The Year of Living Dangerously: Peña Nieto’s Presidency of Shadows

Mexican Cartel Op-Ed No. 1

The Year of Living Dangerously: Peña Nieto’s Presidency of Shadows

Paul Rexton Kan

Part 1 of a series that provides a retrospective look at the first year of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Sexenio with comments on the prospects for 2014. These Op-Eds, numbered 1-7, are written by various SWJ El Centro fellows. Of note is the dynamic that we are witnessing between the criminal insurgent aspects of the conflict now raging in Mexico and the PRI administration’s focus on promoting the interests of the Mexican ruling class over the security and safety needs of the majority of its citizenry. RJB  

Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has a notorious thirst for information and statistics, reportedly tormented his staff with the slogan, “In God We Trust.  Everyone Else Bring Data.” There are several interesting and contradictory pieces of data to apply to an assessment of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s efforts to tackle drug violence during his first year in office.  The Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica (SNSP) reports that homicides fell in 2013 compared to the peak numbers in 2012.  Official figures show that there were nearly 6000 fewer killings between January and October of this year as compared to last year—15,350 homicides versus 21,700.  There were also the notable arrests of several cartel leaders of Los Zetas, the Gulf cartel, the Tijuana cartel, and even the Sinaloa cartel. 

Yet these seeming successes cannot cast a strong enough shadow over more ominous data.  The decline in reported homicides was in sharp contrast to the rise in extortion, which was up 10 percent, and the rise in kidnappings, which were up 33 percent.  The number of disappearances also shows no signs of abating.  The key arrests of some cartel leaders have not been matched with equal vigor in prosecutions or extraditions.  Few high level cartel members have been prosecuted and sentenced in Mexico over the past year and extraditions to the US are stalled.

Also stalled was the plan to reduce the military’s activity in favor of building a national gendarmerie.  There are no fewer troops on the street and the gendarmerie’s rollout has been diluted and delayed. What was to be a force of 40,000 will now be 5,000 to be deployed sometime next year. The continuing weakness of Mexican law enforcement and judiciary has undermined the already fragile confidence that civil society has in the government to provide security.  The result has been that many Mexicans have taken public safety into their own hands.  While there are no firm numbers, there has been the noticeable emergence of numerous vigilante groups and ad hoc militias, especially in the states of Michoacan and Guerrero.  The internet hacktivist collective, Anonymous, has created franchises in Mexico who act as “cyber-vigilantes” to expose the collusion between drug cartels, business owners and politicians.

What has been most obscured in darkness is a coherent strategy to fight organized crime in the country.  The explicit promise by Peña Nieto to reduce drug fueled violence in Mexico has not evolved into a plan for action with clear goals and measurements for success.  Initially, it appeared that the new administration was attempting a violence reduction strategy to be focused on community building by offering more education, jobs, parks, and social activities while sweeping up lower level criminals and not focusing on removing kingpins.  However, what has emerged is not a violence reduction strategy, but a “violence perception management” strategy.  The management of perceptions of drug violence has the goal of reducing drug killings from the headlines of national and international news so that PRI can focus on its larger reform package of economic and social policies like tackling education, energy, and telecommunication. 

Drug violence is an unwelcomed distraction from the grander plans of the PRI and President Peña Nieto.  By intention or by default, their organized crime strategy in this first year has sought to drape a veil of shadows across the country’s drug violence by bringing to light other economic and social efforts.

Adding to this enveloping shadow is the growing lack of accessible information about drug violence in Mexico.  The country remains the deadliest place in Latin America for journalists and one of the most dangerous in the world.  This has severely affected the ability to check the government’s crime statistics, which have been notoriously manipulated over the years.  A recent post on insightcrime.org demonstrates the unevenness of government crime statistics, “Some newspapers, which began counting the organized crime-related murders during Calderon’s administration, continue their own homicide tallies. Reforma said in mid-March that the “drug-related” homicides were higher in the first three months under Peña Nieto than the last three months of Calderon. Milenio had numbers that were consistent with the current administration’s. La Jornada registered significantly lower levels than the others but said there was an upward trend.”  The shadow on information has also swallowed government agencies—the Procudaria General de la Republica (PGR) has not developed a reliable database to track kidnappings and disappearances. 

However, the most revealing piece of data comes from Mexican citizens themselves.  According to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) 2013 victimization survey, the net result of the past twelve months is that Mexicans say they feel more unsafe than in previous years.  The darkness of drug violence appears to have grown only deeper.

