View Full Version : The war we chose to ignore & and RFIs

02-12-2009, 08:31 PM
I have posted this basic message in a few places to try and get different ideas from folks.

RFI #1 is:
Is there a ethnic/group self-identification side to the war in Mexico that we're not seeing?

Yugoslavia had 3 official languages.
Mexico has over 60.

I know that there are over 180 total langages "spoken" in Mexico, but that only about 5 of them are significant.

But how significant? Since we tend to learn about other folks social and ethnic composition the hard way....is anybody thinking about this? Again- we tend to learn the hard way and then to unlearn as fast as we can.

The Westies (an NYC gang) required you be Irish, or from the Westside. The mafia was more open, but still ethnically/regionally based. I'd be surprised if there is not a simmilar dynamic in Mexico. You start "a family business" with people you know and trust....like La Familia.

RFI #2: Any ideas about how the Mexican mid-term elections will impact the level of violence? My personal read is the election cycle will be a violent referendum on the Government. Any ideas?

My soap box:

The war in Mexico is being "fought" here in the US and the only folks covering it - the LA Times.:confused: The LA Times is doing a good job, but the rest of the media (Glen Beck is the recent exception) appears to be working hard to ignore the war on our boarder. Why?

A different soap box: (on a different subject): when I was at the Army FA Advanced Course in 1998 (dating myself) there was a Brazilian Officer who had seen combat primarily in San Palo, Rio, and in the jungle war zone along the boarder. His "war" was more like the movie "Elite Squad": http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/f...ok-Brazil.html
While the movie is baised, it is worth getting it.

To quote the article in the Telegraph:
"For, as lurid and far-fetched as Elite Squad seems, it pales beside reality. A recent report by Amnesty International found that last year police killed at least 1,260 people in the state of Rio de Janeiro alone - and that's just according to official figures."

I know the folks on SWJ know the difference between Brazil and Mexico, I'm just offering the movie as something to sitimulate discussion: Is this what we're seeing in Mexico?

I welcome any response. Thanks for your time.

02-12-2009, 08:51 PM
Is the threat of transnational gangs, narco-terrorist, and rising violence levels important, relevant, and one that should be discussed from town hall meetings to the halls of Congress? Most definitely

Is this topic currently ignored by the press and average citizen more concerned with the financial crisis? Absolutely unless they are immediately affected by the violence

The issue is one of many complex, wicked problems that possibly threaten the security and future of the US. The risk you run when trying to describe the potential danger is walking the fine line between informing the uniformed and sounding alarmist.

This risk is nothing new to our nation: look at the buildup to WWI, WWII, the events in Vietnam to some degree, and the current lack of interest in the war in Iraq. The ambivalence and often willful ignorance of our nation is one of traits, for better or worse.

That’s why I was initially shocked by the events in Salinas, CA. I grew up in both rural and suburbia North Carolina. I redeployed back from my third trip from Iraq to find a community that resembled in a smaller version the violence overseas.

I would suggest that the striking difference between the drug war and COIN is the ideology, beliefs, and value systems driving the enemy actors. The drug lords are concerned about profit not taking over a state so they will strive to keep their levels of violence just below the radar of provoking too much attention. On the other hand, insurgents want to introduce an alternative form of governance.



02-12-2009, 10:16 PM
According to Robert McCaa, the total "demographic cost" during the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920 was approximately 2.1 million people. (McCaa, Robert.“Missing Millions: The Demographic Costs of the Mexican Revolution.” Mexican Studies Vol. 19, Iss. 2 (2003): 367-400.18 October)(wikkipedia is the start point for this data - I checked the source)

While this # might be wrong/"off" - it is an eye opener.

2.1 pax out of a pop of that is estimated to have been about 20 million.

When we're talking about a "war in Mexico" and in Mexican communities in the US - it is good to keep those numbers in mind.

2.1 million and we hardly even remember it except for the Zimmerman Telegram and Pershing's ride down south.

Hard to see how this does not involve us both in Mexico and in contested areas in the US.

Concur with the alarmist thing. Being a "premature anti-facisit" can be a drag in some circles - LOL!

Ref the RFIs: is anybody in Monterey talking about the ethnic/group self-identification parts of this? Is this a non-factor?

Since the language law was passed in 2002 giving Mexico 60+ official languages it looks like the Mexicans think it is a valid question - or why pass the law?

