Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who really understands the USA?

"Poor Mexico, so far from God and so near to the United States!"
Porfirio Díaz

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
To a Louse - Robert Burns

Mexico's war on drugs costs more lives with every passing day. Drug-related killings this year exceed 4,300, according to media reports, almost double the rate of 2007. Swathes of Mexican territory are in the control of drug cartels, rather than the government. The heavy cost of fighting them is also paid in the corrosion of Mexican democracy and its institutions, as emphasised by recent arrests of high-profile police officers allegedly in the pay of the drug barons.(...) In his most dramatic decision, Mr Calderón also sent in Mexico's army to confront the traffickers. This move has had some success, though it could perhaps have been more precisely targeted, but it has stirred up a hornets' nest. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this policy is likely to weaken over time as corruption takes its toll in the military.(...) the role that the US plays in this crisis is clear. As well as being the largest cocaine market, it supplies most of the traffickers' weaponry. Meanwhile, US aid for Mexico's drug efforts focuses excessively on hardware such as helicopters and is not sufficiently directed at supporting the police, the legal system and the judiciary. (...) (President Obama) should acknowledge that reopening negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, as he pledged during his election campaign, would severely undermine legitimate business south of the border. That would bode ill for Mexico - and for the US. (emphasis mine) Financial Times
Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo said he and his countrymen “regret” and “resent” the construction of a security fence on the border between the United States and Mexico and called for more “intelligent” security between the two countries on Monday.

Zedillo also blamed drug violence largely on Americans’ use of illegal drugs(...) (Zedillo) appeared at the panel discussion with the co-chairman of the commission, former U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas R. Pickering.

Pickering noted that 90 percent of the guns seized in drug law enforcement operations in Mexico can be traced back to the United States, a statistic also cited by officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in testimony before the House Foreign Affair Committee’s subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere in February 2008. CNSNews
David Seaton's News Links
Every so often some irate reader who lives in the states asks me how I can know anything about the USA if I no longer live there.

To this I reply that the USA is everywhere, all the time, intruding into people's lives in endless ways all over the world: it is outside the United States where people really understand the USA. It is the Americans who have a totally fictionalized view of themselves.

Don't you think by now that any inhabitant of Baghdad is an expert on Americans, their foibles and their reality, the space between their words and their actions?

But of course this deep and intimate knowledge of the USA is new to Iraqis and most Middle Easterners. Where Americans are really known, where the USA has bent everything and everyone out of shape for nearly 200 years, is south of the border, in Latin America in general and in Mexico, most blatantly, in particular.

Americans are massively addicted to drugs and spend enormous amounts of cash on their habit. The Mexican drug cartels are formed to service that habit and they thus have the money to corrupt even key Mexican government officials (and key Mexican officials have never come cheaply) something which threatens the very existence of the Mexican state.

And the United States not only supplies the drug lords with cash. The United States is where they buy military grade weapons on the open market. This is made possible by a loose interpretation the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which constitutional law professor, president-elect Barack Obama, has declared he has no intention of tightening up.

If, to top all this, the United States revised NAFTA, as the president-elect has promised during the campaign, Mexico might literally become a failed state.

It seems so long ago, that it is hard to recall that once upon a time, when he was running for president in the year 2000, Bush said a number of sensible things that he quickly forgot on being elected. One of the most sensible was defining America's relationship with Mexico as its the most important foreign policy relationship. It was true then and it is true today: what happens in and to Mexico affects Americans, their prosperity and even their physical safety, much more than what happens in and to, say, Israel... Much, much, more.

9-11 and the invasion of Iraq caused Mexico to disappear from America's agenda. However while we are following events far, far away, the rise in the price of corn, the staple food of Mexico's masses, due to ethanol production in the United States, which our president-elect also supports, combined with the corruption flowing from drug money derived from from the bottomless appetites of American addicts, has put the political stability of Mexico in grave danger.

If we add to that the effects of massive layoffs of Mexican workers in the USA due to the recession, with waves of unemployed immigrants returning home empty handed to find corn meal priced out of their reach... combined with stringent border controls and the mass expulsions that so many US politicians are clamoring for... Add to that many armed and horribly violent cartel gunmen with money and automatic weapons.... we are looking at a potential geopolitical disaster far worse than the war in Iraq...

If Mexico collapsed into anarchy, besides having to find space for the entire Mexican middle class, the United States could find itself fighting a real counter-insurgency; a conflict where the southern US border would be little more than a line drawn on a map and with the whole South West under virtual martial law.

Anything even remotely like this scenario would multiply the effects of the deep recession/depression we are entering beyond imagining.
All the elements are in place for a disaster and nobody seems to care very much.

Who knows who?

Who could know America and the Americans, who they are, what really motivates them and why they do the things they do more truly than Mexico and the Mexicans? It is the Americans themselves that don't know America and what it is. DS


Anonymous said...

Absolutely right. Whats more, I would wager that a solid majority citizens of the U.S. don't know that Mexico is actually IN North America. To these people, Mexico is just that old abandoned shack out back where we keep our mops and buckets...along with the people who use them.
As a U.S. citizen living in Buenos Aires, some of same said folks often ask me things like, "...Oh, is that in Mexico or Brazil?". I should mention that response can follow my naming either the city or the country. Don't even get me started on the national ignorance that another whole continent exists beyond the Mexican neighbors. Apparently everything south(or east, west or north for that matter)of the border is pretty much considered irrelevant and/or at fault for "America's decline". Surely those folks in the mirror are not to blame...for anything.

Vil Mahoubey said...

Hey, David - not a very serious comment - bottle of wine and little sleep is my excuse.

Anonymous I will not be. Deciphering my identity won't stress your neurons.

Anyway, David, amigo mio,I just stumbled upon your blog.Good stuff. Well chosen, appropriate quotes from Robbie Burns to Aristotle. Intelligent, well-written and eclectically knowlegable commentary. I usually agree with you much more often than I disagree, and humbly admit that my disagreements may be more due to my lack of knowledge than your not being on, or a least in the vicinity, of the mark.

I agree that after the mass orgasm cum "habemus papa" we are in for a mass post-coital depression. I have been accused of focussing on the half-emptiness of the glass, too. What colour was that smoke that gave us Barack Hussein Obama anyways? Obama will pontify,but will all the edicts be able to bring back the American dream of heaven on earth? Is he the saviour or "IS BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA THE ANTI CHRIST? read on... Posted in the Oklahoma Forum "
Dog bless Amerika and the lucky few that will get "raptured".

As for "Who really understands the USA?" Who really understands anything? But, that given aside,I agree that those of us that are on the other side of the looking glass may have a clearer view of the queen's madness.

Here,in eh-saying land,we have our own Porfirio Diaz type quotes from Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who, besides saying things like "the government has no business in the nations bedrooms" and being despised by Nixon for being some kind of commie liberal, said , to paraphrase, Canada is a mouse sleeping with an elephant, and when the US sneezes we catch cold. Unfortunately, we are all going to be sat upon by the elephant in the room(or have I misunderstood the metaphor and we are all too short to copulate with the elephant of our perverse fantasies???)and probably catch the mother of all colds.
Un abrazo muy fuerte.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Hey Bill my neurons took a while to kick in. Kept in touch.