Watch out, Mexico. According to a U.S. Joint Forces report covered by the Miami Herald, it looks like your northern neighbor has lost total faith and actually believes you’re as likely to “rapidly and suddenly” collapse as Pakistan.
Now, the bad news is that the bells of alarm have some reason to sound. Drug cartels do rule large parts of Mexico, especially the north, and there were more than 5,000 drug related deaths in 2008. I hate to say it but Mexico may have gotten in over its head going after the narcos. It’s honorable to finally take a stand, but it may be too late for a conventional war against organized crime. These are not thugs we’re talking about. They are sophisticated military units, with grenades, Iran-trained fighters and their own convoys of submarines (which they can afford to destroy after a single delivery). And they’re probably run by your Kennedy School classmates.
The worse bad news though is that doomsday and alarmist publications like the US report certainly don’t help things and probably worsen them. Mexico admittedly has problems, but it is not heading for collapse. People from inside Mexico, like exiting ambassador Tony Garza, say that while more days of violence loom, a failed state is not in Mexico’s future. The worst that can happen, and it would be a tragedy, is increased militarization of Mexico (i.e., martial law).
Though Mexico has intense security threats, the more imposing and lurking threat is increasing poverty. The Mexican economy is already on a downward spiral, with Calderón recently announcing Mexico’s entry into recession. Prediciting a possible “collapse” is likely to kill the climate for business investment and job creation, the cornerstones of Mexico’s social development plan, Vivir Mejor, to help Mexicans out of poverty.
What is needed to stop drug violence is not reports, but rather serious reconsideration of strategies and cooperation between the Mexico and the US. Though it may be unpopular in two very socially conservative countries, it is time to put decriminalization on the consideration table, and actually do something to curb the bloodshed. It is also high time to beef up anti-gun regulations in the US, especially in southern states where guns are easily available, and at least put up an effort to stop the massive influx of guns from the US to Mexico (where guns are illegal). As it stands now, my coworker and I, who drive into Mexico without the Mexican authorities as much as flinching, could be bringing in arsenals of AK 47s in our trunks daily.
And the good news? … Obama is being inaugurated today, and maybe, maybe, he and Calderón, who met for the first time last week, will begin to address these issues with heads on their shoulders, and not like chickens running around with their heads cut off, clucking “collapse, collapse!”