Colonels Look At The Mexican Collapse

General Barry McCaffrey has called for an evaluation of his failed policies from a couple of Colonels who have visited Mexico. Michael Yon runs down the details in this [pdf]. Let me excerpt a few highlights:

Thousands are being murdered each year. Drug production, addiction, and smuggling are rampant. The struggle for power among drug cartels has resulted in chaos in the Mexican states and cities along the US-Mexico border. Drug-related assassinations and kidnappings are now common-place occurrences throughout the country.

Squad-sized units of the police and Army have been tortured, murdered, and their decapitated bodies publicly left on display. The malignancy of drug criminality now contaminates not only the 2000 miles of cross-border US communities but stretches throughout the United States in more than 295 US cities.

I really like the part about the drug criminality contaminating more that 295 US cities. However, I'd say they Colonels need to improve their observation and estimation techniques. It is every city, town, and hamlet in the US of A.

Well let us look at some more of the report and see if the Army geniuses in charge can figure out what is causing the problem.

Senior government officials are taking enormous personal risk; the drug cartels have demonstrated their willingness to murder political leaders and law enforcement officers who threaten their well being. The commitment of these senior Mexican Government officials to reestablish the rule of law will become a matter of historical pride to their nation if they succeed.
Well yes. The report fails to mention that if they fail they can get rich. Which seems to be sufficient inducement for quite a lot of them. However, success not only brings pride, it also brings death. Not an inconsiderable incentive on its own.
A failure by the Mexican political system to curtail lawlessness and violence could result of a surge of millions of refugees crossing the US border to escape the domestic misery of violence, failed economic policy, poverty, hunger, joblessness, and the mindless cruelty and injustice of a criminal state.
As opposed to the millions crossing the border now to escape violence, poverty, hunger, joblessness, cruelty and injustice.

And you know it is even worse than people think. Mexico is not faced with ordinary corrupt corruption. No siree. They are faced with something more evil than that. Narco corruption and terrorism.

Mexico is not confronting dangerous criminality--- it is fighting for survival against narco-terrorism.
Which is way different than religious terrorism and narco corruption like we see in Afghanistan.

What can we do General? What can we do to prevent this horrible narco tragedy from befalling us? Please. Please I beg you. Tell me before it is too late. What should I do?

A terrible tragedy is going to take place in the coming decade if we don't closely ally ourselves with the courageous Mexican leadership of the Calderon Administration---- and develop a resourced strategy appropriate for the dangers we face.
Ah. A resourced strategy. That means money. Why didn't you just say so? How much? Where do you want it delivered? Unmarked small denomination bills? Yeah. That is doable.

Then the Colonels go on for a few more bullet points about the wonderful goodness of Mexico concluding with:

In sum, Mexico and its people are a joy to visit--- and a trusted partner in business cooperation. Mexican and Central American labor is a central pillar of US economic strength. However, Mexico is fundamentally at risk from drug-fueled crime which is so powerful that it could threaten the viability of the state.
Well yeah, provided you don't get killed or kidnapped by the various gangs or extorted by the police who are just attempting to make their positions pay. So how much should you pay? Well that depends on how much you have got and what you or your relatives can raise up.

Well enough of local color. What is the problem? The real problem? (watch for the magic trick - here comes the slight of hand, the palming of the card).


Why sure it is. It couldn't possibly be the laws making drugs illegal transmuting a pile of vegetables into a pile of gold. Oh. No. Don't think of laws and government and supply and demand and smuggling and black markets. That would be wrong and complicated. Can't have that. Just think of DRUGS. And remember the most important thing of all. DRUGS ARE VERY BAD. So if you see any DRUGS it would be wise to beat them about the head and shoulders with a stick. BAD DRUGS. BAD.

