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Invading Mexico

I’m with Fabius Maximus on this one, Stratfor contemplating a major military intervention in Mexico is akin to lunacy:

Two of the many benefits of subscribing to Stratfor are (1) its reporting on geopolitical trends not yet visible to the mainstream media, and (2) it provides a window into the thinking of America’s elites (Stratfor’s customers, senior business and government officials with whom it must stay in synch).

We get both in a new report:  “High Stakes South of the Border.”  This continues their excellent reporting during the past few years on the disintegration of Mexico’s polity – another “decline of the state” in progress.  Just as interesting, Stratfor’s conclusion shows its (and our) assumption of America’s unlimited power and resources.

“U.S. forces are largely preoccupied in Iraq and Afghanistan. While it would take a great deal to tip the scale toward a U.S. military intervention in Mexico, we may now be at a point where that has to be considered given what is at stake.

The last time the United States meaningfully asserted control over a deteriorating situation in Mexico was in the early 20th century during the Mexican Revolution, when the United States occupied Veracruz for six months to protect U.S. business interests. If violence on the border started hurting the bottom line, the cost of not doing anything would start to approach the cost of military action. The potential for an escalation of violence between the cartels and the government spiraling out of control could tip that balance.

It is unclear what the threshold for U.S. action in Mexico would be. But the stakes are high. If the United States sees trade flows threatened, and the security situation deteriorating, Washington might see fit to intervene. And just because it hasn’t done so in a century doesn’t mean it will not choose to do so in the future.”

Belief that we could stabilize Mexico is amazing, on several levels.  Mexico’s population is over one hundred million people, roughly one-third the size of ours.  Their long-standing hostility to us, with considerable historical basis, would make intervention potentially explosive.  But most of all, this displays no awareness of how the world has changed.

Amazing ain’t the word. Stratfor’s analysis here caters to the bipartisan Washinton elite’s view that absolutely nothing should be done to put pressure on Mexico to reform but instead that the United States ( or rather, the American middle-class and below) should shoulder all of the spillover costs of poor governance by the Mexican state. Mexico has serious social, political and economic problems but they are fixable, at this stage but most of them relate to the corruption and parasitic culture of the Mexican elite itself. Invading Mexico is a proposal that is wrong on so many levels for American national interests that I hardly know where to begin.

Tighten the “safety valves” on which Mexico’s elite rely – the borders and remittances – and then diplomatically press for improvement in the economic prospects of Mexico’s bottom third of the population. Mexico is not a poor country, it’s a middle income nation where the state is traditionally used to enrich a loose political oligarchy.

Hat tip to Fester via Twitter.

20 Responses to “Invading Mexico”

  1. Smitten Eagle Says:

    I’m with Fabius and you on this.

    An invasion would be idiotic.  Imagine the 4GW tactics that could be employed against us–waves of "undocumented workers", protests in the streets, strikes, etc., the second a boot crosses south of the border.  These are tactics the US would be extremely weak at defeating.

    Not to mention the whole, uh, occupation thing…

  2. Brad Says:

    Another topic for speculation is what what would the US do if Mexico becomes a failed state with an imploding infrastructure in critical areas leading to a significant increase in cross boarder migration, seeking not just jobs but safety and life’s necessities. 

  3. historyguy99 Says:

    We had our chance to keep the senorita in 1846…then we tried to catch one bandito in 1916 and sputtered to the end of our supply chain empty handed. Now any thought of such ventures are in the realm of fantasy and stupidity. 

    As to Mexico becoming a failed state with an increase in border crossings…simple answer, dig in and close the border on our side, do what we can to assist those Mexicans who want a functioning state short of invading and triggering an insurgency supported by most of Latin America.

    All in all, an example of really stupid tunnel vision by Strafor

  4. Fabius Maximus Says:

    Are we looking through the wrong end of the telescope?  Us moving against the cartels in Mexico seems impractical.  Can the cartels move into the US?  Every business loves new markets.  Their family and business networks already penetrate deep into America. 
    If so, the unknown is how well we can resist their efforts.  The cartels have prospered in a tough and violent jungle.  Will they find our cities a pleasant garden — or a walled fortress?

