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Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón initiated a military offensive against his country’s powerful drug cartels in December 2006, some 44,000 people have perished, and the drugs continue to flow. The growing violence has created concerns that Mexico could become a failed state, as U.S. political leaders also worry that the corruption and violence is seeping across the border into the United States. But, as detailed by Ted Galen Carpenter in his compelling new book, The Fire Next Door, the current U.S.-backed ...
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón initiated a military offensive against his country’s powerful drug cartels in December 2006, some 44,000 people have perished, and the drugs continue to flow. The growing violence has created concerns that Mexico could become a failed state, as U.S. political leaders also worry that the corruption and violence is seeping across the border into the United States. But, as detailed by Ted Galen Carpenter in his compelling new book, The Fire Next Door, the current U.S.-backed strategies for trying to stem Mexico’s drug violence have been a disaster. Carpenter details the growing horror overtaking Mexico and makes the case that the only effective strategy is to de-fund the Mexican drug cartels. Boldly conveyed in The Fire Next Door, such a blow requires the U.S., the principal consumer market for illegal drugs, to abandon its failed drug prohibition policy, thereby eliminating the lucrative black-market premium and greatly reducing the financial resources of drug cartels. A refusal to renounce prohibition, demonstrates Carpenter, means that Mexico’s agony will likely worsen and pose even more significant problems for the United States.
Introduction: Mexico's Agony and Washington's Worry 1
1 Cast of Characters: The Mexican Drug Cartels and Their Leaders 19
The Traffickers and Their Groupies
Rogues or Psychopaths?
The Principal Cartels: An Ever-Changing Roster
The Weirdest Group: La Familia
Beyond Gangs: Sophisticated Business Enterprises
2 Calderón's War and the Surge of Casualties 45
Tragedy in Tijuana
Epicenter of the Violence: Ciudad Juárez
Prelude to the Juarez Turmoil: Nuevo Laredo
The Multi-Sided War
Sadism Run Amok
Drug Terrorism in the Digital Age
A Spreading Plague
3 Carnage in Mexico: The Innocent Victims 69
Civilians Who Run Afoul of the Cartels
Attacks on the News Media
The Catholic Church: A New Target?
Just Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
4 "Silver or Lead?" The Sources of the Cartels' Power 87
The Political Clout of the Cartels
The "Silver or Lead?" Dilemma
Pervasive Official Corruption
The Cartels as Major Economic Players
Using the Stick
5 Mexico: A New Failed State? 113
No Region Is Truly Safe
Rising Fear and Its Economic Impact
Refugees Fleeing the Chaos
Signs of Vigilantes
The Military and Human-Rights Abuses
The Corroding Mexican State
6 Calderón's Strategy: A Failing Grade 141
Calderón: Elliot Ness or Ambrose Burnside?
The Decapitation Strategy
Calderón: No Surrender!
No Real Change in Strategy
Spreading the Problem to Mexico's Neighbors
Mexico's Drug War after Calderon
7 Mexico's Corruption and Violence: A Threat to Americans?
The Growing Mexican Cartel Presence in the United States
Corruption Migrating North of the Border
Dangers to Americans in Mexico
Violence Spilling Over the Border: Myth or Reality?
A Climate of Fear
8 Washington's Own War on the Cartels 203
The Mérida Initiative
A Glimpse into a Troubling Reality: the WikiLeaks Documents
Washington's Expanding Role South of the Rio Grande
Counterpoint: Greater U.S. Tolerance for Mexico's Drug Policy Reforms
Washington's Offensive against the Cartels in the United States
9 Scapegoats and Bogus Solutions 219
Scapegoat: Lax U.S. Gun Laws
Bogus Solution: Seal the Border
Bogus Solution: Drastically Reduce Demand for Illegal Drugs in the United States
10 Biting the Bullet: Defunding the Cartels 214
Colombia: Model or Illusion?
Is an Appeasement Policy Feasible in Mexico?
Other "Band-Aid" Solutions
The Legalization Model: Snare or Solution?
Waning Support Around the World for the War on Drugs
Changing Attitudes in the United States Regarding Drug Policy
Biting the Bullet and Helping Our Neighbor