One of America’s few wise men tells us about Mexico

Summary:  This is a brief report about Mexico, seen as a problem for the USA.  Analysis of the problem and our government’s idiotic response, plus a possible solution.


  1. La Rubia y La Droga – Notes From an Unknown Planet“, Fred Reed, Fred on Everything, 30 March 2009
  2. U.S. military outreach to Mexico likely to upset … Mexicans, McClatchy Newspapers, 15 March 2009 — Any situation can be made worse by stupidity; our rulers are on the job. 
  3. A User’s Guide to Thoroughly Stupid Foreign Policy“, Fred on Everything, 19 April 2009
  4. Afghanistan south“, Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC, 6 March 2009 — A solution

(1)  About Mexico, the US, and drugs

To find wisdom when crossing the vast intellectual desert of the Internet, go to the website of Fred Reed.  Here he tells us about Mexico, so much in the news lately.  As in this excerpt from “La Rubia y La Droga – Notes From an Unknown Planet“, Fred Reed, Fred on Everything, 30 March 2009:

I read with horror that Hillary Clinton, posing as the Secretary of State, has been in Mexico talking with Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s president, about “the problem of drugs.” Horror is the reasonable response whenever an American official is allowed to pass beyond the beltway. Or stay within it. They never know what they are doing. Oh god.

In fairness, I have to concede that Ms. Clinton is well qualified to talk to Calderon, since he speaks — English. Further, I concede that she does have a grasp of things Latin American, engendered by many years in — Arkansas. Aaagh.

May I suggest that the former First Basilisk had no idea where she was or what she was doing? Oh god, oh god. Oh god.

To show that utter futility can, if not be fun, at least serve to pass an idle hour, let me express the common Mexican and indeed South American view of the, oh god, War on Drugs. It goes thusly:

Latin America does not have a drug problem. It has a United States problem. The problem is that Americans want drugs. The US is a huge, voracious, insatiable market for drugs. Americans very much want their brain candy. They will pay whatever they need to pay to get it. All the world knows this.

Why, Mexicans wonder, is America’s drug habit Mexico’s problem? If Americans don’t want drugs, they can stop buying them. Nobody forces anyone to use the stuff.

Ah, the rub is that Washington doesn’t want Americans to have drugs. All right, say Mexicans, that is a problem between the American government and the American people. Let America solve it.

Why, Mexican’s ask-read this sentence carefully-should Mexico tear itself in pieces, lose thousands of dead annyally, and turn into a war zone to solve a problem that America refuses to solve?

Think. Why doesn’t the American government run sting operations at, say, Berkeley and Stanford, and Rice and George Washington U., and put those students caught using drugs in the slam for two years per? How about a sting at your daughter’s high school, with a year in some nasty reformatory, which is to say any reformatory, for those caught? It could be a family sort of thing. You could visit her and hear what fascinating things she had learned about compulsory Lesbian sex.

The reason of course is that any effort to punish large classes of politically influential people would result in a revolution. You can’t jail Harvard. So Washington doesn’t. Instead it expects Mexico to do something about drugs.

… In short, the WOD is a fraud. In America the drug racket is a mildly disreputable business, tightly integrated into the economy, running smoothly, employing countless federal cops, prison guards, ineffectual rehab centers and equally ineffectual psychotherapists, and providing bribes to officials and huge deposits of laundered money to banks. Narcos in the US do not engage in pitched battles with the army because they have no reason to. The government barely inconveniences them.

So why should Mexico fight this war for Washington?

(2)  Any situation can be made worse by stupidity, and our rulers are on the job

U.S. military outreach to Mexico likely to upset … Mexicans, McClatchy Newspapers, 15 March 2009 — Excerpt:

As the Pentagon eyes a bigger role in Mexico’s drug war, the military’s efforts to open the door to a new relationship with its southern neighbor risk alienating the Mexican military, which has long had a strained relationship with its counterpart, experts said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called for improved relations with the Mexican military in response to escalating drug violence along the Mexican border and in Mexico. On “Meet the Press” earlier this month, the secretary said: “I think we are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past. Some of the old biases against cooperation between our militaries and so on, I think, are being set aside.”

(3)  Comment by Fred Reed about the above story

A User’s Guide to Thoroughly Stupid Foreign Policy“, Fred on Everything, 19 April 2009 — Excerpt:

Book me a ticket to Mars. The Pentagon is eyeing something, a sure recipe for disaster. Previously it has eyed Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and made a horrendous mess of each. Now the Five-Sided Sand Box is eyeing Mexico. Oh good. Let’s get involved in another third-world catastrophe by meddling in what we don’t understand.