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Should we rightfully blame the woes of not just Mexico but of various countries and peoples throughout the world -- and blame the corresponding need to deal with insurgencies, gangs, criminal enterprises, drug violence, rebellions, etc. -- on the societal breakdowns which have occurred via "our" and "their" attempts to "North Americanize" "different" countries and populations around the world?

From S. P. Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" in Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993 (3/4ths the way down the page in the major section entitled "Torn Countries").

http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/kingch/Clash_of_Civilizations.html

"In 1991 a top adviser to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari described at length to me all the changes the Salinas government was making. When he finished, I remarked: "That's most impressive. It seems to me that basically you want to change Mexico from a Latin American country into a North American country." He looked at me with surprise and exclaimed: "Exactly! That's precisely what we are trying to do, but of course we could never say so publicly." As his remark indicates, in Mexico as in Turkey, significant elements in society resist the redefinition of their country's identity."

If one messes with the bull so-to-speak (the identify and the structures, values, attitudes and beliefs which underpin a society) then one should expect to get the horns (insurgencies, terrorism, genocide, societal breakdown, rebellion, criminal enterprises, drug violence, etc., etc., etc.).

Thus, an understanding the problems in Mexico --and of other states and societies -- via an understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between (1) large-scale and across-the-board attempts at state and societal change and (2) the difficulties -- of every stripe and kind -- related to and brought about by such broad, radical and ripping processes.

(This such understanding, for example, giving rise to such ideas as "the era of persistent conflict?")

Dayuhan---you still have not understood Robert's occupation resistance concept.

Totally correct we have a massive US drug consumer market place--but what you fail to "see" and understand" is an unfinished Mexican Revolution started in 1910 interrupted by US Army intervention until we entered WW1 that has never been able to complete itself out.

Corruption one says is a problem in Mexico--same argument made in 1910, land reform the core of the revolution never finished actually never began, governance issues---was then and is not today as it is the rule by elites, poor judicial system was then and is today rule for and protecting of the elites, there never has been a form of security provided to the entire population then and currently still not today.

There is far more at work than just a "US drug consumption problem".

NOW mix in the self defense groups springing up in heavy cartel controlled areas that are separate from the Mexican Federal Police/Military that in fact are being viewed as a threat against the government--but are springing up as a result of the inability of the Mexican Government to provide basic security and governance. Robert would argue this is all about failed governance.

Dayuhan if you do not think it is not now in Mexico a drug driven insurgency with a very effective "shadow" cartel government being countered by now the Government together with population self defense groups---JUST what the heck is it? Do not blame whatever it is on drugs--cheap way out of the debate.

Dayuhan--check the last sentence.

Taken from Borderlandbeat 9/1/2013:

“Every day from seven o’clock to noon I attend to my patients but from noon and on I go to the war”, Dr. Mireles in his office in Tepalcatepec, November, 2013.

Michoacán is in the middle of war. The three main players are: Los Caballeros Templarios; the Federal Police and the Mexican Army; and the self-defense groups that have emerged in Michoacán-much like in other states-in a void of peace and security.

From these self-defense groups there has emerged a moral leader in the region of Tierra Caliente. Dr. José Manuel Mireles Valverde heads the General Council of the Community and Self-Defense Groups of Michoacán. Ever since the people of this region rose in February, Dr. Mireles has been a public voice who calls for Mexicans to be able to defend themselves against organized crime.

Dr. Mireles is now in Mexico City, recovering under the custody of the Federal Police. The federal government has stated that it provided Dr. Mireles with protection because basically he’s a political figure. Without him, communities that now confide in the self-defense groups would be without a figure that represents the struggle of the people against organized crime.

But in Michoacán, the threat of cartels covers more aspects than any other criminal gang. As shown in one of the photos of Musielik, the Templars, like its predecessor (La Familia Michoacana), are a social force that some residents of the conflict zones will demonstrate their commitment and loyalty, even on their shirts.

“It’s a revolt”, Hans-Máximo says, who for the past year has traveled several times to Michoacán take photos. “Whoever they are, it’s a historical event.”

Outlaw 09:

You said:

"Totally correct we have a massive US drug consumer market place--but what you fail to "see" and understand" is an unfinished Mexican Revolution started in 1910 interrupted by US Army intervention until we entered WW1 that has never been able to complete itself out."

