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Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

miércoles, 19 de febrero de 2014

¿Qué pasaría si la guerra narco-mexicana se pasa a los EE.UU.?

 

  

All Options Bad If Mexico’s Drug Violence Expands to U.S.

By Steven Metz, on         
               
Over the past few decades, violence in Mexico has reached horrific levels, claiming the lives of 70,000 as criminal organizations fight each other for control of the drug trade and wage war on the Mexican police, military, government officials and anyone else unlucky enough to get caught in the crossfire. The chaos has spread southward, engulfing Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Americans must face the possibility that the conflict may also expand northward, with intergang warfare, assassinations of government officials and outright terrorism in the United States. If so, this will force Americans to undertake a fundamental reassessment of the threat, possibly redefining it as a security issue demanding the use of U.S. military power.

One way that large-scale drug violence might move to the United States is if the cartels miscalculate and think they can intimidate the U.S. government or strike at American targets safely from a Mexican sanctuary. The most likely candidate would be the group known as the Zetas. They were created when elite government anti-drug commandos switched sides in the drug war, first serving as mercenaries for the Gulf Cartel and then becoming a powerful cartel in their own right. The Zetas used to recruit mostly ex-military and ex-law enforcement members in large part to maintain discipline and control. But the pool of soldiers and policemen willing to join the narcotraffickers was inadequate to fuel the group’s ambition. Now the Zetas are tapping a very different, much larger, but less disciplined pool of recruits in U.S. prisons and street gangs.

This is an ominous turn of events. Since intimidation through extreme violence is a trademark of the Zetas, its spread to the United States raises the possibility of large-scale violence on American soil. As George Grayson of the College of William and Mary put it, “The Zetas are determined to gain the reputation of being the most sadistic, cruel and beastly organization that ever existed.” And without concern for extradition, which helped break the back of the Colombian drug cartels, the Zetas show little fear of the United States government, already having ordered direct violence against American law enforcement.

Like the Zetas, most of the other Mexican cartels are expanding their operations inside the United States. Only a handful of U.S. states are free of them today. So far the cartels don’t appear directly responsible for large numbers of killings in the United States, but as expansion and reliance on undisciplined recruits looking to make a name for themselves through ferocity continue, the chances of miscalculation or violent freelancing by a cartel affiliate mount. This could potentially move beyond intergang warfare to the killing of U.S. officials or outright terrorism like the car bombs that drug cartels used in Mexico and Colombia. In an assessment for the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, Robert Bunker and John Sullivan considered narcotrafficker car bombs inside the United States to be unlikely but not impossible.

A second way that Mexico’s violence could spread north is via the partnership between the narcotraffickers and ideologically motivated terrorist groups. The Zetas already have a substantial connection to Hezbollah, based on collaborative narcotrafficking and arms smuggling. Hezbollah has relied on terrorism since its founding and has few qualms about conducting attacks far from its home turf in southern Lebanon. Since Hezbollah is a close ally or proxy of Iran, it might some day attempt to strike the United States in retribution for American action against Tehran. If so, it would likely attempt to exploit its connection with the Zetas, pulling the narcotraffickers into a transnational proxy war. The foundation for this scenario is already in place: Security analysts like Douglas Farah have warned of a “tier-one security threat for the United States” from an “improbable alliance” between narcotraffickers and anti-American states like Iran and the “Bolivarian” regime in Venezuela. The longer this relationship continues and the more it expands, the greater the chances of dangerous miscalculation.

No matter how violence from the Mexican cartels came to the United States, the key issue would be Washington’s response. If the Zetas, another Mexican cartel or someone acting in their stead launched a campaign of assassinations or bombings in the United States or helped Hezbollah or some other transnational terrorist organization with a mass casualty attack, and the Mexican government proved unwilling or unable to respond in a way that Washington considered adequate, the United States would have to consider military action.

While the United States has deep cultural and economic ties to Mexico and works closely with Mexican law enforcement on the narcotrafficking problem, the security relationship between the two has always been difficult—understandably so given the long history of U.S. military intervention in Mexico. Mexico would be unlikely to allow the U.S. military or other government agencies free rein to strike at narcotrafficking cartels in its territory, even if those organizations were tied to assassinations, bombings or terrorism in the United States. But any U.S. president would face immense political pressure to strike at America’s enemies if the Mexican government could not or would not do so itself. Failing to act firmly and decisively would weaken the president and encourage the Mexican cartels to believe that they could attack U.S. targets with impunity. After all, the primary lesson from Sept. 11 was that playing only defense and allowing groups that attack the United States undisturbed foreign sanctuary does not work. But using the U.S. military against the cartels on Mexican soil could weaken the Mexican government or even cause its collapse, end further security cooperation between Mexico and the United States and damage one of the most important and intimate bilateral economic relationships in the world. Quite simply, every available strategic option would be disastrous.

Hopefully, cooperation between Mexican and U.S. security and intelligence services will be able to forestall such a crisis. No one wants to see U.S. drones over Mexico. But so long as the core dynamic of narcotrafficking—massive demand for drugs in the United States combined with their prohibition—persists, the utter ruthlessness, lack of restraint and unlimited ambition of the narcotraffickers raises the possibility of violent miscalculation and the political and economic calamity that would follow.

Steven Metz is a defense analyst and the author of "Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy." His weekly WPR column, Strategic Horizons, appears every Wednesday.