Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mexicans Don't Want To Be Another Vietnam

Translator's note: The following translation mentions an unnamed report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  CRS researchers and other English-speaking drug trafficking experts have complained that other Proceso articles, including the one cited in this editorial, have misinterpreted a recent CRS report, taken quotes from it completely out of context, or, in some cases, completely invented quotes that never appear in the article.  They are right, and this editorial is not an exception: the first CRS "quote" in this editorial is taken completely out of context to the point where its original meaning is completely lost; the second "quote" appears nowhere in the report.  

Nonetheless, I believe this editorial is a very valid and poignant critique of what has been the United States' de facto strategy in Mexico--regardless of what the CRS report says.  Ignore mentions of the CRS report, and instead focus on the editorial's overall message about the Mexican drug war and the United States' role in it.


Thanks United States, But No Thanks
by Sabina Berman, Proceso

1.  Mexico City, April 20 - Now the northern giant looks at us attentively.  According to the advice of the United States Congressional Research Service's report, "the Pentagon should increase its role in the fight against drug trafficking" in our country (Proceso 1745, April 11, 2010).  The United States should send more and more sophisticated weapons, more economic resources, and more war specialists to Mexico.

As if the lessons from the past three years of war weren't clear: when State violence escalates, without a doubt drug traffickers will escalate their violence.

2.  The United States would arm the Mexican State's forces even more while drug traffickers arm themselves even more at  Texas, Nevada, and Arizona gun shows.  We will find ourselves, Mexicans, between US weapons and US weapons.  We supply the dead.

3.  It must be recognized that, as the report notes with particular sensitivity, that Mexico's sovereignty would be compromised.  "...there are opinions that with the the [United States] Department of Defense would transform itself in the master of control in Mexican territory."

4.  Coincidentally, President Barack Obama announced last week that light airplanes would fly over our shared border.  Let's choose correct words: they will patrol our shared border.  That is, it will be the air version of that wall that is comprised of concrete and virtual equipment, that impenetrable wall that the Republicans wanted to separate themselves from Mexico.

Which means that US weapons will battle against US weapons; in the middle will fall the dead Mexicans, and planes will patrol the border so that no one escapes.

It's an obvious trap.  Not a trap planned in malice.  But obvious nonetheless.

5.  The problem is not that it's an unjust war.  No one morally defends the drug traffickers.  Morally: seeing to the common good.  The narcos don't even consider themselves to be heros.  The problem is, what sort of country will the war leave us with?

Nor is it a question of if it is possible to defeat organized crime in ten or fifteen years.  The two numbers that President Calderon has mentioned, with rare lightness, as calculations for defeating organized crime.  The problem is, what country will be left after ten or fifteen years of war?

A country in ruins.  With an economy in ruins.  Not like the old days, when we were the 9th biggest economy in the world, or the 11th like we are now.  We would rank 20th, or 40th.

6.  But in the United States, who the hell believes that the solution is to escalate the violence in Mexico?  Who the hell thinks that the solution is to kill more kingpins, so that for every dead kingpin five little bosses fight to the death to take his place?  Who can't see what is already evident, that further pulverizing the drug trafficking structure means disorganizing its violence even more and increasing the extent of its chaos?  And who in their right mind believes that we Mexicans yearn for 15 years of war so that pot--the devil incarnate--won't be smoked in California's sunny gardens?

The military.

Of course: according to the military, the answer is the military.  US legislators need to listen to them, but after that they need to listen to better strategies.  Strategies to minimize the war, not make it bigger.  Minimize it by taking advantage of the US and Mexico's operational advantages, which necessarily include freezing drug traffickers' finances, stopping arms trafficking along the US-Mexico border, and legalizing marijuana.

How curious: those three measures have been declared "difficult" to achieve in the United States.  Mexicans need to be aware of this: before making important changes in the United States, the US believes that it is easier to "help" us by adding to the war arsenals on our side of the border.

7.  When was the last time US lawmakers read the Powell Doctrine?  Horrified by the bloody mess that Vietnam turned into, Colin Powell wrote a series of questions so that his country would never again create and drown in another Vietnam.

Is this war's objective clear?  Before declaring war, have peaceful means of resolving the conflict been exhausted?  Is the war quickly winnable?  Does the civilian population strongly support this war?

These are only some of the Powell Doctrine's questions.  Their answers, in the case of the war in Mexico, are all "no."  And even if no one is talking about sending US troops to Mexico, turning Mexico into a bloody mess for Mexican soldiers and civilians should be just as important to US lawmakers.

8.  The US doesn't want a new Vietnam.  Even more important for us: we don't want to be another Vietnam.  

So: Thank you, United States, but no thank you.

Translated by Kristin Bricker.
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