… How stupid can you get? (The question is rhetorical. Pentagonal stupidity does not converge, but increases without limit.) To improve relations with the Mexican army, we rub its nose in having defeated them. “Haha, Pedro, you got a few of our guys, but we kicked your hindparts good, didn’t we?” The unspoken subtext to any Mexican being, “And we can do it again.”

Let me explain something. To Mexicans, the US is not a friendly nation. The reasons are countless, some valid and some not, but Mexicans do not see America as benign. They fear the US military, which they regard as out of control, invading country after country in pursuit of oil.

Mexico has oil. America lost control of it in 1938 when Lazaro Cardenas nationalized it. Mexicans believe, in dead seriousness, that the US would love a pretext for invading to get it back. A pretext such as coming in to help Mexico fight drugs, and just not leaving. Iraq comes instantly to their minds.

And so the good admiral and the SecDef come to pay homage to the American soldiers who conquered Mexico. What diplomatic genius. While they are at it, why not lay a wreath in Hiroshima to the brave American airmen who died over Japan? Or maybe erect a statue to Sherman in Atlanta? What if the Mexican army chief went to New York to commemorate the courageous freedom fighters who took down the towers? 

(4)  A solution, if we but had the will and wit to try it

From “Afghanistan south“, Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC, 6 March 2009 — Excerpt:

How does one win a drug war when millions of Americans who use recreational drugs are financing the cartels bribing, murdering and beheading to win the war and keep self-indulgent Americans supplied with drugs?

There are two sure ways to end this war swiftly: Milton’s way and Mao’s way. Mao Zedong’s communists killed users and suppliers alike, as social parasites. Milton Friedman’s way is to decriminalize drugs and call off the war.

When Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1972, Milton, writing in Newsweek, objected on ethical grounds:

“On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict? For children, almost everyone would answer at least a qualified yes. But for responsible adults, I, for one, would answer no. Reason with the potential addict, yes. Tell him the consequences, yes. Pray for and with him, yes. But I believe that we have no right to use force, directly or indirectly, to prevent a fellow man from committing suicide, let alone from drinking alcohol or taking drugs.”

“Am I my brother’s keeper?'” asked Milton, answering, “No.”

Americans are never going to adopt the Maoist solution. For the users of drugs are all too often classmates, colleagues, friends, even family. Indeed, our last three presidents did not deny using drugs. Once, a Christian America outlawed and punished homosexuality, abortion, alcohol, loan-sharking and gambling, all as criminal vice. Now, homosexuality and abortion are constitutional rights. Gambling and booze are a rich source of government revenue. And loan-sharking is done by credit-card companies, and not just the Corleones.

Will we raise the white flag in the drug war, as well? Which is the greater evil? Legalized narcotics for America’s young or a failed state of 110,000 million on our southern border? Some choice. Some country we’ve become.


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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Other reports about Mexico

  1. Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?“, George Friedman, Stratfor, 13 May 2008
  2. Mexico: Examining Cartel War Violence Through a Protective Intelligence Lens“, Stratfor, 14 May 2008
  3. Crime and Punishment in Mexico: The big picture beyond drug cartel violence“, posted at Grits for Breakfast, 18 May 2008
  4. State of Siege: Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency“, John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus, Small Wars Journal, 19 August 2008
  5. After Action Report – Vistit Mexico“, General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret), 29 December 2008
  6. Mexico Security Memo – Year-end Wrap-up“, Stratfor, 5 January 2009
  7. The Long Arm of the Lawless“, Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 25 February 2009

For more information from the FM site

Posts about Mexico:

  1. Is Mexico unraveling?, 28 April 2008 — summary of Stratfor’s warnings about Mexico.
  2. “High Stakes South of the Border”, 13 May 2008
  3. Stratfor: the Mexican cartels stike at Phoenix, AZ, 6 July 2008
  4. “Drug cartels ‘threaten’ Mexican democracy”, 24 July 2008
  5. Stratfor reports on Mexico, news ignored by our mainstream media, 19 August 2008
  6. Nonsense from StrategyPage: Iraq is safer than Mexico, 17 December 2008
  7. New reports about Mexico, the failing state on our border, 9 January 2009
  8. Stratfor writes about “the third war” in Mexico, 15 April 2009
  9. Stratfor: “When the Mexican Drug Trade Hits the Border”, 20 April 2009

13 thoughts on “One of America’s few wise men tells us about Mexico”

  1. Wayne Conrad

    In my youth, the police knocked on the door and handed you the warrant before coming in. Now they come through the door in the dead of night, hooded, yelling and pointing guns. It was the War on Drugs that started this tactic, to keep the subject of the warrant from having time to flush the goods down the toilet. It only took a generation for “no knock” warrants to become the preferred tactic for use against anyone who is known to have firearms. From “preserve the evidence” to “officer safety” in one easy step, and now every police department in the country has to have a SWAT team and use it as often as possible. What’s worse, those SWAT teams have become cogs in a little military-industrial-complex, seizing money, firearms and cars, selling them, and using the proceeds on training and military gear for use in the next raid.

