Time To Defend the U.S.

The retreat from Afghanistan is a significant U.S. loss, but the Taliban never threatened the homeland itself. Similarly, a variety of other U.S. wars – Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia – have not endangered the U.S. But one country continues to press, indeed invade the U.S. without let-up – neighboring Mexico, or rather the drug cartels that control it. The exceptional country, as we’re sometimes called, has been exceptionally forbearing.

Photo by www.vox.com Megan Jelinger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

This geopolitical anomaly has been the stuff of satire. Take the Babylon Bee whose fake headline reads: “President Trump is under heavy criticism for announcing the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexican border with critics slamming him for using the military for the bizarre purpose of defending the country.” No one is sure where Trump got this strange idea. A soldier complains: “I signed up to occupy Afghanistan, not defend the country. When I said I’d defend American freedoms, I meant I’d defend them abroad, not defend them at home.”

The comic approaches reality when U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin assures Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the U.S. will help defend Saudi Arabia’s borders with Yemen, a smaller neighbor it has pummeled mercilessly in a six-year war. Some borders are more deserving than others.

The problem is the U.S border has never been more vulnerable. The highly organized, unrelenting drug cartels are pushing more hard and dangerous drugs than ever into the U.S. along with migrants who are forced to pay $12,000 for the trip or more if they’re from outside Mexico and Central America. It has been a cartel bonanza. And now the cartels are making a home in the U.S. interior – more than a thousand illegal marijuana farms in the California desert and counting. Not to mention all the distribution networks throughout the country, leading to the retail gangs that battle one another over drug deals in the inner cities.

Photo by military.com (U.S. Army/Army Spc. Ethan Valetski)

It’s clearly a national problem that needs a national solution. And that would mean engaging the U.S. military to make up for the outmanned and underfunded local law enforcement. Starting with the British soldiers quartered in colonists’ homes before the Revolution, Americans have always been wary of military involvement in domestic troubles. So, it has been used sparingly over the years, occasionally to break up riot-prone strikes or to enforce desegregation against resisting mobs in the south. There was of course the massive deployment of troops in the tumultuous Civil War.

But these were all fellow Americans. The cartel invasion is foreign for which there  are Constitutional provisions to react. This is where lessons learned from recent dubious wars can apply. While they were not won, U.S. troops were highly successful in punitive raids, in and out fast with maximum damage and minimal casualties. Writes U.S. Marine veteran Gil Barn dollar in The Wall Street Journal: “Thanks to strategic mobility, expeditionary logistics and high levels of readiness, the U.S. military is peerless when it comes to projecting combat power.”

That would readily apply to any action against the cartels. The idea is not to try to conquer Mexico and take the half that remains after the U.S. conquest of the 1840s. It’s to repel the cartels from the border and from the interior. Some thirty thousand troops could seal the border. Another ten thousand could flush out the cartel marijuana farms in California which alarm and intimidate inhabitants and keep new ones from starting.

Since the cartels have become very adventurous in crossing the border, the U.S. could pursue them if necessary, into Mexico. It’s their land, and they have forfeited it. There may be no final victory. We’re used to that. But in stalling and weakening the cartels, we can come to the rescue of both the U.S. and Mexico whose people have suffered indescribable brutality at the hands of the cartels.

Drugs and Migrants on the March

A surge is when Grant took Richmond. It doesn’t describe the more refined tactics of the Mexican drug cartels in their effort to outwit the outmanned U.S. Border Patrol as they push drugs and migrants across the border. Seizing on President Biden’s more lenient immigration policies, they have sent clusters of desperate Mexicans and others into strategic openings along the 2,000 mile border, popping up here and there, day and night to the consternation of frustrated guards.

More than in the Trump era, migrants are piling up in overcrowded facilities which the Biden Administration has tried to conceal from prying media eyes in an information crackdown that is new to the border. One exception is Catholic Charities whose shelter in McAllen, Texas, houses hundreds of migrants in reasonably comfortable conditions. What’s that long line? I asked. They’re going to breakfast.

Catholic Charities immigrant center, McAllen, TX

Vice President Kamala Harris has been in contact with Central American leaders to determine the “root cause” of the enhanced migration. She doesn’t have to look very far. When questioned, migrants say they are fleeing the violence for the safety of the U.S. The drug cartels who are threatening their lives are also encouraging them to leave. It’s very profitable. They charge as much as $25 thousand per migrant, and they control the whole border on the Mexican side. You don’t pay, you don’t cross, and maybe you don’t continue to live.

As usual, the American media has little to say about the role of the cartels in the current “crisis” or “challenge.” That’s because American drug consumers, abetted by American money launderers, keep the cartels in business. Stop the drug traffic, and the border would clear up. But too many are making too much money for that to happen.

