Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Bad Neighbor


Tuesday afternoon two US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were traveling on a busy highway between Monterrey and Mexico City when they were fired upon. One of the agents was killed, the other injured. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, said that the agents were “shot in the line of duty” and that “any act of violence against our ICE personnel… is an attack against all those who serve our nation…”
The Washington Post said that attacks against US law enforcement in Mexico are rare. But I think we’ve all noted the sheer magnitude of violence emanating from the budding Mexican Drug State.

From just this month:

Sure, Mexico is a little ticked that US Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal made a comment calling the violence associated with Mexico’s drug cartels a form of insurgency. But the association is, in my mind, legitimate.
The question is what can and/or should be done about the situation. Certainly violence spilling over into California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas from northern Mexico is fathomable. Is this a crime issue, is it a defense issue? Is it both?
Westphal also suggested the possibility of the US sending troops over the border to prevent cartels from taking over Mexico. Of course, everyone quickly distanced themselves from Westphal off-the-cuff remarks. Still, the suggestion hangs in the air and every time I read another story of beheadings, or shootings, or bombs in Mexico I wonder how far, how bad, the situation has to be before action is taken?
I believe it would be unwise to send in the Army to sort out Mexico’s drug problem, but the situation is clearly out-of-hand. No matter what Hillary says about President Calderon taking on the traffickers and corruption issues there is little evidence that either problem has been satisfactorily tackled. 
Something needs to be done, by someone. But no one really knows what, or by whom.

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