    Even if discontinuing the War on Drugs would result in the awful horrors that its proponents claim–and that’s a big if–its cost to our civil liberties, in treasure and as you point out, to our foreign policy is too high for it to continue.

  2. FM, Are you a Maoist?
    Fabius Maximus replies: You must be kidding. Let’s consult the authorities. From Wikipedia:

    The basic tenets of Maoism include revolutionary struggle of the vast majority of people against what they term the exploiting classes and their state structures, termed a People’s War. Usually involving peasants, its military strategies have involved guerrilla war tactics focused on surrounding the cities from the countryside, with an emphasis on political transformation through the mass involvement of the basic people of the society. Maoism departs from conventional European-inspired Marxism in that its focus is on the agrarian countryside, rather than the industrial urban forces. … Some critics claim that Maoists see Joseph Stalin as the last true socialist leader of the Soviet Union, although allowing the Maoist assessments of Stalin vary between the extremely positive and the more ambivalent.

    Perhaps you confuse Mao with Thomas Jefferson, as in his 1814 letter to Thomas Cooper (source):

    Everything predicted by the enemies of banks, in the beginning, is now coming to pass. We are to be ruined now by the deluge of bank paper. It is cruel that such revolutions in private fortunes should be at the mercy of avaricious adventurers, who, instead of employing their capital, if any they have, in manufactures, commerce, and other useful pursuits, make it an instrument to burden all the interchanges of property with their swindling profits, profits which are the price of no useful industry of theirs.

  3. electrophoresis

    On the contrary, the War On Drugs provides the perfect rationale to expand the militarization of American society. Soon we may expect armed checkpoints manned by soldiers with mini-guns at which Americans are forced at gunpoint to submit to instant blood tests to determine if they’re under the influence of drugs. And if the driver gets antsy, or starts acting suspicious, or (heaven forbid) refuses to submit to an unconstitutional search & seizure, why, the soldiers will open fire. Strictly for self-protection, of course. One more smoking car erupts in flames, one more family of charred corpses crashes into the concrete wall. Hey, accidents happen. It’s a war, after all. War is messy. Welcome to Iraq in North America.

    The amount of naievete surrounding peoples’ discussion of the War On Drugs remains astounding. Here’s the reality: the U.S. military-industrial complex has only one overriding goal — to grow as large as possible. It will seize on any pretext to do so. The War On Drugs offers a superb pretext. Therefore the War On Drugs will expand indefinitely. Soon, we’ll get the War On Stimulants — the list of controlled substances will expand to include salvia divinorum, green tea, jimson weed, and then eventually high-caffeine sodas (“Watch out! He’s got a Mountain Dew! Open fire, men! OPEN FIRE!!!”) and that darkly sinister brew which percolates in the very depths of hell, espresso.

    As the War On Drugs expands without limit, American society will become increasingly militarized. Great news for the military-industrial comlpex, and more money all around — more money for police, more money for the military to train ’em, more money for military contractors to provide those nifty new hi-tech weapons to the police. The difference between police and soldiers will disappear, leading of course to the logical consequence that militarized police will view as the enemy of the state its entire population. Great news! Even more money will flow: prison construction, fortified police stations, concrete-bunker checkpoints at every streetcorner. Tons of money everywhere the military-industrial-police complex turns, a veritable Niagara Falls of cash. It will be a happy time for the military-industrial-police complex, since unlike those pesky foreign enemies (whose numbers are limited — we can’t go to war with France however much we’d like to), once the entire population of America become enemies of the state, the need for more and more paramilitary police and more and more dogs and guns and guards and razor-wire bunkers increases without limit.

    Martial law will follow (“For the duration of the current National Drug Emergency…”), with curfews, drumhead “justice” for anyone caught violating the paramilitary edicts (“Sorry, son, but you know better than to be out after 10:00 pm. Captain, form a firing squad…”) and of course the usual displays of central-american-style ultraviolence against repeat transgressors. Cue the earthen dams and raped nuns, stage left.

    We’re already most of the way there. If you protest against being stopped and searched at a police checkpoint, you’ll be beaten and tasered and pepper-sprayed, often to death. Coming soon: midnight SWAT team raids to enforce the War Against Downloading.

    The good news? Our economy will take off like a rocket. America will finally compete successfully with the third world courtesy of our vastly increased prison population of industrious hard workers. At 20 cents an hour, the United States will finally enjoy the low cost advantage over those starving kids weaving rugs in Bangladesh. Of course, if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life weaving rugs in Chino for that joint you smoked, there is an alternative: you can join the army.

