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The Third War

July 16, 2008

The drug wars in Mexico have exterminated more than 4200 people in the last year and a half. The U.S. has spent $1.4 billion to train and arm Mexican forces. That doesn’t count what the United States federal government has spent on the border fence or securing the country on this side of the border.

The war has been battled for decades with little yield. Since the U.S. is a major destination for the drugs smuggled across the border, the U.S. has maintained a political interest on stemming the tide. Despite the huge expense, the fields of Mexico are stacked with poor peasants, drug runners, assassins and poorly-paid officials willing to make a buck at any cost. The cash crop of Mexican society has been irrepressible despite government pledges of reform. Reform always takes another day.

George Bush and Felipe Calderon have teamed up to produce the Merida Initiative. This move supplies helicopters, scanner, drug dogs and computer equipment to fight the war on drugs. George Bush’s father did much the same thing back in 1989, a victory stand against drugs. Uncle Sam is very effective at looking busy. Drug lords are very effective and motivated to find new ways around technology and military spending. The profits are simply too high to ignore. With a global market, the profit and opportunity is only greater. NAFTA access has negated border security.

Somehow, the U.S. government is able to estimate that the border drug war is a losing battle of statistics. The volume of drugs imported from Mexico continues to increase while more people die. Felipe Calderon says that the fight is yielding good results. “This is making it so that the gangs are fighting among themselves and that is causing the deaths that are occurring in the country.” Strangely, a majority of deaths among drug gangs are occurring in places where Mexico’s cash crop of tomatoes, peppers and condiments are grown, like Chihuahua and Sinaloa. Perhaps food imports are another way that drug runners are able to bring illegal contraband into the U.S.

Reports are that Mexico is seizing record amounts of drugs, money and arms from cartels. The turmoil has been vicious, in part, due to police corruption, coupled with the fact that the Mexican government is no longer negotiating with drug cartels. Instead, the declaration is to finish cartels off as a matter of national preservation. That may be public policy, but is it real? Only time will tell.

Mexico continues to be politically divided. Infighting is a way of life. The Mexican government has plans to double the size of the police force to take on the role of the Mexican military. Purging local corruption with public safety measures is the latest emphasis in Mexico. Actual border security is another issue receiving more attention.

Calderon is pushing for drug testing in Mexican students and beautifying the country to counteract blight. Beautifying the Mexican countryside doesn’t appear to be bearing fruit. The violence and corruption are so prevalent in part, because the police are directly involved in running the drugs and insist in their piece of the action. The vigilante cops in some areas are being disarmed by federal officials in Mexico, but with limited results. Mexican military is also directly involved in narcotics. Continuing to send money to Mexico seems like a giant ponzi scheme.

The larger problem is in the Mexican pharmaceutical industry, where cheap drugs can be secured to create narcotics instead of producing drugs in the States. Chemicals are routed through Mexico and from China, India and Hong Kong, creating a global drug threat from multiple points. Considering the lax attention to imports in the United States, there is little doubt that a drug bonanza exists throughout U.S. ports of entry. An effort to read the volume of reports on Mexican drug cartels numbs the mind and soul. Clearly, drugs are a way of life in Mexico. There is little good news, only hope as long as the battle continues.

To that end, George Bush recently allotted $400 million for Mexico to spend on battling drug lords. The news isn’t good on a large scale, but like the war on terror against insurgents in Iran and Afghanistan, the political word is that continuing the battle is the only way to win the war. The good news is that U.S. border officials and volunteers are seeing major victories including seizures.

Perhaps keeping U.S. money within the United States appears to be the way to go for the best results. Still, accountability can be a problem. Most U.S. politicians don’t see accountability as an issue. Good intentions are more important than good results. So far, Congress has been only too happy to spend available money on foreign powers, even though results are in question or long in coming. Who secures all the money spent? The money is secured by the sweat and toil of the American taxpayer and the continued collection from the public. The abuse of public monies never ends and we have become accustomed to abuse as a way of life. The Third War on foreign soil is no different from the other two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The national strain of supporting foreign wars without benchmarking real results is resulting in wasted resources that can never be regained and a cash cow of influence for politicians, with little or no benefit to the people that actually fund the measures.

With NAFTA in tow, the Third War is bigger than America thinks.

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