  5. Fabius Maximus Says:

    A valuable update from Stratfor:.
    Mexico: Examining Cartel War Violence Through a Protective Intelligence Lens“, Stratfor  (14 May 2008)

  6. The Glittering Eye » Blog Archive » The Hollowing Out of Mexico Says:

    […] pair of related items caught my eye this morning. In the first, brought to my attention by Zenpundit Mark Safranski, Fabius Maximus notes that, emboldened by the ease with which we have pacified Iraq, Stratfor […]

  7. Norfolk Says:

    Is it any wonder that an invasion of Iraq could have been so eagerly and casually contemplated and then executed?  The sheer unreality of a proposal to invade Mexico so as to restore it to order indicates an utter lack of reality that seems to reign in many influential circles of strategic thought.  Matters of war are best not left to those who do not know how to get their own two hands bloody.

  8. zen Says:

    Now that’s what I call a consensus!
    Stratfor’s problem is that it is becoming isolated/insular. Something this dumb should have been challenged internally before it ever reached publication. They are still good at forseeing trouble spots but their policy analytics need greater intellectual diversity.

  9. Lexington Green Says:

    Nagl’s proposed Training Command should be set up. We shouild work with Mexico to train their police and military. Hispanophone Americans (we have lots of those, unlike, say, Pashto speakers) could unobtrusively assist and observe ops in Mexico. It would another real-time COIN training ground for the US military. It would a way togather intel and have eaely warning of threats to the USA.

    We should be “in” Mexico, but quietly, quietly.

    Then if God forbid we ever did have to do something overt, we would have good intel.

    We need to wind down the war on drugs. It is a huge strategic weakness.

  10. Seerov Says:

    "it provides a window into the thinking of America’s elites"

    It certainly does. Its no secret that the American economic elite wish to have open borders.  In the podcast that I’m providing a link for [1], Friedman warns us that "we better not piss off the Mexicans."  He also made it clear that "there is no immigration debate."  In this talk he claims that Mexico and Turkey are going to be world powers in 30 years.  Because of this, the US and Europe had better open their borders or pay the consequences for not doing so.  Here’s the link to the Friedman talk.  The readers of this blog-who have an interest in futurism-will probably enjoy this series of talks.


  11. Seerov Says:

    "Imagine the 4GW tactics that could be employed against us–waves of "undocumented workers", protests in the streets, strikes, etc., the second a boot crosses south of the border."

    Imagine 5GW warfare tactics in which "activist" groups like La Raza (The Race) intimate opponents of open borders with accusations of "racism" and "xenophobia."  Lately, groups like LA Raza (The Race) have been lobbying for "hate-speech" laws as well.  The desire for "hate-speech" laws should be viewed as a 5GW warfare tactic with the purpose of legally shutting down the ability of anti-open border groups to organize.  If it becomes illegal to point out the negative aspects of open borders, then this will make anti-open groups into De facto criminal organizations. 

    There also exists the possibility of the Mexican mafia carrying out hits on anti-open border activists.  People like Jim Gilchrist[1] of the "Minutemen" group may find themselves the target of assassinations.  This is a common tactic in Latin America used against opposition groups.  We should also expect leftists to excuse or justify these assassinations as the result of an "oppressive system." 

    The Mexican mafia or street gangs like MS-13 have the potential to evolve into political organizations in the future.  We seen this with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the former Yugoslavia.  Groups like La Raza (The Race) will act as the "peaceful" front group while MS-13 will be the muscle.  Groups like the IRA or Hezbollah had/have socio-political wings which win the support of the people by supplying social welfare programs.  We can expect Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia to support this neo-Marxist insurgency in the South West United States similar to how Iran supports Hezbollah.  

