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More Thoughts on Mexico

From John Robb:

JOURNAL: Mexico’s Mercado of Violence Heats Up

Open source warfare often combines market-based functions to accelerate its innovation rates and expand its operations beyond the primary players.  These markets, or bazaars (as I called them) are very efficient.  For example: the price of violence plummets as the number of entrants increases and the capacity for violence improves as the market’s participants specialize and hone their skills.  

Usually, the military/law enforcement response to the surge in the sophistication and quantity of violence is to assume some outside source of training or support rather than something that is the natural byproduct of rapid marketplace development.  

So, it’s no surprise with the growing availability of the street/prison gangs (Barrio Azteca and the Artistic Assassins) as sources of cheap, violent labor the marketplace is heating up. Note the excellent quotes below from a WaPo article on the growth of the market for contract killings

From Joseph Fouche at The Committee of Public Safety:

Containing Mexico

….Mexico, showing more concern for its sovereignty than their northern neighbor, has launched a brave if thus far futile attempt to win control of its territory from large and powerful narco-traffickers. Large parts of Mexico are in disorder and large parts of Mexico threaten to descend into chaos. The Mexican Army has been brought in to take over from Mexico’s corrupt local and federal police. The well-armed and well-equippednarcotraficantes have counterattacked against the police and even the Mexican Army. The government is riddled with gang informants and corrupt officials. An already uninspiring government has pulled off the unique trick of becoming even more uninspiring.

In the long run, I believe the Mexican state will win. Colombia was in a similar pickle ten years ago but eventually found enough institutional resilience to fight back and win control of most of its territory. But the road back is long and, in the meantime, Mexico’s troubles will inevitably leak north, involving and corrupting American law enforcement even more than it already is, drawing entrepreneurs on both sides of the border to profit from America and Mexico’s shared misery, and applying negative pressures on Mexican residents in the United States to cooperate with the narcotraficantes¿O plata o plomo? (silver or lead?) the Colombian drug gangs used to ask their victims. Profit or death, a choice will be put to many Mexican Americans in the years ahead, or as Mexico’s own Porfirio Diaz put it, ¿Pan o palo? (bread or a beating?). Illegal immigration, perhaps deliberately induced by Mexican drug gangs in an ironic echo of the strategy of  Mexico’s incumbent elites, will destabilize American local governments and drain their resources. Violence in Mexican communities in America will increase and inevitably spill over to non-Mexicans. Political correctness and diplomatic niceties will paralyze American responses.

The historical significance of the War in Iraq will be revealed: COIN on American streets. Containment, if it can be described as such, will occur house by house, block by block, city by city, state by state. The traditional American response to crisis, the inspired muddle, will produce more corruption of American institutions and society, already weakened by the last round of containment….

6 Responses to “More Thoughts on Mexico”

  1. Ed Beakley Says:

     I’m currious… is this fourth generation warfare? Did Von Clausewitz cover adequately? Exactly what kind of thing (war, warfare, insurgency, crime, hearts and minds…) is this…what?  Where’s Bill Lind?

    Sorry, guess I’m in an odd mood.  Joseph Fouche’s points were right on.

    All should be following LASD Lt. John Sullivan’s long running efforts at GroupIntel: http://network.groupintel.com/

  2. MM Says:

    Remember – it is always about the money.-The money coming into Mexico from America for our drug habit is in the tens of $billions.  It is cheap agricultural products and huge profit margins.  The gangs are careful to keep the fighting on the Mexican side of the border and in the far north of the country – away from the heartland.  The gangs do not threaten the bulk of Mexico, and at most will result in a few politicians, like the president, being replaced now and then.  Their business is exporting high value goods to America, not politics.-Since, the US cannot deal with it drug problems internally, will not legalize them to undermine the price model, and cannot invade Mexico (or it will create new Pancho Villa heros of the drug soldiers); the most likely outcome will be a status quo and some manageable level of gang violence on the border that will keep the news shows going.-The money has to be laundered through Mexican institutions and banks and will be invested, ultimately, in Mexico and outside the US.  The 10’s of $billions has to go somewhere.  This is "real money" not a few million you can wash through a few casinos or a corrupt banker or two.-It’s just business.  The whole military gangster show with a few US politicians trying to get Mexico to deal with our own problems and to keep it on their side of the fence is entertaining, but not about changing anything.

  3. Rose Says:

    Stratfor published on Mexico today.


  4. MM Says:

    Thanks Rose for the link.  Stratfor does a good job reporting Mexico and are finally dropping some of their geopolitical chess game spin on everything and talking about the money.–                                                                                                                                                    For another good view read the LA Times series "The Heroin Road": http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/14/local/la-me-blacktar14-2010feb14  (If they do not win a reporting prize for this series the game is fixed.)–                                                                                                                                                             The most interesting question is exactly where is this drug money is going.  In the 90’s when the Russians were looting the former USSR and the Russian Mafia was exploding they were taking Money to Italy and running it around Europe and buying apartment in Manhattan.  They were also setting up their own banks in Russia at the same time.  Where is the Mexican money going?–                                                                                                                                                                     I still can’t for the life of me figure out what the money play is in Afghanistan.  I get the oil in Iraq and US foothold there to keep an eye on it and prop up the Saudis and the Emirates et. al.  But Afghanistan and what the payback there could be still eludes me.  Geopolitics is money politics at its core.

  5. Eric Walthall Says:

    Why were efforts in Columbia successful?  Can they be duplicated in Mexico?

    I’m working a thesis paper for a masters degree on what I feel is the only way Mexico will win.  Stopping the Money from the U.S.  I don’t know enough about Columbia, but am using the Greek Civil War (post WWII) as my historical example.  An insurgency/guerrilla force, completely reliant on external financial support from its north was defeated when it lost its source of finance. 

    The U.S. needs to make a decision on fighting the War on Drugs, either fight it for real, or legalize drugs.  Somehow stop the money from flowing south of the border, and the DTOs will die off.

    If we (U.S. and Mexico) continue to fight this as we have, I believe we will be fighting a COIN fight within our own borders in the coming years.

  6. zen Says:

    hmmm….my grasp of the Greek civil war historiography is…. weak.

    My recollection, is that the Greek Communists had the strong state sponsorship of Tito but not of Stalin – who was less enthusiastic about pressing the West in Greece and expanding the area of Tito’s autonomous influence over balkan Communists – and that their cause was caught up in rapidly deteriorating intra-Communist Soviet-Yugoslav relations and the purge atmosphere Stalin was revving up in his new Eastern European satellites.
    By contrast, FARC made the transition from dependence upon East bloc-Cuban patronage to self-sustaining financial independence from narcotics trafficking, kidnapping and other illicit activities until they were mauled by the paramilitaries and Colombian Army. Now FARC is in a much reduced state and is apparently heavily dependent upon state sponsorship again for funding, weapons and training – this time from Chavez’s Venezuela ( and probably Cuba/Nicaragua).
    On Mexico, loyalist paramilitaries might help their Army beat back the cartels because tactically you can just go slaughter without regard to rules, just as the cartels and Zetas do . Cutting off money flows is not going to happen – neither drug demand nor the Feds suddenly cleaning up all the tens (hundreds?) of billions of of dollars of dirty money surging through the Western banking system that they have turned a blind eye to for at least since Russia was looted.  Taking that black globalization money out of the system undercuts the policy of central banks shoring up banks by shoveling money into them.
    Frankly, we’d invade Mexico before we’d take the steps required to purge our financial sector of corruption

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