What?! 4,800 men blundering around part of northern Mexico for a year looking for Villa and never finding him and a 6 month occupation of Veracruz; these things interrupted the Mexican Revolution? I think you are vastly, impossibly and by light years overstating the effect of these American misadventures.

duplicate post

Before invoking Robert's name on this issue, you might want to ask him what he thinks of it, or look at some of his postings on the subject. It's one of the topics on which he and I consistently agree.

Look at what you wrote above:

if you do not think it is not now in Mexico a drug driven insurgency with a very effective "shadow" cartel government being countered by now the Government together with population self defense groups---JUST what the heck is it? Do not blame whatever it is on drugs

In one sentence you describe a "drug-driven insurgency", in the next you say "do not blame whatever it is on drugs". If it's "drug-driven", how do you not blame it on drugs?

Of course Mexico has all manner of political and social problems. This is well known and understood. What exacerbates and magnifies these problems, and renders them unmanageable, is a geographic position that renders it essential to a business that is both outrageously profitable and illegal. The massive disproportion between the profits to be earned through drug trafficking and the state of the Mexican economy makes it inevitable that as long as that drug demand exists unabated, there will be a massive criminal infrastructure competing for control of critical territory in Mexico. Trying to oppose or degrade that infrastructure in Mexico is at best a transient solution: as long as the profit generator is intact, the criminals will return and they will compete for control.

Again: treating this as a Mexican problem that is overflowing into the US is absurd. This is an American problem that has spilled over into Mexico. Without American drug demand Mexico would certainly have all kinds of problems. There would be poverty, crime, corruption, political instability, perhaps even insurgency. These would exist, but their scale would be in proportion to the capacity of government, and government would have at least a fighting chance to manage them. What blows the problems out of proportion to the capacity of government and makes them unmanageable is the continuing influx of billions of dollars under the control of criminal elements.

If we want to slap a band-aid on a bleeding artery, we can sit around discussing insurgency and COIN in Mexico. If we want to address root causes, we need to focus American attention on the impact that America's asinine drug policies have had on Mexico and other countries south of the border. We need to stop blaming "them", accept responsibility for the consequences of our own mistakes, and reverse the priorities of our drug policy from interdicting supply to reducing demand. Denying the impact of our policies on the region at large is counterproductive.

Dayuhan---so you are saying that in fact the current problems today in Mexico is nothing more than US drug consummation and it has nothing to do with the uncompleted revolution from 1910.

So in fact are you saying that the initial occupation of Mexico via the US Army did not have an internal impact 100 years later-was the revolution completed or not completed---was land reform completed or not completed?

These problems were inherently there long before the drugs and have in fact spun into the mind set of the various cartels in their image propaganda being spread by narco bands and social media---a number of images they use come out of the revolution period. Some even go as far to state "we are supporting" the locals against the out of control government when they send military and federal police into their areas---"we are the ones who take the land from the elites". Even the Templers use imagery from that period and it has nothing to do with the Crusades.

Are you stating that the ability of a cartel to legally move into US banks, business, law firms via the drug profits is an American problem?---might be defined as greed but the drug earnings that we Americans as consumers pay appear to be flowing back to the US not flowing from the US into Mexican banks or to Mexican elites. Kind of the old capitalistic thing of making money grow and legal.

By the way the cartels have in fact begun a diversification program that creates far more "profits" than does the US drug consumption profits.

So basically your argument that it is all US drug driven demand that is the problem starts to fall apart.

Currently stolen smartphones are a 30B a year business, extortion and "taxes" inside Mexico is equaling an estimated 4-6B a year, they now invest/take over agricultural and mining interests another 6-10B--yes initially paid for by the US consumption but now running under Mexican money, oil theft and or investments into the oil industry---another 4 to 5B. Export "taxes" per truck on products going to or coming from the US due to NAFTA another estimated 1-2B.

So in fact they have already started the process of long term diversification that allows them to step into other markets when the drug business eventually goes south.

A second step in this diversification process is the creation of south of the border drug consumption which is now reaching US levels--a great replacement strategy if one is anticipating a drop in northern sales.

Dayuhan---solve the internal problems created by the lack of an unfinished revolution so the population buys into the governance side and you will see just how fast the cartels get sidelined by the population.

That is the reason for the newly developing "self defense forces."

That has nothing to do with your argument it is all US drug consumption.

