Small Wars Journal

From the TBA to the USA: Barbarians at the Gate

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 8:38am

From the TBA to the USA: Barbarians at the Gate


by Marilyn Stern

Download the Full Article: From the TBA to the USA: Barbarians at the Gate

On October 10, 2010, an illegal Mexican immigrant was found beheaded in Phoenix, Arizona as a result of the Mexican drug wars. On October 27, 2010, drug gangs attacked the headquarters of the Los Ramones, Mexico, police department with grenades and the police force quit en masse the next day. The following research provides pertinent background to the increasing chaos at the U.S. southwest border that the federal government continues to ignore.

In The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, Zbigniew Brzezinski, advisor to U.S. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Bush, Sr., wrote in 2004,

"For America, the linkage between state sovereignty and national security was traditionally even more symbiotic than for most other states. . . . The linkage was reinforced by the awareness that geography made America a sanctuary. With two huge oceans providing extraordinary security buffers and with much weaker neighbors to the north and south, Americans considered their nation's sovereignty to be both a natural right as well as a natural consequence of peerless national security. Even when America was drawn into two world wars, it was the Americans who crossed the oceans to combat others in distant lands. Americans went to war, but war did not come to America."

Today, America's geographical boundaries no longer provide that sense of security. In fact, there is a war being waged just beyond America's southwestern border. Mexican drug cartels, ruthless in their lawlessness, are in a bloody competition for superiority. Since January 2007, the narcocartels have killed 6,836 people. The potential strategic threat has markedly increased due to an inadequate U.S. policy to address the escalating levels of violence unleashed by the cartels in Mexico. The instability in Mexico is one symptom of the looming crisis beyond the U.S. border. The research will show that the nexus between criminal activity, drug trafficking and Islamist terror is one that poses an increasing security challenge to the U.S.

Download the Full Article: From the TBA to the USA: Barbarians at the Gate

Marilyn Stern is presently a Master's candidate in National Security at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C.

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)


Dr. Robert J. Bunker (not verified)

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 8:21pm

This now old article might be able to provide some additional background:

Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, "Cartel Evolution: Potentials and Consequences." Transnational Organized Crime 4, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 55-74.

We discuss the TBA (Tri-Border Area) quite a bit concerning how it would relate to an envisioned 3rd phase cartel-- a criminal-state successor. Even back then "failed-communities" were being discussed re the 3GEN Gangs work.

We now have a Mexican security situation in which both the cartels and the gangs are creating "zones of impunity". Any one who does not call this what it is-- an insurgency-- is basically delusional. All because it does not fit the classic definition of an insurgency does not mean it is not one. Guess what happens when a gang takes over a failed-community? They de facto become the new political authority. Reminds me of the early warlords in Europe-- a local thug and his crew take over-- which eventually leads to the creation of fiefs and later state making. So in this sense gangs and cartels that go down this path are very much like new warmaking entities. If Mexico only had an organized crime problem......but we are way beyond that. And yes-- what happens in Mexico no longer stays in Mexico...

slapout9 (not verified)

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 3:59pm

Fantastic article. Two very important ideas are brought out in the article. One Mexico is CONNECTED to America, this seems to escape most people on how critical this is. Two John Sullivan's concept of "Failed Communities" and not just failed states. Failed communities are how the US will end up looking like Swiss cheese as opposed to the "United" States. Some the highest rates of unemployment in America are along or near the border of Mexico....that is not good!