Mexico is on the edge of the abyss---it could become a narco-state in the coming decade. Chronic drug consumption has doubled since 2002 to 500,000 addicts. Possibly 5% or 3.5 million people consume illegal drugs. (the US figure is 8.3% or 20.4 million). Since 2002--- past month Mexican national drug consumption has increased by 30% and cocaine use has doubled. The fastest growing addiction rates are among the 12 to 17 year old population -- and the consumption rates among women have doubled.
My god. America has a 14 trillion dollar economy and about 8 1/2% take drugs. While the Mexican economy is at $1 trillion and only 5 % take illegal drugs. How do they expect to catch up with us economically when there is a severe shortage of drug takers in their society. We must help them to catch up Barry. We must.
Drug criminal behavior is the central threat to the state. Mexico probably produces 8 metric tons of heroin a year and 10,000 metric tons of marijuana. 90% of all US cocaine transits Mexico. Mexico is also the dominant source of methamphetamine production for the US market. The drug cartels have criminal earnings in excess of $25 billion per year ---and physically repatriate more than $10 billion a year in bulk cash back into Mexico from the US.
Central threat to the state? It looks more like it is central to Mexican prosperity.
The crime rate is staggering. The US State Department notes that crime in Mexico continues at high levels particularly in Mexico City. Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico. Armed street crime is a serious problem in all the major cities. Robbery and assault on passengers in taxis are frequent and violent. Mexican authorities have failed to prosecute numerous crimes committed against US citizens, including murder and kidnapping. 44% of all murders through November of this year were of unidentified victims--- primarily because of fear of becoming involved by family and acquaintances of the deceased.
But you know other than that it is a really lovely place to visit. If none of those heads without bodies or bodies without heads shows up on the plaza while you are taking a stroll.
Corruption is pervasive and ruins the trust among Mexican law enforcement institutions at local, state, and Federal level. Corruption reaches into the US Embassy with a DEA Mexican national employee recently arrested for being an agent of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was corrupted by a $450,000.00 bribe. Six high-ranking law enforcement officials have recently been arrested and the current and former Director of the Interpol Office in Mexico indicted. (This is a painful personal reminder of the 1997 arrest of the Mexican Drug Czar, General Gutierrez Rebollo, discovered to be working as an agent of the Juarez cartel.)
Say wasn't General McCaffrey an American Drug Czar? Yes he was. I wonder which cartel he is working for? The pay is good and you can legally put on holier than thou airs and the visage of a scold. What is not to like?
The Mexican people believe the justice system is corrupt and ineffective. Mexican police regularly obtain information through torture and prosecutors use this evidence in courts. The suspect is deemed guilty until proven innocent. Most ominously--- the Mexican people are losing faith in the system. At the start of the Calderon Campaign more than 87% supported the President. Now only 67% are in favor. There is increasing discussion of legalization of drugs--or acquiescence in the drug trade, which used to be presumed to be a US not Mexican problem.
Ah yes. The bane of the cartels - legalization. It would put them out of business. Can't have that. The big bribes will stop before my mortgage is paid off. A disaster. So down with legalization. Death to legalizers. We must never give up. We can win this fight. I see great progress being made. Why just yesterday after a twenty year long investigation my forces found and destroyed two kilos of the most potent pot known to man. Billions of times more powerful than anything your parents smoked. Pot like that is worth thousands of trillions of dollars. And we destroyed it all saving our kids from death, destruction, perdition, and the munchies. Can I have my money now?
The bottom line--- the drug cartels cannot defeat the government through direct violent confrontation. The Armed Forces in particular can at any point on the ground or at sea confront and dismantle a direct threat to the security forces. The most effective tool of the criminal cartels is narco-terrorism -- and corruption and intimidation of the populace to convince the political authorities to remain passive in the face of criminal behavior.
Whew it is cheaper to buy than to fight. How much are you costing them General? What is the Colonel's cut? If you don't mind my asking. Well since you put it that way I withdraw my question. Just forget I ever asked it. I want to live long and prosper. How much is in it for me?
President Calderon has charted a bold and heroic path for the state. His senior law enforcement officer - Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna - has placed his life on the line. The Federal police motto is "Ni un paso atras" (not one step back). Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been murdered. They have seized massive quantities of contraband from these criminal threat forces. (70,000 kilograms of cocaine, 3,700 tons of marijuana, $304 million dollars, 28,000 weapons, 2000 hand grenades, 3 million rounds of ammo.) President Calderon has for the first time in Mexican history boldly used the tool of extradition to the US. (83 major drug criminals sent north.)
Yep. 500,000 drug criminals in Mexico and they sent north a whole 83 of them. Not to worry. They were from a rival gang and we got their business. Profits all around. Except for the evil drug runners from that other gang who deserved it for muscling in on our territory. That'll teach them to mess with us. We bought the government first and an honest government it is. They stay bought. Or else.
The strategy articulated by Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora is to break up the four major drug cartels into 50 smaller entities and take away their firepower and huge financial resources. The senior Mexican leadership have tried to organize the ten US and Mexican Border States to form active cross-border partnerships for law enforcement and drug prevention cooperation. The Mexicans know a central piece of their strategy has to be the modernization of the Mexican justice system and the modernization of the economy.
Ah yes. Drug prevention. If we prevent drugs the drugs will no longer be a menace. And besides even (especially) if we are only partially effective prices will go up. And you know the competition is killing us. We must put a stop to it. For the children. And our profits. My wife (the bitch) wants a new car and a diamond bracelet. So it is critical to destroy those other gangs or my wife will be bitching for months. I hate that. And she knows it.
Now is the time during the opening months of a new US Administration to jointly commit to a fully resourced major partnership as political equals of the Mexican government. We must jointly and respectfully cooperate to address the broad challenges our two nations face. Specifically, we must support the Government of Mexico's efforts to confront the ultra violent drug cartels. We must do so in ways that are acceptable to the Mexican polity and that take into account Mexican sensitivities to sovereignty. The United States Government cannot impose a solution. The political will is present in Mexico to make the tough decisions that are required to confront a severe menace to the rule of law and the authority of the Mexican state. Where our assistance can be helpful, we must provide it. The challenge is so complex that it will require sustained commitment and attention at the highest levels of our two governments. We cannot afford to fail.
We will decimate the rival gangs and bring profits back in line with my wife's demands. Peace at home requires it.

