Don't Call Mexico a 'Failed State'

Let me tell you one thing about Mexicans. Nothing makes their blood boil faster than having to endure insults from the United States -- especially when it concerns a problem that their neighbor helped create.

Case in point: The Mexican drug war, which has raged for more than two years, cost more than 7,000 lives, and resulted in a level of violence that Mexico hasn’t seen in decades. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon effectively declared war on the cartels -- on the very day he took office in December 2006 -- these multi-million dollar criminal enterprises have been fighting back. Soldiers have been captured and beheaded, and hundreds of police officers and government officials have been killed. Whole communities have been terrorized, as when a grenade was lobbed into a crowd during a holiday festival in, not coincidentally, Calderon’s home state.

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that the violence had not spread into the United States. Napolitano apparently forgot about Texas; just a few days earlier, Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw told a committee of the state legislature that violence from the drug cartels had indeed spilled into Texas. “No question about it,” McCraw said. Napolitano also forgot about her own state of Arizona; the former governor is presumably aware that Phoenix has become the nation’s kidnapping capital, in large part because of spillover violence from Mexico.

Now the level of violence has some academics and government officials in the United States eager to declare Mexico a failed state. That’s the chatter from nativists on cable television and talk radio, and it picked up steam recently when the Pentagon put out a report warning that Mexico -- along with Pakistan, no less -- could face a “rapid and sudden” collapse.

Every time they so much as hear the phrase, “failed state,” Mexican officials go loco. Last week, Calderon rejected the idea that the Mexican government has lost control to the drug cartels,insisting that his administration has not “lost any part — any single part — of the Mexican territory” to drug traffickers. Then he pointed the finger north and said the United States should worry more how much control it has over its own law enforcement agencies, which Calderon insisted have been corrupted. The Mexican president also vowed to win the drug war by the end of his term in 2012.