Don't Call Mexico a 'Failed State'

Those comments echoed what I heard in a recent interview with Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States. When asked if Mexico was a failed state, he bristled.

“It’s a shoe that does not fit,” Sarukhan said. “If you look at Mexico and you look at any criteria of indicators of what a failed state is and isn’t, Mexico is simply nowhere close to that, whether it’s control of its territory, whether its international recognition, the ability to fulfill its international commitment, print currency, raise taxes, there are no massive population migrations within Mexico. There’s a functioning civil society. There’s a functioning press. ... In fact I would form the argument that, because the state is strong, it has had the ability to do what no previous Mexican president has done in the past, which was take the fight to the heart of the drug syndicates.”

One reason for the indignation of Mexican officials is that Americans are, you could say, financing the crisis by consuming enormous quantities of drugs. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other sources, about 90 percent of the cocaine entering the United States comes from Mexico, and our neighbor is also the source for much of the heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine consumed in the United States. Americans are also financing the crisis by providing -- for a profit -- most of the guns that are used to kill soldiers, police officers, and innocent civilians; according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, an estimated 90 percent of the weapons seized in Mexico are from sources in the United States.

So whose failure is this really? Americans and Mexicans share the drugs, the money, and the guns. Why not share the blame?