Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Do We Really Need an Air Force?
Friday, February 18, 2011
Mexico’s Drug War: An Insurgency?
While the drug lords are out to make money and will stop those in their path (the state), Negroponte suggests that they have no interest in gaining political control. They resort to violence as a result of interference in their affairs. To some, this lack of political motive may appear to be in contradiction with the notion of an insurgency, and it may seem illogical to look to a counterinsurgency strategy for reform.
However, Negroponte’s article has a great deal of merit in suggesting that COIN strategy does in fact have the potential to rectify the problems looming in Mexico. She defines counterinsurgency as “measures to secure the population and mobilize sufficient strength to allow the state to dominate.”
Moreover, she argues that Mexico has already established most of the programs listed in her six COIN-based prongs, but it is lacking a national consensus. Mexicans must want security and need to put pressure on their government to provide it to its citizens. Yet, her article also argues that this national consensus won’t come about without leadership that is viewed as legitimate and without corruption.
Her favorable view of the use of COIN strategy in Mexico may prove effective, but the biggest oversight of the article is her neglect of the role the United States plays. The drug war will never end if the United States does not step up its efforts to control drug trafficking on the U.S. side of the border and work with Mexico to encourage further use of counterinsurgency practices. The U.S. has started to work with Mexican forces to train in areas such as intelligence and proper human rights practices (Sheridan). These energies must continue and improve in the future. As with any counterinsurgency operation, the goal is to get the Mexico to stand on its own two feet in addressing the problems within its borders.
Moreover, effective COIN strategy places emphasis on combating corruption. For Mexico, corruption within its government and police forces is an epidemic and has to be rectified before Mexicans will believe in the people running their country. As it stands now, many would argue that President Calderon has done an abysmal job at combating dishonesty and bribery. Greater pressure should be put on the Mexico government by the United States to ensure increased transparency and accountability to its citizens.
In the end, this is a very brief snippet of the drug related violence and crime in Mexico. Yet, it is safe to suggest that attempting a COIN approach to fix these problems must include further commitment from the United States. This assistance could come in the way of more training and funds like the proposed $50 million from the Pentagon’s 2011 budget (Sheridan). Deeper cooperation with Mexico is necessary for the United States not only because it is a neighbor, but also because the United States is gaining vast COIN experience in Iraq and Afghanistan that has the potential to be beneficial in combating drug related crime and violence.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
A Bad Neighbor
Monday, February 14, 2011
Oh, those weapons of mass effect....
While we haven't talked too much about the coast guard and Customs & Border Protection lately, it appears they've been pretty busy protecting us against weapons of 'mass effect'. Or, at least, telling us about the people who have been.
A few days ago, San Diego’s local 10 News ran an interview with the San Diego assistant port director, Mr Hallor, (who is also a CBP officer) on the exact nature of the work CBP does. It seems they got a lot more than they had initially expected though...
About halfway through the interview, 10News's Mitch Blacher asked the officer if they'd found anything dangerous, including chemical/biological/radiological weapons. And then....
"You ever found one?" asked Blacher with a boyish secrecy, referring to WMDs.
"But they have found them?" asked Blacher.
"Yes," said Hallor.
"You never found one in San Diego though?" Blacher asked.
"I would say at the port of San Diego we have not," Hallor said.
The interview is halted before Hallor was able to answer any further questions. Customs and Border Protection later (23 days later) said in a statement it had "not specifically had any incidents with nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry." Hallor also noted in the interview that in this fiscal year, CBP had not found anything. Oh, how important phrasing can be!
While 100 per cent of the cargo that is on passenger aircraft headed the United States must be screened by the end of this year, we are nowhere near these numbers for incoming shipping containers or cars.
Is it more comforting to know that these things are found (or, not found), and naught a word is spoken about them? The Daily Mail, of course, thinks we've got a massive government cover-up on our hands. I think, for sure, we've got a massive learning experience on our hands... but what do we do? Do we devote more efforts to scanning incoming cargo (at a cost of 18 million dollars per cargo scanner) , put more responsibility on other nations to scan outgoing cargo, or just hope the media never finds out about these things?
Friday, February 04, 2011
Oh wait, maybe not. Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, the second-most senior commander in Afghanistan, recently claimed that U.S. and NATO "could succeed in the war even if Pakistan refused to shut down [its] lawless frontier sanctuary that militants use for staging attacks on forces across the border." Rodriguez is the one in charge of the "day-to-day fighting in Afghanistan" so I'm compelled to hear him out. He points out that because Taliban forces sustained such heavy losses this past year, they will more likely shift their focus of attack from military forces to public officials. Such a diminished force would probably be unable to pose a significant military challenge. In short, if Pakistan doesn't want to help, that's fine.
General Rodriguez's comments also highlight the unintended benefit of Pakistan's inability to secure the tribal regions: drones are better at finding insurgents when they are concentrated in one place. North Waziristan may be a lawless safe haven for insurgents, but "safe" may not be a good word for it, since U.S. drone strikes are becoming more frequent there. Few people would characterize the daily chance of fiery death from above as "safe."
Furthermore, clashes between Afghan and Pakistani security forces have increased due to accusations that both sides are corrupt and are allowing insurgents to cross the border unhindered. Just two days ago, a firefight (including MORTARS) broke out along the border that resulted in the death of a Pakistani soldier. Both sides blame the other for shooting first.
I have a kooky idea: if you're guarding the border, guard the freaking border. Don't guard the other guards. See this video for more on guards.
What do YOU think, dear reader? Is victory in Af dependent on Pak?