Have you really spent time reading the Borderlandbeat blog, InsigthCrime, or other links on Mexico?-- the picture inside Mexico is far different than what the outside media plays it to be.

So in fact an occupation resistance started in 1910 is now playing out and it is not drug driven.

The elites of Mexico just do not want to see it nor do we want to see it.

This comment:

solve the internal problems created by the lack of an unfinished revolution so the population buys into the governance side and you will see just how fast the cartels get sidelined by the population.

is beyond speculative, and unsupported by evidence or reasoning. Even were it true, it would be utterly irrelevant, because there is not one shred of a thing that the United States can do to solve Mexico's internal problems and persuade "the population" to "buy into" governance. Even if Mexican governance were far more popular than it is, much of the populace would still "buy into" the cartels instead, because the cartels have enormous amounts of money to spend. This is not about Mexican governance, it's about the almost incomprehensible distortion of Mexican governance provided by the influx of drug money. Without that, the necessarily imperfect process of governmental evolution would have some chance of proceeding and managing its problems. Add the distortion provided by that money and there's little if any chance that government can compete.

Of course the cartels are diversifying, that's to be expected. Drugs are still the core of the business, and woithout them the Government has at least a fighting chance to prevail. What's more, a serious US attempt to reduce drug demand would at least begin the process of persuading the Mexican government and populaces that the US is beginning to act in good faith and recognize its share of the problem.

The US can't "fix" Mexico. Mexico has to evolve beyond its challenges, on its own. What the US can do is fix its own aberrant policies that make Mexico's evolutionary journey far more difficult than it would otherwise be. The evolutionary journey would still be difficult - they always are - but it would be much closer to manageable.

RC---your comments are interesting and a style not heard before and goes to what I have been saying over and over---unless there is a clear and concise discussion of the problem we will get nowhere---at least the articles are a wake up call and point to specific issues inside the over all problem---what is Mexico on our border a "failed" state or a "non" existent state as the cartel's "shadow" government has been successful in totally undermining the State itself in ways that rival AFG or an African country.

I think in fact the military does have something to offer but not in the traditional sense and within the boundaries of the law.

Example---there was and probably still is ultra-light flights crossing the border--response from the civilian analyst side---not much of an issue as they can only bring in based on the ultra-light between 150-250 lbs at a time when tractor trailers bring in 4-8 tons at a time and they were flying back empty. When the question was raised well when are they going to discover they can fly back with cash and how much cash is 250 lbs in 50/100s--well over 6M possible per flight---stunned silence was the response.

Problem was the US federal side (FAA) viewed the over flights as a technical lack of a visa thing, for the DEA it was being viewed as a illegal over flight therefore an AF thing, for the AF they had nothing to pickup the low bush top flights and jets are to fast and for the CBP they waited on everyone else to make a decision.

When it was suggested that the Army use to have a low level missile system plus "radars" sitting in storage doing nothing as we the Army are no longer in the low level AD business---again stunned silence.

THEN comes along a defense contractor and sells a modified version of what is sitting in the warehouses for millions to the CBP.

We have on the military side expertise in the CTF world that can track money from/to say Iran or for AQ, but we cannot track money laundering by US bankers, US lawyers, and US businesses?

Yes you are totally correct on the US demand being the problem and how we the US citizen loves to ignore that single fact unless it is in our own family.

We have on the military side a massive analysis capability looking for a new home and business after AFG winds down--refocus them intently on the Mexican and US to analyze the depth of the problem-who is involved and why we are not doing anything. We can link analyze just about anything why do we not share with local police---yes we have separation of power laws but the problem is now so large is it not time to rethink what is and what is not shared?

It is possible to keep military out of the civilian side but there are military capabilities that can be shared that do not violate that core legal issue but no one wants to talk about it as it would wake up the US population to the depth of the problem.

How do you sell the idea that those great vacation beaches south of the border have a violence level that is equal to and or far worse than the current violence in say Iraq?

Really how much do we know as citizens just what is going on inside Mexico and why it is occurring. How much do US citizens really know of the Mexican Revolution from 1910, how much do we really know about the deep corruption since 1910 in Mexico---to argue as Dayuhan does that it is a US problem that destabilizes Mexico is a shine argument when the Mexicans themselves have not finished their own 1910 Revolution (in which we militarily intervened in until WW1). What was the reason for US military intervention in Mexico and why did we stay so long?

If one looks at the blog borderlandbeat it would be a major wakeup call and it is being driven by concerned citizens not the government---strange?

