On War #268: Evidence

By William S. Lind
July 23, 2008

Two recent news stories added important evidence to issues raised in On War columns.  The first concerns a Fourth Generation war taking place on America’s doorstep, that between the Mexican state and drug gangs.  The July 14 Financial Times, one of the world’s best newspapers, reported that the head of Mexico’s intelligence agency

Told a small group of foreign media recently: “Drug traffickers have become the principal threat because they are trying to take over the power of the state.”

Mr. Valdes said the gangs…had co-opted many members of local police forces, the judiciary, and government entities….

Those efforts, he said, could now also be targeting federal institutions such as Congress itself.  “Congress is not exempt…we do not rule out the possibility that drug money is involved in the campaigns of some legislators,” Mr. Valdes said.

The news here is not the “possibility” that some Mexican legislators are on drug traffickers’ payrolls.  The news is that a prominent Mexican official, one whose position gives him a good look at what is going on, was willing to go public about the threat to the state itself.  The fact that he took that risk suggests the cancer is far advanced.  For intelligence officers, going public is usually an act of desperation.

From the perspective of 4GW theory, it is beginning to look as if the drug traffickers/Hezbollah model may be more sophisticated and more successful than the al Qaeda model.  Al Qaeda seemingly is on the ropes in Iraq, not because of the “surge” but because of its own blunders.  To at least some extent those blunders proceed from its strategy, which faces the state with a life-or-death struggle.  In contrast, all Hezbollah and the Mexican drug gangs demand is a deal with the state: we’ll leave you alone if you leave us alone.  The state’s real sovereignty bleeds away, but the structures remain, allowing the politicians to do what they want, i.e. continue to line their own pockets.

The Lebanese state recently cut a deal with Hezbollah along exactly these lines, and the Mexican state will have to do the same at some point.  The Financial Times reports that under the Merida Initiative, the U.S. will give Mexico $400 million this year for counter-narcotics operations, but the Mexican state is already too deeply suborned to use such aid effectively.  Mexican politicians, cops, and military officers will happily accept the U.S. money with their right hands while their left hands take the drug gangs’ payoffs.  If the Mexican state wants to restore order, it will have to offer the gangs a “live and let live” deal.

The other story moves from tragedy to farce.  It seems Iraq’s pretend Prime Minister, Mr. al-Maliki, gave an interview to Der Spiegel in which he said Obama’s timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq is about the right one.  Not surprisingly, the Bush White House went ballistic.  I suspect Iraqi officials had not heard the f-word used so many times in one sentence since they last had to pass a roadblock manned by Marine lance corporals.

Here the Bush administration is hoist on its own petard.  On the one hand, it wants “democracy” in Iraq.  On the other hand, it wants to keep U.S. troops there indefinitely, using Iraq as a base from which the U.S. can dominate the region.  But the Iraqi people want the American troops to go home, so “democracy” leads to an American withdrawal at Iraq’s demand.  Squaring that circle would take a Bismarck, and Miss Rice isn’t even a Holstein.

Poor Mr. al-Maliki, whose only goal is survival, is left twisting in the wind, an awkward position for a marionette.  He remains dependent upon American support, without which he would be either an exile or dead in 48 hours.  But he must also grasp at such shreds of legitimacy as he can, which requires setting a date by which the Americans will leave.  The two requirements contradict each other fatally.  Meanwhile, Muqtada al-Sadr, whose demand for an American withdrawal is unambiguous, follows Iraq’s “government” like Captain Hook’s crocodile.  I suspect that if he survives, he will in time enjoy his dinner.

One man could cut the knot and free both Iraq and America from its entanglements.  Were Ayatollah Sistani to say what Mr. Maliki said, that Obama’s timetable for withdrawal is about right, no one could gainsay him.  The Shiite Iraqi government dare not contradict him, nor could George W. Bush (or John McCain) without risking all-out war between American troops in Iraq and the Shiites.  For the sake of both countries, let’s hope he is listening.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact (no e-mail available):

Mr. William S. Lind

Free Congress Foundation
1423 Powhatan Street, # 2
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Direct line: 703 837-0483

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed in Uncategorized | 7 responses so far

7 Responses to “On War #268: Evidence”

  1. senor tomason 23 Jul 2008 at 7:43 pm 1

    “Poor Mr. al-Maliki, whose only goal is survival, is left twisting in the wind, an awkward position for a marionette. He remains dependent upon American support, without which he would be either an exile or dead in 48 hours.”

