Barack Obama faces wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Hal Brands in World Politics Review, but he “would do well to pay equal attention to a third ongoing insurgency” as well—the “multifaceted narco-insurgency” in Mexico. Rich, well-armed drug cartels and the federal government have been “viciously fighting” since 2006, but the violence has escalated this year, claiming 5,000 lives since January. At this rate, Mexico “seems en route to becoming a failed state.”
“The idea of Mexico descending into anarchy or narco-dictatorship is frightening enough,” said The Arizona Republic in an editorial, but the insurgency also threatens “U.S. domestic tranquility.” We need to recognize that “U.S. demand for recreational drugs” is contributing to Mexico’s crisis, but also that our own security depends on making sure the cartels don’t win.
Unfortunately, with the sinking economy sending illegal immigrants back south of the border, said David Danelo in The Seattle Times, Mexico “has fallen off our political radar.” President Felipe Calderón has made “commendable efforts” to fight the cartels, but his 45,000 troops are “outgunned and outspent.” It’s beginning to look “disturbingly similar to Afghanistan.”
The U.S. “has pledged $400 million for Mexico’s police and courts, releasing $197 million of that recently,” said the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an editorial, but “it’s not enough.” We’ve spent $6 billion on a similar fight in Colombia since 2000, and “the fight at our doorstep is at least as important.”