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Chernynkaya On February - 3 - 2010

The U.S. military says Mexico’s drug war puts it at risk of sudden collapse.

This is from the magazine, The Week—which I think is a great publication. It is dated 2009, but I saw this topic revisited today on MSNBC, and it’s still a possibility.

Violence in Tijuana: What is the United States’ responsibility?


A new Pentagon study “concludes that Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state,” said Joel Kurtzman in The Wall Street Journal, thanks to its ongoing “vicious drug war.” The violence and corruption are so bad that Mexico, like Pakistan, could see a “wholesale collapse of civil government.” President Felipe Calderón, “to his credit,” has sent 45,000 troops and 5,000 federal police to fight the drug traffickers, but the U.S. needs to do more, too.

The U.S. has already pledged $1.4 billion to “professionalize Mexico’s military and civil forces,” said Investor’s Business Daily in an editorial. But “in an era of big bailouts,” we can give more. We should also prepare “a military surge” to protect our southern border. “A collapsed state will bring millions of Mexicans spilling over our border,” probably including criminals, so this is more than a Mexican problem.

“To paraphrase an old saying, Mexico’s closest ally in this pursuit, the United States, also happens to be its worst enemy,” said Raul Yzaguirre in Arizona’s Tucson Citizen. Mexico’s drug lords are winning only because of America’s “huge demand for drugs” and easy supply of powerful weapons. Until the U.S. curbs its addiction problem, “the killing in Mexico will continue.”

Worse, while Mexico and Colombia “bleed themselves to death fighting ‘wars on drugs’ driven by the United States,” said Mexico’s La Jornada in an editorial (via WorldMeets.us), the U.S. “political class” focuses on “persecuting” Latino immigrants and profiting from the “voluminous trafficking in weapons.” So when the Bush administration talks of a Pakistan-like “failed state” in Mexico, it does so “with obvious exaggeration and bad faith.”

No, “I’d bet money,” said Rod Dreher in Beliefnet, that President-elect Obama “will have to fully militarize the US-Mexico border before he leaves office.” And he might even have to “invade Mexico” to “fight the narcotraffickers and prop up the government.” The only questions are how and when.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has repudiated the premise that Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state. He also blames the US for its production and sales of guns, as well as for our large market for drugs. “To say that Mexico is a failed state is absolutely false,” Calderon said. “I have not lost any part _ any single part _ of Mexican territory.”

Calderon, a Harvard-educated conservative, said smuggling cannot be eliminated as long as Americans continue to use drugs, but hopes he can beat back the cartels by 2012 to a point that the army and federal police can withdraw and leave the problem in the hands of local law enforcement. He declined to give a specific timeline for winning the war against drug gangs. But then, how could he? By all estimates, he us doing an heroic job, considering that the cartels have infiltrated local governments and police.

If Mexico fails—and I really don’t know at which point that becomes a reality, or even how that is officially determined—it has huge and serious implications for illegal immigration. I wondered if anyone has thoughts or more information about this.

Categories: News & Politics

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

45 Responses so far.

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  1. bitohistory says:

    Just watched a Republican Rep say that the latest shootings were not drug or gang related. Please, Sir, If you are asked to go on the TeeVee to comment on something, read some news!

    Mexico arrests suspect in Ciudad Juarez shooting attack on party
    The man tells reporters that assailants targeted the high-school party because members of a rival trafficking group were said to be in attendance.


    • javaz says:

      Well, at least they got one of the gunmen, only 23 more to find, according to the article.

      As for the Republican Rep -- typical ignorance and pathetically out of touch.

  2. javaz says:

    My brain is taxed from replying to your other article, and then replying to Nellie’s, but I promise to read this tomorrow and give it the thought it deserves and then hopefully have a comment!
    (whatever happened to K7? He’d love all this lately and hope he is okay.)

  3. bitohistory says:

    Cher, Living in the Tucson, AZ area there is rarely a day that goes by without news on the deaths in Mexico and the border. The border area that is the most active for apprehensions and drugs is known as “The Tucson Sector. This sector runs from the border of Califonia (skipping Yuma) to the New Mexico border.

    This is a link to a very good LA Times site that is full of information.

    Worth a look. It may amaze!
    Mexico Under Siege The drug war at our doorstep!


    If you want to follow what has been going on in Mexico, this is a must read

    • javaz says:

      Excellent site, B’ito, and frightening.
      I wonder what can be done to stop the violence.

      • bitohistory says:

        Yes it is. The LA Times has done a good job of tracking the story over the last few years. You can click that site and check it almost daily for a new story on the violence.

        Stopping the violence? Jobs that pay?
        It is not just about the drugs, these gangs are into extortion, kidnapping, human smuggling and the culture of pride, glory and power.

        • javaz says:

          Have you read about the kidnappings in the valley?
          Mexican Americans, most times affluent business owners, are kidnapped, and then their families are contacted and they must pay ransom?

          Doesn’t the Phoenix area hold the record for kidnappings in the country?

          And most of the kidnappings are by Mexican criminal groups or the Mexican mafia.

