By Anonymous (not verified) on August 19, 2011

The increasing involvement of the United States in Mexico’s drug war is only going to make a bad situation worse.

It will likely lead to more deaths. It will be a drain on our treasury. And it’s unlikely to stem the flow of drugs. This is because the U.S. intervention ignores the root causes of the drug trade and the spreading international character of the cartels.

U.S. involvement began with the “Merida Initiative,” a $1.4 billion aid package signed by President Bush in 2007 to provide training and equipment to Mexican drug enforcement efforts. It coincided with Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s initiation of a military offensive against the drug cartels.

President Obama then expanded the scope of the Merida Initiative in 2009, emphasizing coordination and information sharing, including the establishment of joint command and control centers in Mexico. This has led to the training of thousands of Mexican agents, the transfer of high-tech weaponry, the deployment of unmanned drones within Mexico and now the direct involvement of Drug Enforcement Administration and CIA agents, U.S. military personnel (from the Pentagon’s Northern Command) and private contractors.

Since the launch of Calderon’s military operation, an estimated 35,000 people have been killed. And the death rate has been increasing for each year of the conflict.

Mexico has now surpassed Colombia in kidnappings and has seen a dramatic spike in assassinations of journalists and political figures. Corruption has exploded, as drug money has been poured into politics to subvert the war effort from within. A study of the Mexican Senate’s Commission of Municipal Development has found that six out of every 10 municipal governments in the country are infiltrated by drug dealers. Mexico’s Department of Public Security estimates that 62 percent of police nationwide have also been corrupted by drug money.

Rather than suppress the drug trade, the war has driven it deeper into the social and political fabric of Mexico and has spread it to other countries in Central America.

U.S. society is intimately tied to the Mexican drug trade. Earlier this year, for instance, 34 U.S. citizens and legal residents were convicted of running weapons to cartels from Arizona. According to a 2010 Washington Post report, more than 60,000 U.S.-origin guns have been linked to drug violence in Mexico. Some U.S. banks have been implicated in laundering drug money. And according to Justice Department statistics from 2010, the cartels now operate in 231 U.S. cities, taking in nearly $40 billion in annual sales from within our country, as the consumption of illegal drugs in the United States is increasing.

The Mexican government is losing the drug war. That’s why the Obama administration is now sending U.S. security forces directly into the war zones in Mexico (as never before).

But U.S. intervention won’t make it any more winnable, and will only draw more personnel and resources into a costly and bloody quagmire.

Justin Akers Chacon is a professor of U.S. History and Chicano Studies in San Diego. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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