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Aug 28, 2023·edited Aug 28, 2023Author

P.S. Had someone ask on another forum to the effect of: Well Obviously America could do this with enough ruthless commitment, China would just ruthlessly crush these people, likewise look at El Salvador where they just arrested all the gang members. This is clearly a problem with the US just being unwilling to go all out.

Which: No. You misunderstand the scale of the problem.

The US probably could cripple 50% of the domestic US drug trade by 5x-ing the US prison population, which in and of itself might start a hot ethnic conflict on a par with the 1970s (not all Americans use drugs equally, and of those that do they're certainly not equal in their likelihood to get caught)...

The challenge is Hostily imposing this on another country of 126 million, where something like 30-50% of the local government is just pretending to be an ally whilst taking bribes and actively integrating with the cartels.

China has a problem like this, it's called corruption, and Chinese Corruption is absolutely impossible to root out not least because there isn't really a non-corrupt faction and every arrest for corruption is really just backdoor purging by the various factions.

So lets say America goes balls to the wall in Mexico, Full invasion of Iraq. HALF A MILLION US military personnel and then 200-400 thousand continuously once established, This is basically all the US can spare, with 1.4 million active-duty military personnel total, this is everyone but the people actually maintaining the bases and operating the Ships back in the US and around the empire...

The thing is that wasn't enough in Iraq. There was the entire war during the occupation which was only reduced down to a dull roar with the surge.

And this was Iraq with a population one third the Size of Mexico, a Shia Majority, and Kurdish minority that were being empowered by the US intervention against their hated Sunni minority rival who was the one actually fighting the US... And even then it didn't work, and Sunni ISIS arose within a decade, and the country is still divided between militias and local warlords.

You do that in a country with 3x the population, 2x the GDP, several massive cities, and insurgent networks that are basically already adapted to resist US surveillance (these guys have been paranoid about cellphones since the 80s, many cartel bosses simply do not allow cellphones within 200 meters of them, since they assume the NSA is already going full tilt spying on them, and that will be all of them instantly if the ones that don't start getting picked off)...

And also 10 cities with populations over a million where drone strikes basically can't be done, one of which is a ten-million-person mega-city that will just devour an army that tries to occupy it...

Oh ya and it's a permanently profitable trade. So you have to maintain this, for decades... because there's no way you're getting rid of all the corrupt Mexican officials, many of whom are popular and elected, and many of whom are the military... and it will instantly replace itself the second you leave.

RAND had a paper to the effect that The golden ratio for hostile occupations of conquered people is 1 soldier per 50 civilians... that's what was used in Germany after WW2 and Kosovo, America's 2 successful occupations.

America would need 2-3 million to do that in Mexico, or twice the number of people in the entire military... so you'd need a draft, which would be resisted, the resistance of which would be funded by the cartels... which would require further military force and straining of America's already stretched thin police to put down...

You see how this quickly becomes the American state itself being stretched thin, across AMERICA, even if the government magically bites the bullet and goes full force from the start, instead of making the easy call like they did in Vietnam and Iraq and massively under-committing thus letting their enemy organize and create networks, and adapt to the hardest hitting tactics, whilst the politicians are still calling their forces in country "Advisors" and telling the American people they're not at "war", whilst various military planners are actually kind-of secretly hoping something will happen and dozens of Americans will be killed so they can have popular support to actually do something that might be kind of effective...

It'll inevitably be something America sleepwalks backward into with some minor commitment, turning into casualties, turning into bigger commitments, turning into more casualties, turning into outrage, turning into a war, turning into a Quagmire... turning into Vietnam...

Except America would never be able to pull out of this Vietnam because it's RIGHT THERE, and the conflict would immediately be inside America's border.

El Salvador succeeded in its campaign because it's a country that was both unnecessary to the drug trade (so once the margins got high enough the trade could go elsewhere), it had the security force fully committed, it had local political will... and it did vastly less than you're thinking because they took out only 3 specific gangs not the trade itself (strongly suspect the El Salvadorian regime is backdoor participating in the international trade for personal profit just like Noriega, and their policy is just making a deal with the population to not let it affect El Salvador directly... so there was a massive profit motive in El Salvadorian security forces crushing MS-13, they were probably their rivals)

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You paint a terrifying scenario, similar to what I've heard/read from people who definitely know what they're talking about, so this is all the more terrifying because of how plausible it is. Maybe this will be the Black Swan event that initiates hyperinflation of the dollar, and because the GAE's leaders run the country like a hedge fund, where nearly everything the government owns has been mortgaged or sold off and everything the government needs it basically rents, the GAE will quickly find itself unable to pay for anything, including the war effort. I'm sure those cunning Chinese Communist Party bosses are already working on manipulating Mexican and American leaders into this conflict (10% for the big guy!), and they'll be happy to supply the cartels and the Mexican government with everything they need to cause as much damage to the GAE as they can. Definitely this is a sobering addendum to John Carter's post about why America cannot win WWIII (https://barsoom.substack.com/p/why-america-cant-win-world-war-iii).

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> Are American police just so upstanding and incorruptible that they don’t let any crime slide?

Compared to their Mexican counterparts, they are incredibly upstanding. One basic example, when was the last time you were pulled over and asked to give the officer a bribe to avoid a speeding ticket?

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I am reading this as an esoteric argument in favor of invading Mexico. Annihilate everything that exists :)

On a more serious note, though, 2 things:

1.) Americans fighting for their own homes and neighbors will be MUCH more motivated and willing to fight, and therefore likely much more effective than we’ve seen in other recent conflicts.