    See how it works…?

  4. The War on Drugs sucks, for reasons well stated above.

    However, note that Europe is emerging as a market for cocaine; Mexican drug gangs are forming connections with the ‘Ngrandeta and other European crime organizations; so Mexico would have problems even if the United States disappeared tomorrow.

  5. Fred is pretty good, and has the right take on US interest in Mexico (although Mexico’s oil is supposedly running out soon.) Why then does Fred screw it up with his stereotyped images of kids on drugs and lesbian sex. Is he still living in the fifties, or is he ideologically uninterested in talking about the real drug users in the US, and the social control purposes reflected in our real prison population?

    Buchanan, as usual, is right on. It’s a shame he can’t come out of the closet and just admit he wants to become a leftist.

    FM often wonders why Americans can’t think straight. It’s because we hear sentences like this all day long:

    “As the Pentagon eyes a bigger role in Mexico’s drug war, the military’s efforts to open the door to a new relationship with its southern neighbor risk alienating the Mexican military. . .”

    Just being good neighbors, right?

  6. Major Scarlet

    Fred’s analysis of Mexican’s fear of the American military is a little off. Mexicans fear THE military, not just the Americans. Yes they have a grudge too but he puts way too much weight on fear of the American military machine than it deserves.

  7. Want to reduce drug availability and use? Legalize drugs, then tax the shit out of them. Enforce the tax “Con mucho gusto”, oh wait, that’s how we collect all taxes. It worked on cigarettes and nicotine is more powerfully addictive than heroin.

  8. oh, what a mess. Not sure why I’m even commenting. 100% agreed that the drug war is unwinnable- as the article says, we as a country like drugs.

    The OTHER problem mexico has with the USA is the huge difference in income across the border. Much of mexico is like a 3rd world country. So naturally any place where money meets hungry people you will have vices. By making them illegal, the powers that be can cash in on their power. Nothing new here.

    An experiment in legalization would be interesting- after all we had an experiment in prohibiting alcohol…

    And if we can’t have legalization, at least get some stability and less violence by allowing one of the cartels to win and let them pay off the mexican government so there isn’t a constant war for dominance going on.

  9. Who uses drugs? People who have nothing better to do. Give them something to do. (I dont mean give, gratis, give them opportunity, or in the case of teenagers, better guidance and meaningful work.)

    OK, it’s not that easy. A lot of cultural poisoning has to be undone first. Basically, the whole society has to change. Next question!

  10. anna nicholas

    There is a problem with legalising ‘ drugs ‘ that needs addressing – the mental abilities of those who are taking them .
    First , psychoses and violent behavior ?
    Second , problems with awareness, judgement and memory ?
    The effects of alchohol are obvious , it smells , and we are all used to dealing with drunks.
    Nicotine may have a positive effect on the brain , until it kills you .
    What about illegal drugs , and the legal statins , steroids ,prozacs , sleeping tablets etc ? Should people on these ( and we cant recognise these people as they open the door ) be in a position to approve mortgages , pass laws , run banks , declare wars ?

  11. The big problem with drugs is that most of them come from plants. Plants are ‘manufactured’ by Mother Nature which means that any idiot with a backyard can ‘make’ them which means their manufacture and distribution cannot be controlled. That is why they are illegal, to channel the drug-taking proclivities of human beings (whose underlying drive combines passion and emotion) into those substances which do require organised manufacture (such as booze). Making your own cigarettes is time-consuming and more difficult than you might think to make them smokeable since the basic plant produces what we call ‘cigars’, i.e. too damn strong. So that one works too.

    This is why we don’t have electric cars already, let alone those that run on water-derived hydrogen. Can’t control the distribution and therefore centralise profits and power. Same with local-based electrical generation along Tesla (and suppressed Edison) methods (which is wireless in most cases and therefore does not require a central grid for distribution and was therefore quashed).

    Not to mention the whistleblowers from a few years back who revealed that most of the major drug trafficking into the US is coordinated by CIA black ops. In other words, it is NOT a coincidence that Afghan poppy production went from virtually zero under the Taliban back to world #1 under the US in two short years. By making that stuff illegal, you create a black market which you can control since citizens at home are not allowed to make the stuff in their back yards.

    Elementary, dear Watson: Nothing to do with technology or morals whatsoever. Back to control issues.

  12. Well your Fred Reed article didn’t have much of anything to say about Mexico. It could have been written safely from the US by any libertarian.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Your first sentence is factually wrong. The war on drugs is one of the major forces shaping Mexico. As for the second, perhaps it could have been. But it was in fact written by an experienced journalist living in Mexico, which gives it more credibility than some theorist writing in the US.

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