The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The drug war across the U.S.–Mexico border has exacted a tremendous toll, according to Carpenter (Smart Power), a senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. Using government data, the author reveals that in 2009 the Mexican drug cartels earned nearly billion from their trafficking in North America, using their wealth to buy off the Mexican public and to corrupt politicians who dare to stand in their way (those who refuse bribes are assassinated). Comparing war-torn Mexico to a "Latin American Somalia," Carpenter saysthe powerful cartels often donate food, clothing, and medical care to impoverished locals and are seen as "cultural folk heroes." The author balances Mexican assertions that the cartels' weapons are bought from U.S. gun shops with U.S. officials' denial of these charges. The spike in violence has hit farmers, ranchers, innocent civilians—and increasingly Americans, both tourist visitors to Mexico and border police. In the end, this is a devastatingly frank probe of the cartels and their corrosive influence on both sides of the border. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935308881
  • Publisher: Cato Institute
  • Publication date: 10/16/2012
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 963,439
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Galen Carpenter is senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author or editor of 18 books on international affairs.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Foreword xiii

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

War Weariness

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

Notes 267

Index 295

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