          • bitohistory says:


            • javaz says:

              Oh yeah, home invasions are another big thing in the Phoenix valley, and nearly every home invasion involves gangs and drugs, but occasionally they invade homes to steal guns.
              Not too long ago there was a story about an older man in Scottsdale whose home was invaded, and they beat that poor man and he played dead.
              They stole his guns, as he was a collector, so odds are the gang that busted into his home was aware of his hobby.

              And then there was the story about a family being held in their home and being forced to bust the foundation in a closet and dig their own graves.
              I forget how that was discovered, and the family is okay, but it had something to do with drugs, too, and the family wasn’t innocent.

              It’s all very frightening.

    • Khirad says:

      What’s the current status of Nogales? They keep on issuing warnings then stepping them back over time, I lose track. Puerto Pe

      • bitohistory says:

        Khirad, I heard an ad on KJLL from a dentist in Nogales. You park your car stateside, they come and pick you up in an armored SUV, take you across and repeat to get you back! He is advertising this service!

        Talked to an friend the other day about the “shopping loop”, that one used to do. (up one street down the other)
        He said there is now only the one street and the other street is vacant and boarded up. One does NOT go down that street.

        I think I will skip Nogales.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Bito, I read that a while ago, but I want to give it a really good look again. Thank you!

    • javaz says:

      This is a topic close to home, as we have abductions in the valley, and so many ruthless murders happening from Mexican drug cartels.
      They’re even worse than al queda when it comes to torture while their victims are still alive.
      It’s something that needs to be addressed somehow, but I’ve a headache from thinking too much already so will reply tomorrow.

  4. escribacat says:

    I am skeptical of this “failed state” danger. Mexico still has a huge tourist industry and expat community that has not been noticeably impacted by the gang wars. My idea of a “failed state” implies a notable danger to foreign visitors. I’ve got friends who live down there now and I asked them a year or so ago if the gang wars were impacting them. They said no.

  5. Chernynkaya says:


    It is a sobering time for the world

    • Khirad says:

      It does seem fairly subjective.

      Yup, I know it already. It is. However; the countries they mention I knew most of. How many here knew Bangladesh is on the verge? *feels smug self-important triumph* (joking!)

      Countries like Yemen at risk of being a failed state?

      Here’s the problem, the definition itself can be subjective. Yemen is already in civil war and could dissolve into anarchy. Pakistan has and will always -- with its artificial Durand line -- have trouble with the tribal areas. But will Islamabad fall? Not likely as long as the Army is there.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        I found that the inclusion of Iran on this list to be highly suspicious. Wishful thinking on the part of FP? A country with internal problems is not necessarily a filed state. Are we, by that criterion? I know-- exaggeration, but we have some serious problems in governance too. That criterion is too loose for my tastes.

  6. nellie says:

    Is this another argument for legalization?

    I don’t see how we can continue to allow this kind of violence and instability continue because we are stuck in a 1920s prohibition mindset.

    • escribacat says:

      I don’t know the statistics but it’s not just pot coming in from Mexico. A lot of crystal meth comes from there too and they have well organized gangs that target specific “markets” such as inner cities and reservations.

      • PepeLepew says:

        Fresno once boasted of being the “meth capital of the world.”

        I don’t think there is a meth capital anymore. I think it was more or less invented in Oakland.

        • escribacat says:

          There was a long article in the Denver Post a couple years ago about the meth coming into the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming (Arapaho and Shoshone). It had been targeted by a Mexican gang and was having a significant impact on the reservation.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      It’s the best — or at least the most politically palatable — argument I can think of. But we won’t accept that argument; we will continue our War On Drugs the way we insist on the War on Terror. And the two will eventually become conflated. We are a warlike nation. Or, if we discuss motive again, we are a for-profit people. Even though there is always more prosperity from peace and stability, there are the Haliburtons of the drug enforcement world who have too much at stake to end this war.

      • nellie says:

        I fear you may be right about that, Cher. What’s next? The Haliburton candidate for senate, promising endless war on endless human foibles….

    • Khirad says:

      Marijuana accounts for 60% of their profits alone.

  7. Khirad says:

    Don’t forget about the steep decline in Mexican oil production as its vast Cantarell field reaches the end of the road, and the state oil company struggles to get its act together to develop new sources. Petroleum exporting accounts for 40 percent of the Mexican economy.

    I honestly didn’t kow that. I knew it was a big part of the economy, but not that big.

    I saw an article, which is probably dated in terms of cartel leaders, but was color coded in terms of turf controlled by which cartel and players. This is the best I can come to replicating it: http://projects.latimes.com/mexico-drug-war/#/interactive-map

    It is odd that people, myself included, think of what is happening in lands far away in different terms than what is increasingly becoming downright terrorism. Last I heard was 272 deaths in Ju

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Uh oh-- you mentioned St. Muerte and Virgin of Juarez. remember-- religious studies major here. Don’t tempt me!