    Exactly the same thing can be said about Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan.

  2. […] William Lind sums up the situation: […]

  3. Mycophagiston 24 Jul 2008 at 5:04 pm 3

    The Mexicans are paying the price for paying their police less than they pay day labororers. And once someone is on the take, it’s much harder to get them off. Believe it or not, but that’s the root of this present problem.

    No one cared when they would take bribes for parking tickets or minor infractions. Indeed, this was expected. But now the drug cartels are challenging the State itself, and this benign neglect is paying “rich” dividends.

    Dave

  4. Maxon 25 Jul 2008 at 10:37 am 4

    “now the drug cartels are challenging the State itself, and this benign neglect is paying “rich” dividends.”

    Clever use of the pun.

    I can’t claim to understand much about the southern frontier.
    It sounds increasingly messy.

    At one time I beleived that through NAFTA, Mexico promised an
    abundant cheap labour source for US globalised corporate interests to compete in manufacturing.

    My impression at that time was, and still is, that to do ANYTHING remotely high tech, you need to air condition the crap out of the plants, and energy costs offset the labour advantages. Moreover, it’s a poorly trained and motivated labour pool.

    However on the North, you have abundant OIL, Hydro Electric
    resourches, and Fresh WATER, Which will soon be the NEW OIL.

    It’s may only be a matter of time IMFO, before the USA puts the moves on Canada, in terms of overt takeover.

    If not, the Chinese are populating that country, with massive
    influx of immigtration and may eventually dominate scocially
    and politicaly.

    M

  5. […] On War #268: Evidence […]

  6. Dr_Vomacton 28 Jul 2008 at 1:02 pm 6

    I wonder when—or whether—the Mexican government will get to the point where they tell the U.S. to stuff its drug policy, and declare that the drug cartels are simply legitimate businesses. It would certainly solve a lot of problems for them. Indeed, it might raise the prestige of the Mexican state in the eyes of the people, thereby strengthening its legitimacy. And that would actually benefit our interests.
    Unfortunately, they would lose money by doing this. As Mr. Lind points out, all too many Mexican government officials are in the enviable position of simply taking money from both sides; they’re not forced to make a choice, as is the usual practice when one takes a bribe. All we ask in return for our money is that the recipients should pretend to do their jobs. This makes us what is commonly called “suckers”.
    I suppose we are left with the slim hope that either a Mexican government with a backbone will spring into existence, or that the U.S. Congress will have a logic seizure, and end the whole “drug interdiction” program. And that is slim hope indeed.

  7. Mycophagiston 30 Jul 2008 at 3:24 pm 7

    Max wrote:
    “My impression at that time was, and still is, that to do ANYTHING remotely high tech, you need to air condition the crap out of the plants, and energy costs offset the labour advantages. Moreover, it’s a poorly trained and motivated labour pool.”

    I don’t think so on either of these counts. While certain processes must take place in controlled circumstances, not every modern technique needs such conditions. Just ask those who work in our Southern States.

    This is plain and simple a case of Third World countries whose elites have never wanted to pay for their countries security. They have their own private guards and bodyguards, and screw the public – Why should they pay for living wages for the “public” police or armed forces?

    If these military and paramilitary forces have a license steal from the public? Who cares? They wont harrass someone in a limo.

    Well, now we are talking about BIG BUCK$. The market rivals any normal business. The profits are in the billions. The cost of the product is insignifigant compared to “marketing costs.” The State is interfering with this unprecedented profit – And thus the war between the entitites.

    And if ever Mr. Lind has talked about entitites, neither under the control of the State, nor seeking to become the State – We are now able to have a first hand look. :)

    Dave