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Squelch any talk of U.S. troops joining Mexico’s drug war

Published: Sat, November 20, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

Drug-gang violence south of the border has reached a horrendous and frightening level.

Every day there is a new horror story of innocent people being killed, of battles between Mexican police and well-armed drug gangs, of officials who are leading crackdowns being assassinated.

Earlier this week, NPR reported that the border city of Ciudad Mier had become a ghost town. All but a few hundred of what was once a city of more than 6,000 had fled. The police station was firebombed and police vehicles set ablaze. The city has become the center of a turf war between two drug gangs, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas mafia over smuggling routes that run through or near the town.

The McAllen, Texas, Monitor reports that more than 29,000 people have been killed in Mexican drug violence since late 2006. To give the reader a feel for that number, it is a little less than the population of Austintown.

And there is no question that the United States is to an arguable degree complicit in this violence. It is the U.S. appetite for drugs that is fueling the war. There are enormous amounts of greenbacks at stake. And many of the weapons being used in this war come from the United States, the estimated percentage ranging from a low of 20 percent to a high of 90 percent. A report released this month by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and based on data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, documented 19,000 guns found in the Mexican drug war that came from stores in the United States, mostly in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

And there is spillover violence from Mexico to border towns and border states that must be of concern to the United States.

But it is primarily Mexico’s problem, and Mexicans are dying every day because of it.

The United States has been providing assistance in this war, as it should and as it must. But a line must be drawn.

A dangerous trial balloon

Americans who are looking for where to draw that line can look to statements this week by Texas Gov. Rick Perry for guidance.

During an interview on MSNBC, Perry was asked, “Would you advocate military involvement in Mexico on the Mexico side of the border to help Mexico in this drug war?”

He responded: “I think we have to use every aspect of law enforcement that we have, including the military. I think you have the same situation as you had in Colombia. Obviously, Mexico has to approve any type of assistance that we can give them.

“But the fact of the matter is, these are people who are highly motivated with money. They are vicious. They are armed to the teeth. I want to see them defeated. And any means that we can to run these people off our border and to save Americans’ lives we need to be engaged in.”

Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said Perry’s point is that the U.S. must consider all options to secure the border.

No, not all options. Sending U.S. troops into yet another nation is not an option.

We’ll stipulate that it is highly unlikely that the Mexican government would welcome U.S. troops fighting on its land. But it doesn’t hurt for the rest of America to take note of what Perry — and perhaps some others on the border — are hinting at.

U.S. soldiers fighting and dying in a war with Mexican drug gangs should be off the table. We are trying to extricate our troops from two other fronts, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress is talking about pulling troops out of strategic outposts in Europe and Asia. This is not the time for the governor of Texas or anyone else to be rattling sabers toward Mexico.


1Traveler(606 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

We shouldn't send troops in to Mexico but we real need to start worrying. If things keep going on like they have been in Mexico. We will have a failed state like Somali or Afghanistan on our border. We need to acknowledge that Mexico problems can be trace to our drug problem. We need to help Mexico out by shutting down the border.
It is past time to replace the border patrol with the national guard. If they cant smuggle drugs across the Mexican border. The Mexican drug cartels will lose there power.

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2richmx2(1 comment)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Your editorial was linked to one of the Latin American policy blogs (which, being a long-time resident of Mexico and writer on Mexican history, I am more likely to read than the Vindicator -- sorry about that).

One thing that perhaps isn't clear in your excellent editorial is that this "war" started in late 2006 following the disputed election of the sitting President (who received only slightly more than a third of the votes in a five-candidate race). Without getting into all the "alternative" proposals, leave it at saying this is not a "failed state", but many in Mexico would say we have a "failed administration policy."

Overwhelmingly, the violence is on the U.S. border -- where the economy had gone to hell as both a by-product of the U.S. economic downturn and the border closings post 9-11. It's our "rust belt", and -- coupled with the devastation of Mexican agriculture post-NAFTA -- the narco-biz is one of the few viable economic options in that part of the country.

While innocents have been killed (leading to massive protests against the government), and border residents feel they are under siege, the huge majority of Mexicans do not sense social collapse: people are going on with the hum-drum daily lives

That's a policy failure (made worse by throwing soldiers and sailors at the problem), not a failure of the state. The party in power is expected to lose the 2012 Presidential elections and policies here will change. Just last week, Congress rejected more military spending in the national budget... the point being this is that despite the irresponsible ravings of people like the Governor of Texas, this is hardly a "failed state", nor one seeking foreign intervention, especially from the country that is seen as the source of the problem.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

While a raging inferno is at our doorstep we are wasting our time half a world away . We will have no choice but to invade Mexico when cross border clashes start occurring in a big way . At this point the smart move would be to annex Mexico . Millions of Mexicans already living in the USA would support this move .

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4Woody(493 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Potential names should we annex Mexico:
Old Mexico
New Texas
South Texas

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5paulydel(1607 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

We as a world power have no choice but to protect our interests around the world. Saying that we spend to much time talking and not enough doing. We need to secure our borders immediately and stop pussyfooting around likw we usually do. We need to be more like Isreal and just do the job and get out instead of dragging things out. Any real american would want to secure our borders from any illegal alien entering this country without eaarning their way in.

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