      • Khirad says:

        We’re of like passions. I tempt thee. 😈

        • Chernynkaya says:

          See, the thing about those topics for me is, I can’t just write a few sentences; can’t edit. My mind starts spinning and I want to bring up so many points.(Gawd!-- haven’t you read my articles?) I really love that stuff as you know, but I can’t think of a way for us to have that conversation in this forum. Maybe we can work together on a post? Maybe we can decide on a few topics and have a q and a?

          • Khirad says:

            Cher, I’m giddy that someone else knows that feeling! That excited/overwhelmed/where do I begin/there’s so many angles feeling!

            We had one by Bernard Marx do one on religion before. But I’d totally like to skirt the atheist/theist debate somehow and implore people to treat it on its own terms — sigh. I know that’d never work… I ask too much!

            • kesmarn says:

              Can I play, too? If you get a discussion going on world religions, minus the theist/atheist debate, that is? I’m eternally fascinated by the God-quest.

              And now, I really must say goodnight!

  8. AdLib says:

    What always gets me is the type of delusion that The Media promotes by saying things like:

    Until the U.S. curbs its addiction problem,

    • Chernynkaya says:

      “Moral fiber.” ~snort~

      We are generations away-- if ever-- from a sane drug policy of legalization. But in a sense, we HAVE legalized drugs via Pharma. Problem is, it just makes more drugs to steal, while at the same time making new addicts for legal drugs. (Hear that, Limbaugh?)

      The very premise that prevents legalization-- that more people will take drugs--is probably false. But if true, what does that say about our society--that people need to get drugs to be content? If the people who believe we would all take drugs if leglized truly believe that, then they should ask themsleves why that is true, and address the underlying need.

      • KQuark says:

        Like usual compared to the rest of the civilized world Americans behave like children because we accept being treated like children. Many drugs that require prescriptions in the US like birth control and pain relievers like Tylenol 3 (acetaminophen with codeine) are over the counter in Canada and Europe.

        I hope you don’t mind if I go off on a tangent but studies have shown that for moderate chronic pain relief most over the counter drugs in the US are not effective enough for pain sufferers but acetaminophen with codeine available throughout Europe is as effective as acetaminophen with designer opiates like hydrocodone and oxycontin. While many people in Europe and Canada control moderate pain using acetaminophen and codeine our puritan system requires you to go to the doctor for that same prescription. Making matters worse US doctors frequently over prescribe for people sufferers and usually will prescribe one of the designer drugs that give patients more of a high feeling than codeine so they come back for more. When I went to a pain specialist hell he would give me anything I asked for even though Tylenol 3 works fine for me. The worse part is for almost any opiate a doctor can only give you a 30 day prescription (at least in GA) so you have to see your doctor on a monthly basis. In the end I could afford the meds but not the doctor which is insane. It’s all part of the same problem because they not only want you hooked on prescription drugs but going to the doctor as well.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          KQ, I don’t think your comment is tangential to the drug debate, which is at the core of the Mexican issue.

          I agree, especially with your characterization of our Puritan attitude towards pain. It is barbaric! It is something that I know something about from my work as a cancer advocate. The triple scrip you speak of is a federal law-- another outcrop of our endless war on drugs. I can’t tell you how infuriated it makes me.

      • AdLib says:

        I don’t think legalizing something that is readily available will increase usage much.

        Availability isn’t a problem, all that could change is the price could go down and criminals would lose a lot of income and power.

        And so what if more people smoked pot? Think of how that would boost the economy through fast food and snack companies.

        And instead of needing so many prescription drugs, being as stressed or being nasty drunks, there might be more people renting Adam Sandler movies and laughing at them.

        I just don’t see the big downside here…except encouraging Adam Sandler to make more movies.

  9. PepeLepew says:

    Ahhh, Monterrey! :(

  10. KQuark says:

    If? I think Mexico is pretty much a failed state already. It’s corruption is almost as bad as Afghanistan’s now.

    The US is to blame for the proliferation of weapons in Mexico because of our ridiculously lenient gun laws. But I don’t buy that the US is at fault for demanding illicit drugs, save for not legalizing marijuana. Most western countries have populations that demand illicit drugs.

    As for this being the next big national security crisis for the US I think the probability of that is relatively low.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      KQ, I hear you about “failed state” but my question is, when does that become an official designation? I’ll have to find that out. The article seems to think that this will impact immigration further, but that’s probably fear mongering. I notice that many editorials are calling for a US military presence on the border. Puh-leeze! Is there nowhere the right doesn’t want to invade?

      However, I believe the war on drugs is as foolish as any of our military “adventures” ( Whee-- what fun! An adventure!) and MORE costly in lives and treasure. Stop the madness and legalize everything!!

      • KQuark says:

        Frankly the whole question of whether it’s a failed state or not is highly subjective. I don’t even know if there is an explicit definition in some Department of State manual about what constitutes a failed state. I totally agree about the fearmongering and don’t believe for one minute that the US will militarize the border let alone invade Mexico. I also think the US economy has allot more to do with Mexican immigration than the drug war in Mexico. With the construction market so depressed right now I would suspect illegal immigration is lower now than during the real estate bubble.

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