Monday, March 15, 2010

War: The United States' Failed Model

El Universal editorial

How advanced must a military be in order to eliminate an enemy that is easily confused with the civilian population?  The United States, which possesses the most powerful armed forces on the planet, has not figured out the answer.  This is why it will leave Iraq decimated, discredited, with public opinion against it, and leaving the Middle East in conditions that favor extremism:  polarization, insecurity, and misery.  This is why it is incapable of stopping drug trafficking in its own territory.  Various areas of Mexico, as well as our military, could suffer the same fate if the climate of war that they suffer from is further prolonged.

Ciudad Juarez is the classic example.  Thousands of soldiers have not been able to put an end to extortion, kidnappings, murders, economic collapse, and a dead nightlife.  It is logical up to a certain point because procuring justice isn't the military's job.  Only a security force under civilian command, dedicated to due process, can achieve that.  Acapulco, Reynosa, and Tampico seem to be following the same path.

And what does the United States do?  It grants resources through the Merida Initiative to train police, while the Pentagon plans to increase anti-drug training for Mexican soldiers.  A contradiction.  Wasn't it our neighbors' State Department that this past March announced that the police would be professionalized to that the military would no longer have to do public security work?  The United States should know this already: when soldiers remain amongst the civilian population, abuse proliferates and with it delegitimization of the soldiers.  If the Pentagon is taking these actions without the White House's consent, Barack Obama should concentrate on coordinating his agencies rather than issuing press releases expressing his outrage.

It appears that the United States does not want its neighbor to learn the painful lesson that it has had to learn.  Because even though Mexico is different than Colombia or Afghanistan, all armed conflicts have one thing in common: the breakdown of the social fabric and the destabilization of institutions.  In chaos, the law of the jungle prevails, and so do groups who operate outside the law, call them what you wish: paramilitaries, drug traffickers, or terrorists.

At this point, Mexico should learn that it cannot trust directives from the United States.  Our powerful neighbor is a horrible example to follow for two reasons.  1) It has been unable, with all its might, to stop drug trafficking in Asia and Latin America.  2) The high level of corruption amongst its border officials as well as its population's massive addiction to drugs demonstrate that it is not willing to take on the costs of a real war on drugs.  It is never good to emulate losers.

Translated by Kristin Bricker
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