2.) no mention of divide and conquer? Do you sincerely see “the cartels” as some kind of unimpeachable unified front against the Americans? When their entire revenue stream comes from and depends upon the Americans? Over which scraps they fight each other ruthlessly and stack pyramids of bodies that make their human sacrificing ancestors look like pacifists?

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Very interesting take.

What's the likelihood that we'd get pulled into a hot war anyway, given that the cartels will only continue to expand their operations into the US and all it would take is one unhinged cartel to "ruin it for everyone"? Several outbursts of violence would precipitate a response by the US and it would only escalate from there. As frightening as you make it sound, I don't expect it to stay in Mexico forever, especially as the country continues to look more and more like Mexico.

Also, in my opinion, no serious political discussion of taking on the cartels can happen without the militarization of the border and a hardcore deportation process in place, neither of which has a chance of existing, I realize, but it's something that is an absolute prerequisite.

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> It’d be absolutely insane to kick this hornet’s nest right on the US border…

You think it’s reasonable to just leave a hornet’s nest on our border?

As Machiavelli said: there is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.

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Good read, but the angle from which you approach it is WRONG.

The US does not "want to" control drug trafficking, they ALREADY control it, the Cartels are their EMPLOYEES. (They have used Cartel territory to train mercenaries, they have used Cartel money to overthrow governments, etc.)

What the US REALLY wants to control are Mexico's RESOURCES (Oil, Lithium, etc.). The Cartels are just the PRETEXT, just as Al-Qaeda was to invade Afghanistan.

Why is this happening now?

Because the CURRENT government of Mexico is nationalist and has not allowed advantageous conditions for the US.

So the US needs to change the government of Mexico.

And they are attacking on several fronts, the first is the classic one; propaganda, financing of dark political actors, etc. And since it is failing, they are preparing this "War against the Cartels of Mass Destruction" as plan B.

Plan C would be a full-fledged coup d'état, Ukraine-style.

Plan D would be a full-scale invasion, Iraq-style, and as radical as it may sound, it is not outside the range of possibilities. Mexico is more important to the United States than Ukraine, the Baltic, or the Strait of Malacca.

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Very good article. The only real disagreements I have is that I doubt the far right will be doing any rebelling against the government, especially when an army of foreigners is attacking and killing Americans and I do think tactics like the one you opened the article with would only make America chimp out and turn it into a true war of destruction.

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The issues with naroterrorism and a narco state are not that far from the surface a bit closer to home, around Antwerp and Rotterdam. I think your suggestion of legalization is the only solution, I'd go further and extend it to everything.

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Maybe legalize dilute forms of natural opium as well. Natural opium was legal in much of this country until the late 1800s. We were rubbing tincture of opium on the gums of teething babies and still had a functional society.

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while thought provoking, i completely disagree with the assertion that somehow the same dynamics the Mexican cartel plays with would work in the US. For the primary reason that the collusion between big tech and big government makes that impossible. Facebook knows when you will poop, google has tens of billions of data points they track on nearly every single person globally. This is not the 1980s, where you could be an IRA gunman and can use compartimentalzation and wipes to clean gunpowder residue to bypass a 1980s tech security apparatus. We are talking about groups which can swing modern elections with targeted views, get to voter reminders on their preferred candiate/district demo. Modern technology and intelligence gathering is absolutely mind boggling, it would bet you google already has the data to map out the entire mexican cartel.

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It all depends on if US nationals fight alongside the military and national guard and if local communities pull together in support. Support in logistics, arms, supplies and people. Consider the amount of arms just the population has at their disposal, nevermind the military.

I doubt the average Mexican citizens will fight alongside the cartels. Nor will they willingly support them. Nor does the average Mexican citizen have the arms to person ratio the US nationals do.

And I suspect the Mexican military wont do a damn thing either, out of self preservation.

-Bill Freeman

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Nice story. If cartels started torturing random Americans then Mexico would be nuked to oblivion.

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Good read, but the angle from which you approach it is WRONG.

The US does not "want to" control drug trafficking, they ALREADY control it, the Cartels are their EMPLOYEES. (They have used Cartel territory to train mercenaries, they have used Cartel money to overthrow governments, etc.)

What the US REALLY wants to control are Mexico's RESOURCES (Oil, Lithium, etc.). The Cartels are just the PRETEXT, just as Al-Qaeda was to invade Afghanistan.

Why is this happening now?

Because the CURRENT government of Mexico is nationalist and has not allowed advantageous conditions for the US.

So the US needs to change the government of Mexico.

And they are attacking on several fronts, the first is the classic one; propaganda, financing of dark political actors, etc. And since it is failing, they are preparing this "War against the Cartels of Mass Destruction" as plan B.

Plan C would be a full-fledged coup d'état, Ukraine-style.

Plan D would be a full-scale invasion, Iraq-style, and as radical as it may sound, it is not outside the range of possibilities. Mexico is more important to the United States than Ukraine, the Baltic, or the Strait of Malacca.

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Given the state of today's military, it would have been more appropriate if the story started out with a male marine proposing to another man

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Your argument is excellent. You have intelligently analysed how the system works. But you failed in one respect, in the conclusion: you treated two nation-states as entities, in a "German idealism" line of thought. If there were to be a US military attack, it would be in agreement with Mexican entities to reorganise the market. In other words, it would be an event planned, organised and agreed upon by the parties involved, just as it is in Ukraine. What I'm saying doesn't invalidate your reasoning, but it puts it back on its axis.

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