Editorial: Look to the south for next crisis

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Certainly, the United States does not need another crisis of any kind, foreign or domestic, on its hands. With rising violence in Iraq this week, the president’s recent assessment of Afghanistan as a losing effort and an economy that continues to flounder with daily comparisons to The Great Depression, this country has more than its share of troubling concerns.

It is unavoidable that into this theater of current events enters a crisis in Mexico, where drug cartels have stepped up their assault on police and the military to the point that daily life everywhere in the country is becoming a dangerous proposition. More than 6,000 people were killed last year in these drug wars, and more than 1,000 have died in 2009. As much as 90 percent of the cocaine and most of the heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamines consumed by U.S. drug users either comes from Mexico or travels through it.

At stake for our country is an immigration crisis as Mexican civilians fear for their lives and venture north to find safety and the simple promise of a better life. There is also the prospect of continued expansion of a drug trade that already relies on the consumption of its U.S. customers.

In an annual survey of global counternarcotics efforts, the U.S. State Department last month credibly characterized the violence in Mexico as a threat to U.S. national security.

It is important that the reality of this threat, among all the other challenges that face our country, is not lost on the priority list. Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, has called on the United States to do more to stem the demand for narcotics. In return, we have called on Mexico to clean up its culture of corruption and work harder to make its institutions — from police and courts to education and domestic services — more accountable.

In the short term, the United States may need to be even more involved in protecting its borders and attacking the source of this problem where it originates. The Mexican military is staging an intense battle with the cartels, which do not seem to lack for weapons or and have no conscience using aggression against civilians. It may, at some point, require the U.S. military to share this fight to restore a civilized society to our neighbor to the south.

In the long term, a closer working relationship with Mexico that ultimately helps the country establish a rule of law and accountability for those who break the law, is needed.

Freeport Journal-Standard