    I hope I’m wrong; but in 30 years we may unfortunately have to use our COIN skills within the United States.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Gilchrist

  12. Smitten Eagle Says:


    I’m not sure I necessarely buy into the 5GW frameworks yet.  Trying to nail 4GW Jell-O to the wall is hard enough.  5GW is like nailing said Jell-O while it’s still liquid.

    But your point is well taken.  There are myriad gaps in our legal, political, and physical systems the enemies of America could exploit the second America decides to enforce its will south of the border.  Better to seal the Gaps first.

  13. Jim Bennett Says:

    Given massive disorder in Mexico, the US would have to do something. Although a major armed presence of US troops would be problematic on many levels, it mght make sense to indirectly support a regional or separatist government for the northern tier of Mexican states. There is a separatist history in that area (Republic of the Rio Grande) and far stronger cross-border ties than exist in central or southern Mexico. The GDP gap between Mexico as a whole and the USA is the largest gap on any first world border. Northern Mexico as an independent state would have a substantially higher GDP and thus lower the gap; it would be more likely to establish an effective administration, and would serve as a buffer state against places like Chiapas that might be exporting disorder for a long time to come.

  14. Dan tdaxp Says:

    (Cross-posted on Chicago Boyz and ZenPundit)

    I began a reply, but as I wrote it I realized I have no idea what Smitten Eagle is talking about.  Who is he criticizing?  What text, what person?  Or is he merely complaining he doesn’t know enough about it to criticize it?  

    If he is criticizing some person or text, should say what it is and give his reasons.  If he is criticizing his own lack of understanding, he should learn more!