The U.S doesn’t have to be quite so tolerant of the cartels. They are more aggressive than ever. A group of U.S. senators boating on the Rio Grande that divides the two countries were startled by cartels taunting them from the other side. Goodness me! The cartels knew what they were doing. Nothing to fear from U.S. officialdom.

It does seem strange that the U.S. sends its military to obscure places all over the world to preserve borders, but won’t put troops on its own border in defense of the country against a genuine threat. When traffickers toss a couple of small children over the fence on to U.S. soil, we simply watch them do it. Then off they scamper. If U.S. soldiers went over the fence in pursuit and apprehended them even if it meant venturing into the interior, long suffering Mexicans under cartel rule would only applaud. We need a clear view of what is in the national interest on the border.

A Welcoming Mexican Town

Don’t go to Agua Prieta, we were told. Too dangerous. Indeed there have been drug cartel shootings as recently as June a year ago. But today I can vouch that it’s easy and quite safe to visit the border town across from Douglas, Arizona. It’s humming with activity with a growing population, though it is of course under the control of the drug cartels which are in charge of the rest of Mexico.

My guide for the day, Keoki Skinner, is an American who has lived in Agua Prieta for thirty years. He married a Mexican woman, and they have five bilingual children who are at home in both countries. He takes pride in Cafe Justo, a coffee co-op started by a Presbyterian ministry that has lifted some forty growers in the south out of poverty. The prized coffee is roasted, sipped and sold at a congenial setting in Agua Prieta.

Picking coffee beans for Cafe Justo

Similarly, a group of equally industrious women called DouglaPrieta Works are engaged in sewing and painting a variety of items for sale here and in the U.S. They take time out from their pleasant work to offer visitors some food from the garden they tend. The aim of this kind of enterprise is to make conditions in Mexico livable so that people don’t feel they have to risk crossing the border for a better life.

The women of DouglaPrieta Works

But they are not entirely free where they live. Drug money rules Agua Prieta, as it does the rest of Mexico, and it’s an exacting boss. Offend it, and you become part of the statistic of an ever rising murder rate. If people mind their own business in Agua Prieta, the cartels leave them alone. Besides, the town is profitable and a nice place to live for relaxing cartel chiefs. Keoki points out their splendid mansions, what he calls “drug architecture,” clearly distinguishable from the lesser abodes around them. The most ostentatious one of all, outfitted with columns, is presently empty because its owner was forced to flee. Nobody seems in a hurry to take it over

Another home is owned by a sicario (combination body guard and hit man) who was given it as a reward for saving the life of the drug chief he served. His door looks open, but Keoki is not tempted to go in, though he says, not in jest, that if he’s in trouble, he would call a sicario rather than the police. His one brush with cartel activity came one night when he was awakened by the sound of an air cannon shooting bundles of marijuana across the border – a latest device to get their product to avid consumers

Wherever you go in Agua Prieta it’s hard to miss the houses of exchange where dollars of U.S. drug profits are converted to pesos. Business is booming. Yet many billions remain in the U.S. circulating into willing hands who are not so willing to have the fact revealed. That may explain why so little is heard or read about cartel activity. In a vast contribution to economic inequality in the U.S., the money that Americans pay for their poison further enriches the affluent.

Can Agua Prieta serve as a model for other Mexican towns under cartel supervision? It’s currently spared violence and can prosper. The cartels could moderate, but don’t count on it. Money is king. Many say the U.S., now involved in countless wars and struggles half a globe away, must turn its attention to the more threatening struggle just across its border.

More Journalists Killed in Mexico

Compared to the massacres in Ohio and Texas, it seems rather insignificant: three more Mexican journalists murdered in a week. Yet the mass killings of journalists in Mexico – some 100 since 2000 and ten so far this year – have been largely ignored by U.S. Government and media as if to say, they’re only Mexicans, what do you expect? That they’re right next door across our border doesn’t seem to matter. Continue reading “More Journalists Killed in Mexico”

Is War with Mexico Possible?

As Mexican cartels continue to drive more drugs and people across the U.S. border, there’s talk of using American troops to combat them.

The U.S. surely doesn’t need another war, but some degree of force may be necessary to contain the drug cartels that are becoming more of a menace on the border with violence uncomfortably close and sometimes slipping over. Continue reading “Is War with Mexico Possible?”

The Unmentionable Drug Cartels

What organization on earth is the most dangerous to America yet rarely mentioned? Why, the unmentionable drug cartels.

In all the obsessive coverage of the border, blame is lavishly handed out to all and sundry – President Trump, the U.S. Congress, uncontrolled borders, Mexican and Central American politics, sinking economies, the stars in the heavens. But the real culprit remains in the shadows, which he prefers. Continue reading “The Unmentionable Drug Cartels”