Or we could just legalize and put an end to this whole sordid farce.

BTW Barry McCaffrey is no fool. He has to know that drug prohibition is supporting these gangs and yet his prescription is to fight the drug war harder. Do you suppose he is on the take?

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 01.05.09 at 04:04 AM


BTW Barry McCaffrey is no fool. He has to know that drug prohibition is supporting these gangs and yet his prescription is to fight the drug war harder. Do you suppose he is on the take?

That is my unfortunate conclusion, too.

dr kill   ·  January 5, 2009 8:01 AM

Political corruption in Mexico?

No! This is a new development! Mexican politics was so open and honest before the drug cartels!

PS: Don't understand why dr kill is so quick to discount the idea of McCaffrey as fool.

Rhodium Heart   ·  January 6, 2009 4:24 PM


There are no fools at his level of the drug war.

Why do I say that? Because his mission is to defeat the legalizers. To do that he has to know their arguments at least as well as they do. So how well does the General know the legalizer's arguments? He will not debate them.

He did it once or twice and they wiped the floor with him.

So does he know their arguments? You betcha! Thus - no fool.

M. Simon   ·  January 7, 2009 4:05 AM

"Or we could just legalize and put an end to this whole sordid farce."

And giving in to terror represents what classical value?

Josh   ·  January 7, 2009 2:39 PM

"And giving in to terror represents what classical value?"


("Giving in." I like that. Never surrender to freedom and sanity, Josh.)

Lark   ·  January 11, 2009 12:34 PM


I fail to see how putting terrorists (narcos and others) out of business is not a Classical Value.

In fact making drugs legal, if you consider history (they were all legal before 1900) is a Classical Value.

But I like Lark's answer best. Winning is a Classical Value. And winning in this case is done by changing the economic situation. It worked against Capone's Gang and the thugs of his era. It can work again.

M. Simon   ·  January 11, 2009 9:00 PM

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