SWJ has a broad appeal within the military as a reputable blog site---why not deepen that conversation with such things as these articles--but again my question---why the apparent silence from readers?

I personally have been impressed with the three articles and are awaiting the remaining articles---more of this should be released on SWJ and I am amazed how few to no comments are being generated---it is we simply know nothing about the south of the border drug cartel driven insurgency and the push back by the population now against both the government/drug cartels or is it too close to home?

This is a key sentence;

"The darkness of drug violence appears to have grown only deeper."

Maybe this explains the lack of comments----the title of one article "southern border of Iraq" should be a wakeup call-nothing but silence---interesting to say the least.

We "worry" about Fulluja in our daily media, but nothing on the killings, disappearances, extortions, ever expanding cartel power as a Mexican "shadow" government, and how over 1500 American towns/cities have cartel reps in them----how utterly strange there are no comments?

Kind of like the trees in a forest being cut down and not a single sound was heard.

Yesterday over 140 kilos of cocaine were discovered by a discount retail store in Berlin Germany as they unpacked banana boxes that had been exported from Columba---now how is that as an example of a fully functioning transnational criminal activity?

Street value of over 2M Euros.

The articles seem valuable to me as far as they go, but like much of our discourse on the subject, they are more notable for where they don't go: north of the border. We need to stop framing this as a Mexican problem that is spilling over and destabilizing America (with attendant invocations of "insurgency" leading inevitably toward "counterinsurgency") and recognize the problem for what it is: an American problem that has spilled over and destabilized Mexico.

At the core of this situation is the utterly perverse American habit of blaming drug problems on supply, rather than demand. That perversity leads to policies and practices that don't constrain demand at all, and constrain supply just enough to keep prices astronomical. The epic disproportion between economic conditions in Mexico (and other states with similar problems) and the overwhelming economic incentive toward crime created by the absurdity of American drug policy creates a problem that no Mexican state is likely to overcome. While Mexico certainly has abundant governance issues, the herd of elephants in the drawing room is the devastating impact that America's refusal to manage its drug habit has on social and political conditions south of the border.

The problem ain't them. The problem is us. We may be able to help them manage the problem that we have created for them, but if we're looking for solutions, we need to look a lot closer to home.

Outlaw 09,

IMO one of the major reasons there appears to be an indifference to the severity of the problem is that amongst the folks that consider themselves law abiding there are very few who are aware of the amount of hard drugs that enter ‘normal’ society and the wealth it generates for many respected groups within that said community. My personal experience was limited to the trafficking of heroin but I imagine it is similar for most hard drugs.

My primary task was to Mark One Eyeball (M1E) enemy fighters, weapons and ordnance passing into the AO. We were tasked with determining the number and type of weapons and ordnance and whether they were Chincom, Pakistani or ME in make and the ethnicity of those carrying the above. Some of our observations required us to be as up close and personal to glean a serial number so take it from me we understood exactly what was going across the border.

For what it was worth the weapons and men revealed nothing extraordinary or unexpected on a day to day, month to month basis.

However it was the scale of the amount of material that was heading the other way that I found difficult to comprehend. Having been raised in comfortable middle class environment I had always assumed heroin trafficking to be one step below murder in the eyes of the criminal-justice system and in my mind’s eye the heavy prison terms handed down to those busted in possession of 10 kg, 20 kg or perhaps a rare 100 kg haul of heroin was a valid reflection of the devastating effects heroin has on the community.

The heroin pipeline and the illicit weapons pipeline criss-cross, converge and enmesh a great deal so a close observation of one reveals considerable detail about the other. We were tasked to penetrate the small town/s wherein both supply lines came together to be warehoused, inventoried and dispatched in the appropriate direction - the weapons and men in the direction of the AO and the heroin to all points of the globe.

Whilst the military hardware was vigorously guarded the heroin was treated much as a farmer might treat strawberries, mangoes, dates or some other exotic fruit. Five ton or ten trucks with broken axels, burnt out clutches or some other major breakdown would result in the entire load of heroin (as much as five tons) being dumped on the side of the road and the precious jingle truck towed away to be repaired. Initially I found this off-hand ‘agricultural’ attitude to vast amounts of heroin completely astonishing. Over time this carefree discarding/dumping of massive amounts became a routine observation.

