Opinion: Mexico needs our help to avoid becoming “failed state”

Nov 6, 2019, 2:56 PM
Mexico murders failed state...
Chihuahua state police officers man a checkpoint in Janos, Chihuahua state, northern Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Drug cartel gunmen ambushed three SUVs along a dirt road, slaughtering six children and three women, all U.S. citizens living in northern Mexico, in a grisly attack that left one vehicle a burned-out, bullet-riddled hulk, authorities said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
(AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

“Mexico is leaning dangerously close to becoming a failed state.”

Is Senator Mike Lee overexaggerating?

Did he misspeak? Here’s what he said on our show today.

When the drug cartels become as big and powerful and as bold and as callous toward human life… this is an open challenge to the sovereign government authority of Mexico. This is one of the reasons why there’s a lot of talk these days about whether Mexico is approaching the point where it could be described as a failed state.

Lee used the phrase “failed state” not once, but twice.

Is Mexico a failed state?

Calling a country a failed state, or intimating that they’re close, should not be done lightly. Failed states include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Putting Mexico in that same category should hush a room instantly; it should grind all conversations to a screeching halt.

If Senator Lee used “failed state” as hyperbole, then shame on him, but District Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Brian Besser, deals with the fallout of Mexico and the drug cartels every day.

“This isn’t your standard criminal organization. These are terrorists and they need to be stopped,” said Besser.

“Sadly, the violence is so extreme,” said Besser, who gets weekly intelligence bulletins, painting a horrific picture of daily violence from the Mexican drug cartels. “Sadly, it doesn’t make the news until something like this happens.”

“This” was the massacre of nine women and children, all United States citizens, in northern Mexico this week.

Violence beyond comprehension

Besser was hesitant to describe in detail the level of violence used by the cartels Wednesday on the Dave and Dujanovic show but did so in an effort to accurately depict the atrocities.

“I routinely see pictures,” said Besser, “of peoples’ heads in coolers, people being skinned alive, people being dismembered and beheaded. This is the type of individuals you’re dealing with.”

Lee said that Congress could identify the cartels as threats to national security and authorize the US president to use military force.

“Mexico’s governing class have been very suspicious of US interference, especially any US military involvement inside of Mexico,” said Lee. “Taking military action within Mexico, it would be very, very difficult to achieve and reach the affirmative blessing of the president of Mexico [Lopez-Obrador] or Mexico’s government, generally.”

Are they terrorists?

Lee said that a possible next step would be for Congress to declare the Mexican drug cartels as terrorists.

Calling them terrorists couldn’t possibly be an over-exaggeration or hyperbole. This level of organized and methodical savagery is foreign to our borders. It has now landed within 100 miles of our country and it must be addressed before it becomes a normal daily headline in the United States.

We’ve perfected how to defeat terrorist organizations. Not by swooping in with the full might of the United States Armed Forces, but by using Special Operations forces to train and empower local militaries. We did it with the Kurds when fighting ISIS, and we’ve done it with the Afghan government when fighting the Taliban.

We can and should help Mexico in a similar way, and Mexico needs to accept our help.

Senator Lee spoke individually to President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. He told me each “were very concerned about the situation and taking it very seriously.”

Lee also spoke to Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Barcena, who pledged the full commitment of the Lopez-Obrador administration toward investigating this and bringing those responsible to justice.

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Opinion: Mexico needs our help to avoid becoming “failed state”