Saturday, December 03, 2011

Clear and Present Danger - Part 2

After reading a timely book review from Small Wars Journal, U.S. Army Special Forces warrant officer, Dennis Castellanos sites that Sylvia Longmire's recently published book provides an essential overview of Mexico’s Drug War and its current impact on the United States’ national security. “Cartel: The coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars,” details a thorough analysis of the drug violence along our border, within Mexico and explains the consequences of this brewing conflict. She discusses among other things America’s insatiable appetite for drugs, President Calderon’s current strategy to counter cartels, and the transformation of drug trafficking organizations. Drawing from her experience as a senior intelligence analyst of drug trafficking and border violence, Longmire exposes gaps in existing policies of both the United States and Mexico and the spill-over effect of criminal activities that are historically associated with border towns, and are now present in cities like Atlanta; one of many which is evolving into distribution hubs of illegal narcotics.

Small Wars Journal contributor Castellanos makes a great point that "her book makes a great addition to the limited selection, yet necessary contemporary literature on the Mexican drug war" and with the continuous reports of violence, murder and drug busts in Mexico and along the US – Mexico border, you can’t help but wonder why this “Clear and Present Danger” isn’t taken more seriously by the U.S. media, its citizens and our government. It is almost as if the Tom Clancy movie is being played out every day to circumvent the key players –U.S. demand and the drug cartels-, but serious policies needed to counter U.S. demand and undermine the drug cartels’ power are overshadowed in the media by investigations of “covert operations” and Homeland Security budgets and resources allocated to the border and other areas of interest.

Weekly there are horrific reports and embarrassing security discoveries by U.S. border patrols of the clever drug trafficking strategies, operations and techniques carried out by the drug cartels. For example, on November 17 authorities seized more than 17 tons of marijuana after discovery of a major cross-border drug tunnel between Mexico and California near the town of Tijuana. This isn’t some town in the middle of a scarce desert – it’s a heavily populated and patrolled area on the border near San Diego. How can this go unnoticed unless the U.S. side has been infiltrated? And just this past week Reuters reported that Mexican authorities found more than 20 bodies in cars left at a major traffic intersection in the western city of Guadalajara on Thursday –adding to some of the worst attacks since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and declared war on powerful drug cartels. More than 45,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since 2006 and it is infiltrating our country.

Supposedly, current and former officials are reporting that as the United States has opened new law enforcement and intelligence outposts across Mexico in recent years, Washington’s networks of informants have grown there as well. They have helped Mexican authorities capture or kill about two dozen high-ranking and midlevel drug traffickers, and sometimes have given American counter-narcotics agents access to the top leaders of the cartels they are trying to dismantle. But as in the Tom Clancy movie, if the U.S. realized that the drug war isn’t just a Homeland Security issue but a “Clear and Present Danger” to National Security issue then maybe more would be done and an all-inclusive series of policies would be implemented.

And although Longmire holds that the drug war will never be won and that it can only be managed and contained, I cannot help but wonder why this war is not taken more seriously by our citizens and media compared to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? There isn’t an ocean separating us from this war, Congress discusses policies weekly to address concerns, and it IS claiming the lives of U.S. citizens daily, both officially through direct border confrontation and unofficially by U.S. “consumers” of illegal drugs.

I hope Longmire’s book will be added to the National Security curriculum in the future. And maybe if social media outlets would prioritize and “share” this conflict with each other – then more citizens would be made aware of its effect on their local society and discuss in depth what level of violence is acceptable and ask, “Does this conflict have to claim the lives of someone you know before you take it seriously?”


Anonymous said...

Looks like you read the Small Wars Journal review. You should probably be a little more careful with citing, especially such a memorable line as ". . .The limited selection, yet necessary contemporary literature" lifted straight from the article:’s-drug-wars

SemperGumbi said...

Thank you for this observation - I needed to add the link and quotation.