Friday, March 27, 2009

hillary's everest

One of my colleagues walked into my office earlier in the week, and announced: "Hillary must be reading your blog."

That caught me off guard. I thought he was referring to an English friend who periodically reads my posts. But she spells her name properly.

Then I realized he meant The Hillary. The Secretary of State. She who would have been The One. My colleague was referring to my thoughts in
moral handicaps.

The headlines summed up a statement Hillary made during her visit to Mexico this week: "
Clinton: Mexico Violence Fueled By America's 'Insatiable' Demand For Drugs." And, of course, the press, in its desire to sell products, reduced a very subtle statement to one that could have appeared in a balloon over Bluto's head.

Le Dame Clinton is now the voice of the State Department. She no longer speaks with the circumlocution of a senator; she speaks with the circumlocution of a diplomat. And there is a difference.

Despite some of the bloggers of the left, who are holding their hands to their heart, and those of the right, who are tearing their clothes and dousing themselves with ashes, Hillary Clinton did not say that America is at fault for the drug wars. She said the United States shares responsibility with Mexico for the problem.

The distinction is important. She spoke like half of an older married couple who has weathered many a storm. "There is a problem, and I admit that I am part of the problem."

What went unsaid in that diplomatic language was that the other party is at blame, as well. If Mexico had not spent years being unfaithful to the good government model, the drug cartels would not now be in a position to flex their illegally procured grenade launchers.

But being a mature couple, there was no need to indulge in past hurts -- other than to admit they exist. There is little profit in recriminations.

She then went on to congratulate President Calderón for his bravery in taking on the cartels, and promised that the United States would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Mexico in its attempt to defeat the drug warlords.

So, where do we go now? It appears that the Obama Administration is committing itself to being a partner in attempting to crush the drug cartels along the border. Money and equipment will flow to Mexico to beef up the Mexican Army. Intelligence agents from both sides of the border will share information. The United States will try to stop the flow of illegal arms to Mexico.

And I will predict right now that this will simply be another lost war. The historical record is not good. If all this sounds familiar, simply jump in your time machine and set it for 1916. When you arrive in Mexico, look up Pancho Villa and General John Pershing. Ask them how well that little escapade turned out for Mexican-American relations. Chopping off the heads of the hydra will simply result in more hydra.

But it was nice for Our Hillary to actually admit that a government official understands why drugs are heading north and that Americans have a stake in resolving the problem. The true problem, however, still escapes the grasp of American -- and Mexican -- leaders.

For a slightly different take, but one I fully respect, take a look at Peter Rice's
Taking an ego hit for Mexico.


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

You said, "I thought he was referring to an English friend who periodically reads my posts. But she spells her name properly."

Now, now Steve - don't you know that the spelling of one's name is determined by one's parents? "Proper" is in the eyes of the "namer". C'est vrai? We linguists like to think of these differences as "variants". ;-)

Alee' (whose name, given to her by her father, is almost always mispronounced or misspelled)

Steve Cotton said...

Alee' -- Point well taken. But, in this case, I was simply quoting the owner of the Hilary appellation ("Hilary with an l" to quote the infamous Liza). I must confess that I always wanted to have a son and name him "qzxl" -- pronounced "John." This -- and a thousand other reasons -- is why God decided I would never be allowed to procreate.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Not to be melodramatic but is there really an effective, safe, long-term solution out there?

As long as there is demand, there will be a supply from somewhere.

Steve Cotton said...

There is no safe alternative. But there is no safe choice either -- except for people to choose to not use drugs. Legalization will result in more careless behaviors. But prohibition is simply reulting in rich drug lords and dead "war" victims.

Jonna said...

I like to think that a many headed Hydra is easier to deal with than one or two large heads. I think that is the theory that Calderón has and that may actually be working. If you let the cartels become as powerful as they were, they are too rich and too strong to fight. If you keep cutting the heads off thus encouraging internal fights and divisions, it may get worse at first but you have a chance of more control. At least, I hope that's true. It's all a crap shoot though, the path is not clear.

One thing, none of these guys are going to go out and get a legal job so other crimes, robbery, kidnapping, extortion, will get worse the more successful they are at stopping the drug flow.

México has a huge share of the blame in all this but so does the US. I am not convinced that corruption is not also a part of the problem north of the border. With such a concentration of force and money at the border, why is so much getting through? Follow the money.

Steve Cotton said...

Jonna -- Your instincts are correct about local corruption. In my old home county, the local police were on the take to allow drugs to pass through to the more lucrative urban counties. That situation is probably much worse than it was a few decades ago. Money corrupts as easily nob as it does sob.

I also suspect you are correct about the strategy to keep the cartels slimmed down. Porfirio Diaz made it work for his presidency.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
Excellent post today...every bit as good as Don Felipe's post today. I'm thinking, decriminalization may be the most practical course of action (pls notice I didn't say solution)..I'm afraid Corruption and Demand will never end.

Babs said...

Well, all the agencies that needed additional funding - Border Patrol, DEA, Homeland SEcurity etc. are now all standing with broad smiles - cause what my friend with Customs said, has come to fruition. Drugs are big business for these agencies - no drugs, no agencies and no budgets. Trust me, if they wanted to stop the flow of drugs thos AWAKS planes based at Offutt could stop it with their survellience in less then a year.........Yup, it's true. I managed that top secret contract in the 70's!

Steve Cotton said...

Francisco -- Thanks. This truly is a tough issue, just as alcohol prohibition was. We often forget that America's experiment with outlawing alcohol sales did have a positive effect on limiting alcohol abuse -- at a terrible cost to liberty. Policy makers had to make the same decisions then that our leaders should now be making -- rather than ducking responsibility.

Babs -- As good as AWACS is, nothing will ever stop illegal activity along the border. Just read the number of stories in blogs where Americasns and Canadians brag about bringing illicit materials south across the border -- or from Mexico north. Short of closing the bordr to all traffic, drugs are going to head north.

Calypso said...

It has been mentioned in a number of places (albeit not mainstream news) that Hillary embarrassed herself (and probably her Nation to some degree) by not knowing anything about the Virgen of Guadalupe while visiting one of Mexico City's most famous cathedrals. Seems like she needs better advance people.

Steve Cotton said...

Or, perhaps, after living with Bill, she believes the very idea of a virgin is a myth.

Anonymous said...

oh snap!

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- ???