On War #261: Not Checking Six

By William S. Lind

As the U.S. remains fixated on two Fourth Generation wars half a world a way, in Iraq and Afghanistan, 4GW is knocking at our back door. The death spiral of the Mexican state appears to be accelerating. To quote just one illustrative bit of evidence, the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently reported that

Seven Mexican federal agents looking for an arms cache died early Tuesday in a shootout with gunmen in the northern state of Sinaloa, officials said. The agents came under fire when they went to search a home in Culiacan, the state capital. Four other agents were wounded. At least one gunman was reported killed during the confrontation, which came as a wave of drug-related violence has washed over Mexico.

The fact that seven government agents were killed and four wounded while only one 4GW fighter died suggests the raid was tipped off. The Mexican security forces have been so thoroughly penetrated by criminal gangs of every sort that the government’s hands have been cut off. It may want to reassert the state’s authority, but it has no uncompromised means of doing so.

Here we see a model of 4GW that is likely to be much more common than what we are now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the state has disappeared, despite our frenetic efforts to make its corpse gibber and dance (the al-Maliki and Karzai “governments”). Most 4GW entities, unlike al Qaeda, have no need to overthrow the state. They just need to render it impotent to interfere with their activities (as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon).

This will generally best be accomplished quietly, by taking relevant aspects of the state from within. Those aspects may include the security forces, which usually are not difficult to penetrate; leading politicians, who can be bought, bullied or both; and at least elements of the media. Mexican drug gangs have been effective in killing local political leaders and media figures who have opposed them. Others can be counted on to get the message.

The result is not the disappearance of the state but its hollowing out. To the outside world it remains a state, with all the sovereign rights of a state. Internally, it becomes a Potemkin village, a stage-setting on which dramas like “elections” can be played out while 4GW entities go about real business. Often, that business will include much of the country’s economy, which the state dares not throttle even if it could.

As I have noted previously, operating within a hollowed-out state may benefit many 4GW entities more than replacing the state. A Potemkin state protects 4GW organizations from foreign attack; the U.S. cannot go after drug gangs within Mexico except in a surreptitious manner, because doing so would violate Mexican sovereignty. The penetrated Mexican government will ensure that any “cooperation” with U.S. anti-drug efforts will not go beyond a “check the box” level. Everyone benefits from maintaining the fiction of a state: the 4GW gangs, the Mexican economy, the bank accounts of Mexican politicians and the U.S. government, which can tell the rubes back home we are “fighting the drug war” in what amounts to shadow boxing.

Our continued fixation on just one 4GW threat, that from Islam, in a geographically remote part of the world has left our back door wide open. Like an aviator who doesn’t check six, we have set ourselves up to get hosed. In effect, to borrow from General Patton’s famous metaphor, we have grabbed our own nose and presented our tail to our opponent for a good kicking. Anyone with the misfortune to live on or near our southern border, or have responsibility for security in that area, will attest that it hurts.

All this and much more is the price we are paying for our twin Syracuse Expeditions, the quixotic crusades to force “democracy” (really Brave New World) on Iraq and Afghanistan. America desperately needs leadership that will at least attempt to reconnect with reality, including the fact that the U.S.-Mexican border does not presently exist. Those who insist on keeping their head in the clouds will find their ass on the ground, shot down in flames.

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:

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
1423 Powhatan Street, # 2
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Direct line: 703 837-0483

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