Over the years as I encountered more individuals higher up the supply chain it became apparent that this attitude did not stop in the Third World but barreled straight across the ocean to the homeland and washed over just about everyone involved in the supply of heroin .

In my experience the Mafia was the sole shipper. I imagine there are others but I only ever encountered the Sicilian Mafia - the Costa Nostra. The Mafia only ship tons, normally five tons but sometimes more in a single consignment. The tiny five, ten, one hundred kg packages were assigned to individuals referred to as Weekend Couriers and were occasionally fingered by the Mafia so the local law enforcement (both here and there) could have a trophy to brag about in their war on drugs. The only exception to risk of arrest faced by these amateur opportunists were members of the Diplomatic Corps. They were Teflon Weekenders ie. nothing nor no one touched them - neither this end or that end.

From what I understand there is approximately one ton of heroin entering the US each day. So that is over 365 ton a year. (IMO it is much more but what would I know). The same amount into Europe and again into the former Soviet Union and Asia/Oceania and probably the same into Africa and the ME.

You don’t have to M1E these assholes to understand the enormous discrepancy to what we perceive to be the scale of the problem and what it actually is . You can do the maths from our end backwards . There are nearly one million heroin users in the US. Say each junkie drops one gm (1/28 of an ounce) per day - 1 gm x 1 million hits equals one ton a day consumed – nowadays usually smoked or snorted as AIDS has rendered needles risky old-school. The amount of money this generates is enormous. As so much is cold hard cash the prolificacy and liquidity of these huge amounts means many elements of supposedly law-abiding society are awash with narc-dollars. Bankers, politicians, lawyers, judges, customs, police, doctors, diplomats, teamsters, longshoreman , security guards, money changers whatever - they are all involved with varying degrees of complicity.

We M1Eed police chiefs, diplomats, green helmets, blue helmets, NGO workers of every color, CEOs, pilots, hookers, taxi drivers, delivery boys and the minimum wage dude manning the rear gate at the bonded shipping container yard - all getting a piece of the action.

We constantly had our efforts to monitor the flow of arms and combatants obscured or hampered - and on a few occasions compromised - by the avalanche of heroin and the camp-followers rumbling by our OP.

If you have enjoyed the experience of the trafficker’s sneering reaction when a spokesperson for the authorities appears on TV or the front page of a newspaper to announce yet another ‘ major blow against the drug lords’ you begin to appreciate how misconstrued our current framing of the problem actually is.

This derision is something that constantly punctuates the banter amongst heroin traffickers and is occasionally shared with outsiders when they drink too much and talk too much. They sneer at the media’s thundering headlines when a few kilos of heroin and a Weekend Courier is sacrificed to grease the flow of the 5 ton consignments heading for the US, Europe and elsewhere each and every week.

The brazen deceit, flagrant hypocrisy and buffoon self-righteousness of the leadership of our current effort formulates a twisted logic in the Mafioso’s mind.This absurd rhetoric indicates to them that we as a society actually desire the misery they are inflicting upon us.

IMHO there needs to be a profound realignment in the comprehension of the scale of the tonnage of heroin pouring in and a recognition that it is the commercial gain by many respected institutions within our society that is the COG of our problem and not the Mafia and the end users. In other words until we reach the point whereby public figures stop announcements heralding the occasional seizure of a few kgs of heroin and establish a position whereby they announce the interception of 5 ton hauls each and every week we can’t begin to even frame a possible solution.

I would suggest that if we continue to define our problem in kilos rather than tons any debate as to whether law enforcement, education, decriminalization or the military should take the lead in the effort is pointless. What this lack of understanding of scale indicates is the lens thru which we hope to identify the basic nature of our problem is so deformed that we are essentially blind.

I'm reluctant to disagree with Outlaw but I don’t believe the military has much to offer in curing what is a societal weakness. I would have thought the military has more than enough problems executing the job it already has. However perhaps the advice Clausewitz held foremost in his mind might provide some guidance at the get-go .

“The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking."

RC

RC---at least you got to check serial numbers---some of us in the past had to actually insert rigged munitions' boxes into certain depots in the middle of the night.

You are right in one aspect I do not think we the US have even defined just what the problem is and why is it occurring---maybe we do not want to because then we might have to do something.

Someone recently said the US foreign policy is one of "do not rock the boat"---maybe they are right. Guess pretending that it is someone else's problem is one way of doing business these days. Saves a lot of time in not having to explain to Congress which would not understand it anyway.

“The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking."