Americans need to read the news carefully to understand Obama's idea of border security. His strategy is not just ineffectual, or based entirely on Democratic Party political considerations. The President's goals also include response to a nonexistent problem that has been made an issue by the Mexican government. One new phrase provides the clue: "gunrunner teams".
"President Barack Obama's $600 million border security plan seems to have it all: More than 1,000 agents, seven gunrunner teams, five FBI task forces and more prosecutors and immigration judges.”AP NewsBreak: Courts need $40M for border plan, June 29, 2010"Gunrunner teams"—say what?
An article from southern Arizona is more explanatory:
“[Presidential assistant John] Brennan told the governor the additional funding will help pay for 500 more Border Patrol agents for Arizona as well as 50 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, along with additional Department of Justice assets to include Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm Gunrunner Teams, which will monitor the movement of weapons into Mexico, and special FBI squads." [National Guard to send 524 to Arizona border, by Bill Hess, Sierra Vista Herald, June 29, 2010]Such neighborly projects do not come cheap. The Inspector General's Interim Review of ATF's Project Gunrunner noted: "In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) [i.e. stimulus funds] and in fiscal year (FY) 2009 appropriations, ATF received $21.9 million in funding to support and expand Project Gunrunner."
A big part of the backstory here is Mexico Presidente Calderon's efforts to blame America for his country's crime anarchy by attacking our Constitutional right to firearms. Calderon alleges that guns shipped from this country are fueling Mexican violence. He pushed this false charge at length during his rude state visit to Washington in May.
By making the argument that border anarchy is a "shared" guilt, Calderon can mooch more money from weak-minded Washington politicians—like the generous trough of cash and materiel supplied by the Merida Initiative which was initiated by George W. Bush.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is an enabler on this issue:
“'Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade,' she said en route to Mexico City, Mexico, according to pool reports.Of course, Clinton is not talking about the obvious solution: drug legalization.
“'Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians. So, yes, I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.'” [U.S. shares blame for Mexico drug violence, Clinton says, CNN, March 26, 2009
The stellar nature of the group illustrated Washington's seriousness. It included Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Director Michelle Leonhart.
At the meeting, Secretary Clinton promised to expand the drug war beyond military aspects and offered to aid impoverished border towns. She declared: "The narcotics cartels are waging war on civil society," [Mexico, U.S. Expand Drug War Beyond Military to Social Efforts, By Viola Gienger, Business Week, March 24 2010]
But the “shared guilt” notion—on which this deference to corrupt Mexico, so typical of diplomats, is based—is fundamentally wrong. Fox News reported last year that only a small fraction of firearms recovered from Mexican drug gangs come from the United States:
"The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.(Watch the video version, Fox Report: Mexican guns not from US.):
“What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, 'is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.'
“But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S….
“So why would the Mexican drug cartels, which last year grossed between $17 billion and $38 billion, bother buying single-shot rifles, and force thousands of unknown 'straw' buyers in the U.S. through a government background check, when they can buy boatloads of fully automatic M-16s and assault rifles from China, Israel or South Africa? "
The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S., By William La Jeunesse & Maxim Lott, Fox News, April 4, 2009
A small handful of US guns make their way to Mexico—but that's not the route by which billionaire cartels arm their soldiers. A container ship full of guns and RPGs from China is easy enough for drug bosses to order up.
So the question remains: Why is Washington wasting resources on a non-problem like guns from America headed south when there are plenty of genuine headaches?
The big brains must believe that supporting Calderon is vital to prevent a full-tilt narco state, Mexico meltdown and millions of Mexicans making a run for the border.
Even so, this degree of falsehood is extreme even for Washington. The government is spending nearly $22 million yearly to continue a known charade—to what end? To humor mewling Mexico?
There are plenty of Mexican agents in that locale already, e.g. Grupo Beta and regular police. Why does America have to be responsible for policing the border going both ways?
The several-act drama starring guns is not unique. Another recent example of appeasement masquerading as diplomacy: Washington holding back on an official report showing Mexico to be even more culpable in hard drugs:
"WASHINGTON—In an apparent effort to minimize diplomatic turbulence with the Mexican government, the Obama administration has been delaying for weeks the release of a Justice Department report that describes a "high and increasing" availability of methamphetamine mainly because of large-scale drug production in Mexico. "Hoping that corrupt Mexico might shape up in response to American groveling is a losing bet. Evidence indicates that Calderon is losing his war against organized crime. The bodies of cartel soldiers and innocent bystanders continue to accumulate at an alarming rate. For example, last year the city of Juarez alone recorded 2600 drug-related murders.
(U.S. Delays Release of Report Tying Meth to Mexico, By Charlie Savage and Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, June 8, 2010)
Plus, democracy itself (which has never been exactly robust in Mexico) is under assault by the increased assassinations of politicians, as reported by the Dallas Morning News: Killing of Mexican governor front-runner stirs concern for democratic process. [By Alfredo Corchado, June 29, 2010] The worsening violence is scaring people away from the polls because of an atmosphere where even major candidates are not safe from assassination. The candidates are becoming more fearful as well, and are campaigning less openly. Civic life is diminished.
According to the Dallas Morning News, an anonymous American official opined that the cartels are now using assassinations to control the political process more directly: "Targeting politicians in Mexico is not new, but this is a disturbing sign that this will happen on a more systematic level."
The Obama bunch is clearly aware that bad things are happening below the Rio Grande. But their actions are wrong-headed, and the President is behaving like a globalized pacifist (where he has strong aptitude anyway) to avoid the hard slog of border defense.
Ceding territory to drug cartels (as has already happened in Arizona) is only the most recent indicator that far more border enforcement is required. The warnings to Americans now posted on public land in southern Arizona show that Mexican organized crime is moving into this country far more forcefully than before.
But to the Obama administration, national security is never the highest goal; political gain is. The President believes that holding the border hostage to amnesty for millions of future Marxican Democrat voters is more important than ending preventable alien violence.
President Obama characterized Mexico as a "partner" more than a dozen times in his welcoming speech to Calderon in May. But actual partnership behavior from our southern neighbor is rare, if not invisible.
What's wrong with this picture?
Everything. The Founders didn't create a great country for the purpose of supplying free police services for unruly neighbors while neglecting our own security. We have the most powerful military in the history of the world, yet politicians refuse to use it to protect our home from real enemies near and far.
Mexico is collapsing under its culture of crime and corruption. America can't fix it, or even help very much.
Mexico has not been our friend even in the best of times. Worsening crime and violence is the predictable future coming across the border until Washington gets serious about enforcement.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org (recently remodeled and bloggified!) and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. Her Mexico fantasies include a moat along the border filled with enormous alligators.