  15. Smitten Eagle Says:

    (Crossposted at Zenpundit and ChicagoBoyz)
    Dan tdaxp-.
    I was criticizing Seerov’s previous post..
    I am actually an advocate of the 4GW school, although I have some complaints:
    .1)  I think the xGW framework is over dialectal.
    2)  I think the entire xGW framework is a bit too deterministic, which leads into…
    3)  A certain intellectual hubris on the part of many 4GW theorists (this is self-evident)..
    At the same time, I think the xGW frameworks through 4GW are reasonably correct, to include the 4GW premises of the decline of the state and the state’s consequent loss of the monopoly of force.  The 1GW-3GW frameworks are even more reliable in terms of their theoretical consistency with reality.  4GW is especially useful to describe how 3GW maneuver forces lose against poorly-equipped insurgencies and other militias..
    As far as 5GW goes, I don’t think there is even a solid framework to rely on.  Some have referred to 5GW as tactically being about changing the enemie’s Observation in the OODA loop to make him think he’s not even in conflict with the enemy.  For me, this is too close to the political end of the Policy-War continuum of violence to be considered warfare..
    To build on this, Seerov, in the post on Zen’s site that I comment on, says that pro-illegal immigration organizations, and thir actions with regard to the law (attempts to classify anti-illegal immigration forces as "xenophobic" and "racist") should be viewed as 5GW.  Why is this?  My complaints with this contention are that such strategies and tactics are too strongly in the realm of Policy–so much so that there really isn’t a violent component.  How can this be classified as a different Generation of War?  My second complaint is the mere existence of such pro-illegal immigration groups as La Raza are testament to being 4GW, as such groups are indicative of the decline of the state.  My final complaint is that another aspect of 4GW is fighting on the Moral level of war in order to defeat Mental and Physical levels, and La Raza’s actions at this are indicative of this Moral fight..
    Others have spoken about the role of the Super Empowered Individual (SEI) as a major actor in 5GW.  I’m afraid that lone gunmen, in my conception of warfare, do not qualify as "organized violence."  For violence to be "organized," it requires an Organization.  An Organization of One is not an organization.  I think there has to be more to organized violence than a single pissed-off dude with lots of cunning..
    Finally, for 5GW to actually exist, it needs to have a strong track record of convincingly beating 4GW fighting forces.  I’m afraid there really hasn’t been any evidence to support this.  (Unless, of course, my denial of 5GW is evidence of it’s success…but if that’s the case, I think we’re getting a bit too close to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to speak anything authoritatively about 5GW, or any xGW for that matter.).
    I don’t qualify a Barnett-esque SysAdmin as a 5GW force–such a force would probably be a 4GW force, as it seems to me to be fighting in the same moral-mental-physical plane of the 4GW forces it opposes.  Also, such a SysAdmin force would not be placing strength against 4GW weakness the way 3GW put strength of Maneuver against weakness of Massed Firepower of 2GW weakness.  (It seems to me that for a new GW to exist, there must be an aspect of strength-against-weakness against the previous GW)  A SysAdmin force places its 4GW strengths (mainly in the moral level) against enemy 4GW strength (again, in the moral level).  What level does a 5GW force fight?  Legal?  In Freud’s Subconscious?  Where?.
    Nor am I really convinced that a SysAdmin, as Barnett concieves it, could even exist, because it does not deal with the root cause of the 4GW violence:  the entropy of the state system.  Sure, it might slow the entropy of a given state, but it’s mere existence only saps the legitimacy of the foreign state it’s trying to help.  (Lind calls this the Reverse Midas Touch).  For a SysAdmin to work, I think it would have to be home-grown–but then again, we have a word for that:  A Militia.  And there is significant scholarship on the potential utility of militia forces in 4GW fights..
    In short, 4GW is tough to deal with, but workable, mainly as a conceptual frame to describe the weakness of Maneuverist 3GW forces against some types of insurgencies, under the rubric of the decline of the state. .
    5GW so far is formless and has too fungible of a definition for me to take it seriously, not to mention that 5GW doesn’t seem to deal with the decline & demise of the state.  Nor am I convinced that nonviolent political questions qualify as ANY xGW.  Nor am I convinced that an SEI qualifies as ANY sort of organized violence.  .
    I’m not even convinced there even HAS to be a 5GW.  Just because there was a 1-4GW doesn’t mean we must at some point progress to 5GW.  For all I know, some great technology or political order will be invented tomorrow that will restore legitimacy to the state, and perhaps then we will be in a sort military-political order where 3GW principles better predict the outcome of political-military struggles..
    That is why nailing 4GW Jell-O is difficult, and nailing 5GW Jell-O to a wall is just like nailing any other sugary liquid to the wall.

  16. Arherring Says:

    Smitten Eagle,

    Sorry but I have to make some distinctions here that I think are confusing the issue.

    1) There is a difference between Lind’s Generations of Modern Warfare and XGW (as discussed at Dreaming 5GW). XGW is derived from GMW but doesn’t include the concept of the timeline or social/industrial/political development defining a particular generation of warfare. As such it has nothing to do with any particular era or the rise and decline of the state. Instead it focuses on the principles and methods of the different generations. Honestly, the term ‘generation’ in XGW should be replaced.

    2) Because XGW deals in principles and methods it can be applied to any type of conflict including economic and political, not just war. For that matter 5GW as we envision it at D5GW could be used in a proactive manner to avert conflict. On that note the term ‘warfare’ should probably be replaced. XGW has become that much of a different concept.

    I agree with you that and organization of one is not an oranization and that SEIs shouldn’t be what defines 5GW or any level of XGW. 5GW is a potential doctrine for an SEI to practice but that is as far as it goes. There are many options for a (Friedman defined) super-empowered individual or a Super-Empowered Angry Man to follow. I’d also like to point out that we are dealing with a theory of 5GW. We aren’t saying that 5GW exists in any form other than the proto-5GWish and even then in isolated aspects.

  17. Dan tdaxp Says:

    Smitten Eagle’s reply is well written and well considered.  I have featured it in my most recent post on 5GW.  [1]

    "xGW is composed of six so-called “generations,” each of which has existed back into the distant path, and all of which will likely exist into the distant future. The term “generation” is unfortunate, and comes from William Lind’s older “generations of war” framework, which is a form of Hegelian dialecticalism that is to the analysis of war what Lamarckianism is to the analysis of natural selection. xGW has recently been the topic of conversation in the blogosphere."

