done.’”

So there you are, brilliant and firm—a rock-crushing strategy with lots of blood and guts, but we gotta do it. We just gotta.

We… in Mexico… gotta? I don’t think so.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. amerykalacinska permalink
    24 February 2009 3:59 pm

    Don’t you wanna?
    Is there any other power that could withstand drug cartels? If not by military force then how would you suggest to fight drug cartels? Furthermore, do you disagree that “Demand in the U.S., of course, is the motor for the drugs trade”?

  2. 24 February 2009 4:13 pm

    I disagree with the Wall Street Journal’s suggestion that Mexico must become a militarized state because the United States fails to adequately deal with a social problem, and — because it treats narcotics addiction as a criminal issue, has — though its lax banking controls (vide Alan Stanford) made the cartels a rich, powerful organization that could impact the Mexican state.

  3. 24 February 2009 4:53 pm

    People are constantly asking me about this drug war stuff, because they know I travel to Mexico frequently, and own property there, and “aren’t I afraid down there”.

    My response usually is that the main problems are near the borders, and I spend no time there. The town where I do spend time seems very peaceful, “tranquilo”, as they say. Though I do know that some of the mountains in Michoacan are safe to hike in, and there are others where we can hike if we notify people in advance, and drive a car that they recognize.

    I wish it were a more perfect world. The quote about Mexico having to deal with US social problems rings true, although I have also read that more marajuana comes from Canada to the US, than from Mexico now. It’s probably other drugs causing the bigger problems. In Michoacan, it’s all about pot, drug wise.

    Long term, the US should be involved more in the long term roots of problems, rather than police actions, but this is true of every problem.

    Steve Gallagher

  4. 24 February 2009 6:47 pm

    This is a little off the main point, but I do wish people would get over this notion that $400 million “[!]” is a lot of money. It’s a buck-thirty from every man woman and child in the US. We’ve been spending that every long weekend in Iraq since 2003. We just passed a stimulus package for over $800 billion. Settle, people.

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