Friday, November 21, 2014

Mexico - Ticking Time Bomb on America's Border

Welcome to Hell
We're used to hearing about failed states, insurgencies and civil wars. And what they have in common is they all happen on other continents. Between the Mid East, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and South America, there's a lot of dysfunctional and non-functional nations busily engaged in tearing themselves to pieces. And make no mistake, failed states represent the primary danger to global peace and stability in the 21st century. They are a breeding ground and a launching pad for all the activities that destabilize nations, initiate insurgencies, spread extremism and start civil wars. Failed states give operating room and oxygen to tribal, ethnic, sectarian and nationalist interests that are all unwilling to compromise and live side-by-side. They produce the kinds of conflicts that we've seen from Sudan to Syria, from Afghanistan to Nigeria that are waged with the most inhuman brutality and savage disregard for basic human norms.

And speaking of savagery, in late September 43 teaching students went to the Mexican town of Iguala to protest government hiring practices in the education system. Now, here in America where we long ago legalized political corruption, it's hard for us to understand just how toxic the systems of local governance in Mexico have become. But at some point, that sense of entitlement, that belief that as political leaders they are above the law, at some point the grotesque arrogance of unfettered power results in something that cannot be swallowed. So it was that night in September in Iguala, Mexico.

The Iguala Mayor,  José Luis Abarca Velázquez, goaded by his horrifically arrogant wife María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, was infuriated by this challenge to the authority they had bought and paid for and expected to wield for the extent of their term. After ordering local law enforcement to open fire on the student protesters, 43 of them were taken into custody by Iguala police. And that's when it got truly ugly.

The police turned these 43 innocent children over to the local narcotraffico gang, Guerreros Unidos. It's fairly clear that the instructions given to the gangsters were unequivocal - they executed all forty three kids, burned the bodies and crushed the remains so they would never be found. To be clear, they crushed the burned remains by stomping on them until there was nothing larger than gravel to be investigated. Does anyone doubt that was part of the instructions issued by the Mayor and his lovely wife?

But that's the backstory. Today is the outcome. The Mayor and his wife are in custody. And let's be honest - they are a symptom, not the disease. The question is how much will it take for the Mexican people to go into full revolt? In Tunisia, in Libya, in Egypt, in Syria the people refused to back down even as they were shot down, arrested and tortured. The Mexican people are no less committed to their rights, and their hopes and aspirations for their future, and their children's future. The influence of America weighs heavy on any hopes for real resistance, but at some point the inequality, the unfairness, the corruption and the brutality will generate a sustainable resistance. We may very well see the birth of that tomorrow.

But the idea of a failed state, a long term civil war on America's southern border is a frightening one, and one that tends to focus the mind. One can imagine a number of scenarios that include an 'invitation' to the US military to occupy Northern Mexico and establish "stability". In a worst case scenario, a million refugees would flood Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and very likely result in more violence and inhumanity. Considering the lawlessness, violence and brutality that has suffused Mexico even with a quasi-functional government, it's painfully easy to imagine the horrors that we would see in large swaths of ungoverned and ungovernable Mexico. We can expect to see warlords, with private armies built out of military and law enforcement deserters, holding enclaves against marauding gangs and attacks from fellow warlords, while the rebels break into various factions, simultaneously fighting the rump Mexican government and each other.

The 'failed state' is rapidly becoming the hallmark of 21st century geopolitics, with Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria closely followed by Nigeria, Sudan, Mali, even Pakistan. With its endemic poverty, corruption and criminal culture, would any of us be surprised to see Mexico collapse into a similar state of chaos? And how would it affect the US, both in terms of the direct impact of refugees, violence and increased criminality and in diplomatic relations with other nations that seek to benefit from the collapse - primarily China and Russia?


  1. Can't wait, personally. Just wondering what it'll take to ignite the powder keg.

    And how much money "private military contractors" will get out of the whole nasty mess.

  2. During the battle of Mogadishu, Delta flew light observation helicopters down major thoroughfares at thirty feet firing miniguns. I'm betting the Mexican Army can not just match, but exceed that kind of wanton savagery...

  3. What if we just canceled the war on drugs, thus taking all the money out of them?

  4. The cartels would find something else to do. The networks are too mature, far too developed to just disappear when one of their primary sources of income dries up. Lots of stuff to smuggle in lots of places, something they're very good at. Kidnapping and piracy are profitable when done correctly. Human trafficking is big money, although the cartels already own a big piece of that. Cyber theft is worth millions a week for those who build the right organization. Extortion, corruption, gambling, prostitution - I'm pretty sure that the cartels would survive the loss of a significant share of narcodollars - in fact, if the Americans stopped throwing millions of dollars around to CATCH them, they'd probably thrive...