The lesson of the past few years: Watch out for things that can go massively wrong. What could go massively wrong in 2011? Let's start next door, with Mexico. Mexico drug war a nightmare scenario - CNN
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I put the quote above, one that I have taken at random from CNN, to avoid being accused of setting up a straw man -- the idea that no one in the USA is worried about the Mexican drug war. Plenty of people are very worried, and for all the right reasons. All I want to do here is add some more reasons of my own to be worried.
Many people fear, and they have good reason to do so, that Mexico may be in danger of becoming a "failed state", or may already be one to some extent. I am not that optimistic, I think that the real danger may be that the United States of America is in danger of becoming a "failed state" or may already be one to some extent and that Mexico's dilemma is in great part only a symptom of America's own dilemma.
This is really not all that complicated:
What is happening in Mexico is because of unsolved problems in the USA.
Americans consume 60 percent of the world's illegal drugs. Quaker.org
Ye Quakers really hath got this one all figured out:
Drugs are the ultimate consumer product for people who want to feel good now without benefit of hard work, social interaction, or making a productive contribution to society. Drug dealers are living out the rags-to-riches American dream as private entrepreneurs desperately trying to become upwardly mobile. That is why we could not win the war on drugs. We are the enemy, and we cannot face that fact. So we launched a half-hearted, half-baked war against a menace that only mirrors ourselves. Quaker.org
So it turns out that the Americans have an insatiable appetite for drugs -- unmatched in all the world -- seemingly bottomless pockets to pay for the stuff, after which, the American banks launder the drug money, and then to top it off, the US gun dealers take this laundered money and sell the Mexican drug lords the military grade weapons to fight off the Mexican army and police and to murder some 30,000 people in the last four years. Really you'd have to ask yourself which of the two states failed first, Mexico or the USA?
But all of this is the easy part... when states fail to deliver reasonable governance to this degree, when a state is what I call "bath tub ready", what follows is difficult to predict beyond its messiness.
Here is a possible scenario of political "science fiction":
Over the last few years, the drug gangs of Mexico have developed into very sophisticated paramilitary organizations with expertize in counter-surveillance, counter-intelligence, recruiting and corrupting public officials, confronting conventional military power, money laundering, clandestine transnational movement of men and materiel, financial engineering and communications of all kinds, not just their primary skill set of torturing and killing people and blowing things up.
A large number of poor young Mexicans, both men and women, without a great deal to look forward to in life, are joining these organizations, where they are being exposed to and being trained in the above mentioned skills to a high degree. This might be the proper place to point out that these are the typical organizational and operating capabilities of a national liberation movement. It would appear that developed countries' addiction to illegal recreational drugs is the natural way to finance revolutionary activity in the underdeveloped countries that produce or transport those drugs... That is how the Taliban finance their long running war against the United States, by the way. Here might also be a good place to point out that traditional South American revolutionary movements such as Colombia's FARC and Peru's "Shining Path" already finance themselves by catering to American's love of cocaine and that neither Colombia nor Peru share Mexico's vibrant revolutionary traditions.
So it might be logical to postulate that if a contemporary Emiliano Zapata were to appear among the poor of Mexico, he or she would almost certainly spring from the ranks of the young people who are being armed and trained by the Mexican drug lords. Many commentators accuse the FARC and the Shining Path guerrillas of being nothing more than drug gangs disguised as revolutionaries... perhaps to win the sympathy of Mexican poor, the Mexican drug lords might consider donning such a disguise themselves. Or perhaps one of their number might have a genuinely patriotic epiphany... Who knows? But the temptation would be great. As we know in the United States, wrapping oneself in the flag is... why continue?
But however such a development took place it would lead to outcomes much worse than anything that the Middle East or South West Asia could ever dish up. Nothing that Al Qaida or any Islamic organization could execute would ever destabilize life in the USA even a fraction of what a well funded, well armed and sophisticated revolutionary movement in Mexico could.
Imagine what sort of nativist paranoia and racist hysteria would result if only one single Mexican woman ever blew herself up in a crowded shopping center in Los Angeles. Impossible you say, suicide bombers are always Muslim fanatics going for the 72 virgins in Islamic paradise... Sorry, but the exploding vest, the most effective terrorist weapon ever developed was the invention of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, a secular, nationalist liberation movement. Globalization means the free movement of ideas, remember?
In the 1990s as the Russians lost control of their traditional spheres of influence; the world witnessed the seemingly magic disintegration of the czarist empire that Russia had maintained through world wars and revolution since the 17th century. The similarities to the deflation of US power in Latin America are striking. If anything defines the times we are living through it is that the unthinkable and the unbelievable not only can happen, they are almost sure to happen, just as sheep are cloned and the New York skyline is fractured.
But remember, what happens in Mexico is financed by the American hunger for chemical release from their daily lives and armed by the greed of American arm dealers, who are unrestrained because the American political system is paralyzed by special interest lobbies.
The United States is the world's richest, most powerful country, only the United States can defeat or destroy the United States... "Heck of job Uncle Sam!" DS