Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mexico is descending into chaos, who would have thunk it?

The news that the U.S. military ranks the collapse of Mexico as a major risk seems to have caught many off-guard. Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air seems to be like many in his surprise at this possibility. I'm not going to pretend I "seriously gamed out what having a failed state on our border would mean" as Mr. Morrissey mentions, but I have raised and at least considered this issue some time ago (although I also will not pretend many people saw it then). This is a post of mine from November 30, 2006 about the growing chaos and possibility of collapse south of our border:

Time to Dust Off War Plan Green

Note: War Plan Green was part of a series of color-coded war plans drawn up by the US military between the World Wars. Green dealt with intervention in Mexico.

Without much media attention, Mexico continues its slide into chaos. Every now and then there will be a story about it, such as yesterday in the Washington Post. It reports that the number of violent deaths in Mexico continues to rise. Although media coverage of this is new, as witnessed by the US travel advisory to Mexico, the violence and chaos are not. With journalists being killed, large cities increasingly ungovernable, gangland shootouts that include RPG’s and machine guns, public officials beheaded, a weak divided government trying to act humanely (this story covers a lot of it), you’d think this would be a story the media would love, but I guess not having the US military to blame is a deal breaker for the media.

At first glance this chaos seems odd. Mexico is a large resource rich nation, with a good level of population growth, Western cultural heritage, and direct access to 1/3 of the world’s economy. The problem is that Mexico has taken almost all of the worst aspects of Western culture, socialism, racism, and xenophobia. Socialism makes it difficult to create wealth and jobs in Mexico. There may be bountiful resources in Mexico but when the government alone owns them they are not efficiently exploited. The xenophobia in Mexico is primarily focused towards the North (though still expect to be greeted by machetes, clubs, and almost no legal rights if you’re from south of Mexico). The xenophobia primarily works with socialism to keep Mexico’s economy inefficient and undercapitalized by keeping out American investors. Better to leave the countries wealth to the whites of Mexico than have the gringos of El Norte “steal it” the people are told and believe. Thus, xenophobia also assists in maintaining Mexico’s terribly racist quasi-apartheid system. Most of the wealth and power in Mexico is concentrated in its white minority that consists of only about 10% of the population. The average income in Mexico is $6,500, for the top 10% it's $24,100, for the bottom 10% $1,040 (from the CIA World Factbook). Essentially 10% live like Western Europeans, 80% like Eastern Europeans, and 10% like Chinese. This places Mexico in the top 10% of most inequitably distributed income countries. These are the seeds of the current growing chaos in Mexico.

To be stable and flourish, Mexico needs to end all three practices, yet the three main parties are focused on only ending socialism (PAN), only ending racism (PRD), or actually reinforcing the old ways (PRI). A growing population can be a blessing if a country has a free market system that can absorb and utilize the extra workers. Since Mexico does not have this, the only safety valve has been to export around 400-500,000 people a year to the hated north. However, even our ability to absorb and utilize this horde is being stressed near, if not past, the breaking point. Add to the witches brew oil and drug cartels and Mexico’s problems only grow. With the oil, the Mexicans can copy the country destroying policies of Hugo Chavez, while the drugs open a route to a Columbia style drug war. In short, don’t expect the chaos to abate anytime in the near future.

This is where War Plan Green comes into play; the Pentagon needs to thoroughly update it. We must make sure we always have enough brigades, even if they are mostly National Guard, ready to move south if the violence becomes severe enough to spill over the border, create a humanitarian crises in northern Mexico, or threaten Mexico’s vital oil exports. We need to have a clear idea of how far we will go, such as only form a security zone in northern Mexico or go all the way to Mexico City, intervene in the chaos or let it rage south of our zone, get involved in the political situation or leave it for the Mexicans to sort out. We further need to plan nationally and encourage affected companies to have their own plans for the economic collapse that unbridled chaos will cause. One of the unfortunate side effects of free trade and globalization is that they have linked the health of our economy to weak unstable economies like Mexico’s (we definitely need more such plans but I doubt any serious ones exist). Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, and Argentina are societal meltdowns that we can largely watch from afar, not so with Mexico. Its size, proximity, and enormous √©migr√© population in the US means the chaos there will inevitably spread here.

It would be nice if we could support them now more peacefully. However, since anti-Americanism was used to define Mexican identity long before even Canada existed, it is next to impossible for us to help in any overt and effective manner. We agreed to a free trade deal with Mexico, and we have taken their surplus population for 30 years running, we've provided an example, there’s not much more we can do to help. This could develop into a very serious problem right in our backyard in the near future so we should at least be prepared. I only hope the President hasn’t allowed his unabashed love of anything from south of the border to cloud his judgment on this issue.