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/05/21/5gw-xgw-around-the-blogosphere.htmla

  18. zen Says:

    In fairness to Lind, 1GW and 2GW are definitely recognizable as the product of particular historical eras. Geoffrey Parker’s thesis on the military revolution of early modern Europe ( Hey Gustavus Adolphus, get those musketeers in a line !) is nothing but the origin of 1GW.
    3GW is far more timeless, as is 4GW.

  19. Arherring Says:

    I’m not arguing that Lind’s Generations of Modern Warfare is wrong. Looking at it as a framework for state on state / trinitarian warfare it is very insightful and relevant. I’m saying that XGW and GMW are not the same thing. The do share some of the same characteristics and teminology because XGW grew from GMW, but they are frameworks that address different aspects of conflict. To my thinking, GMW is a description of the evolution of how states prosecute wars from a social/economic/technological standpoint and XGW describes an evolution of doctrine.

  20. Dave Says:

    Don’t you have enough problems to deal with within U.S. territory already?

    The discussion only leads to nothing, maybe funny commentaries.

    Invading Mexico for what ever reason you can think of would be the end of the U.S. no need of a Phd to know that, the absolute end. Modern warfare or whatever, very unlikely.

    For starters, very expensive, and there is about 50 billion dollars or more of U.S. investment in Mexico, you are going to ruin it.

    You would have to evacuate every American from Mexico first, like half a million, and deal with the 56 million Mexicans legal and illegal in the U.S. with what? concentration camps? like in WW2 when you put Japanese in concentration camps, but, at least its purpose won’t be extermination, hopefully, that is if they do not revolt or sue the U.S.

    Corona would not be sent to the U.S. anymore.

    I am not sure, you migt want to rename the burrito, although the burrito is more of an american invention, nobody eats burritos in Mexico, only in the north. Freedom wrap? Freedom nachos?

    I am not sure where to quote this, but, 30% of the U.S. military is composed of Latinos, many are Mexican, I am not sure but, if mom in Mexico says, come back to fight for your land, guess what is gonna happen? they are likely to not go to Canada, likely to come back home, with all that combat experience in Iraq and Afganistan and use it.

    Alliances with the Russians and Venezuelans would be immediate, we are gonna need every rocket propelled antitank weapon they can give, plus Aks, ammo, and everything we would have to throw at your Abrams tanks and whatever piece of target practice you can drive over the border.

    By the way, there is ample information on where to hit an Abrams tank and devastate it, everything is on google.

    Narcos and Federal and local government would probably unite, and the narcos  are stocked in colt AR-15s Aks and ammo, guns that somehow dubbed for military use are being sold to them, by the U.S. and Russia, they will love using those guns, plus all the Colt 38 supers and american made grenades.

    You think the Mexican Army is not powerful enough? Mexican army is trained by the U.S. military, and they cannot deal with the Narcos, you think the American Army will be able to fare better? maybe the SEALS will be able to deal with them, but why waste those fine warriors on those pieces of shit, I am sure after the U.S. invasion, the relationship between narcos and mexican government will be pretty close and then we will have a civil war in Mexico, again.

    You are going to bomb, destroy and take out the Navy, Airforce and Army that in a great percentage  purchase all the weapons and equipment from the U.S.? that is like killing a customer.

    The world would be pissed, they might help out the poor Mexicans, or not, I am sure the narcos will visit every embassy along with Alqaeda, what do we have to lose right?

    I probably did not enumaerate all the concecuences of a war with Mexico, but the premise is stupid, that is all there is to it.

    If you are educated people, why do you use Wikipedia? I would use the money for invading Mexico to fund education programs for Americans, you need it.

    and by the way, travel to Mexico one day, go to Cancun, and then think about invading Mexico again.

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