02-12-2009, 10:24 PM
There is an interesting article on Mexican issues: http://bellum.stanfordreview.org/?p=99 and note the link to a US Army report: http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/Recruitment-of-Assassins-by-Mexican-Drug-Cartels.pdf (which on a quick read is puzzling me as to whether signs of such activity appear elswhere, so may ask others).

Thanks to Tristanabbey

02-12-2009, 10:31 PM
Thanks- great links.

02-12-2009, 10:48 PM
Ref MikeF's post above: I think we will find out soon. The narco terrorists in Mexico are operating at SQD and PLT level and "escorting" drugs into the US with simmilar sized formations.

They have passed the point of low-level violence - they have carved out contested areas in Mexico, and from your posts, in the US.

So what happens with the Mexican elections next summer? Will they turn that cash and combat power into votes or influence? Hard to see them not trying.

02-13-2009, 08:09 PM
So what happens with the Mexican elections next summer? Will they turn that cash and combat power into votes or influence? Hard to see them not trying.
Maybe, but why not just buy-off whoever wins? That would be cheaper.

Also, what makes you think the drug trade is the tail wagging the political dog, and not vice versa?

I know the folks on SWJ know the difference between Brazil and Mexico, I'm just offering the movie as something to sitimulate discussion: Is this what we're seeing in Mexico?
I watched Elite Squad after it was recommended John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus in their COIN Graduate Seminar (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6491). It is a fantastic movie, what did you find biased about it? There is a ongoing thread on Brazil and the use of COIN tactics in policing (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=6539). What similarities and differences do you see between what is happening in Brazil and Mexico? I know its on your mind, we'll go from there.

I am not sure the term narcoterrorist is appropriate in reference Mexican DTO's at the present. Criminal Insurgency or Narco-Insurgency is the term frequently used, not out of political correctness, but rather the definitions of terrorism and insurgency in the nomenclature.

02-14-2009, 11:30 PM
I agree with you about buying off the politicians - but the Mexican Presidential term is 6 years. President Calderon appears to be fully committed to fighting the war for the next 3+ years. The mid-term elections are the only way for the citizens (and groups!) to "vote on the war". It is a risk to attempt to buy off a guy who just won by supporting Calderon - it is probably less risky to run your own man to start with.

All that said there are two major ways to influence the election: money and violence. I think the Gov will try to get the "numbers" moving downward by the end of this summer as part of the lead up to the elections. Will the narco-insurgents seek to maintain or increase the level of violence? Will the narco-insurgents attack pro government politicians? I think the answer to both questions is yes. But I do not have much data. Any ideas?

Ref the bias over "Elite Squad": the director, Padilha, intended the film to be part of his indictment of Brazil (like Bus 174 - also worth a few min to watch from what I hear).

Quote from Padilha (the director in http://www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/feature.php?id=552)
"The whole thing is going on against the backdrop of that operation which basically was, the Pope is coming to Rio, the Pope wants to sleep close to a slum, at the bishop's house, the Pope is going to wake up to the sound of machine guns and we cannot let that happen – therefore let's go and raid the favela next to the place the Pope wants to sleep and kill the drug dealers there. People basically killed 35 people, so the Pope could sleep one night in Rio – it happened. So I set the whole film against the background of this absurd thing, so that people would know that everything was real but it was absurd."

As for parts of Mexico ending up looking like Brazil as depicted in "Elite Squad" we're probably there. The question is that the best we can hope for in Mexico? The Rio depicted in "Elite Squad" looks something like the Rome shown by HBO last year - it is stability of a sort. Large "no-go" zones with para-military police conducting limited kill or capture incursions. So what does that mean for the US? Is Mexico already there?

What do we do? If the war in Mexico becomes exponetially more violent in the lead up to the elections - well what then?

And how does it play out here in the US?

How's this for food for thought: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/06/local/me-bratton6

I agree with LAPD Chief Bratton - the numbers do not add up - but his IO campaign is not working.

03-12-2009, 01:02 AM
I'd like to note that my security concerns about the War in Mexico are just that - security concerns. If this was happening in Quebec I'd also be concerned.

Further, my questions about the role of group self-identification and ethnicity in the Mexico are driven by my experiences in Iraq dealing with a society that fractured along ethnic and religious lines. I believe these are legitimate concerns and questions especially given our experiences in Somalia, Yugoslavia, and Kosovo. In each of these cases self-identification, linguistic heritage, religion, and ethnicity, played a major role in the conflict – as they still do in Afghanistan today.