• Let's Invade Mexico!

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    Almost
    forever, the record for stupidity was held by Lumbo, a Cambrian
    trilobyte born to an early family of retarded trilobites. Lumbo
    also had Down’s Syndrome. It ws an unbeatable combination.
    Nobody and nothing was as slow as Lumbo. It was thought that he
    would hold the record for all time, but then came the governor of
    Texas, Rick Perry. He thinks it might be a good idea to invade
    Mexico
    .

    Lumbo doesn’t
    come close.

    The governor
    thinks, barely, that such a martial lunge might help rid Mexico
    of drugs, or do something about immigration. He thinks it should
    perhaps be done with the permission of the Mexican government. It
    is my hope that Washington will not adopt the governor’s idea,
    but, given America’s penchant for lurching into catastriphic
    wars, perhaps we should examine the notion for advisability.

    The governor’s
    wise plan begins by embodying the mistake the Pentagon always makes
    when it sets out to lose a war, which seems to be every time it
    holds a war. He, and it, begin by having no faint grasp of the people
    to be invaded, or of people at all.

    Soldiers have
    difficulty with the notion of people, of citizens, of populations,
    who are mere impediments to the proper management of a swell war.
    The military longs for mechanized battle in which men in machines
    destroy other men in other machines, tank against tank, fighter
    plane against fighter plane, in a spirit of simple-minded adolescentt
    romanticism. You know, battle-scarred tanks growling across the
    Algerian desert, against a flaming red sunset burning out to night,
    desert wind blowing scarves of heroic etc. People don’t figure
    in this dream, which is why the results are so regularly dismal.

    Now, some practical
    considerations, a kind traditionally of little interest to military
    men:

    You don’t
    just sort of invade Mexico as an abstraction. You have to invade
    an actual part of it. Which?

    Well, you could
    try the cities thick with narcos: Tijuana, Juarez, Culiacan, Ciudad
    Victoria, all the gang. Good idea, that. As any intelligent officer
    will tell you – one was reported in Anhalt-Zerbst in 1654,
    but this was never confirmed – fighting in cities is not a
    lot of fun. The narcos have AKs and RPGs. They are expert at urban
    ambushes. They know the cities. They speak the language. They can
    fade into the population. Consequently frustrated Gis, quickly coming
    to view the population as subhuman, will begin killing people at
    random and…have we seen this before?

    As an equally
    unwise plan, the good governor might advocate sending troops after
    the narcos in the wild, in the Sierra Madre Occidental, up around
    Copper Canyon, the Barranca del Cobre. Have you seen the
    barranca country? I have, on the Chihuahua Pacific railway
    from Los Mochis to Chihuahua. It is like Afghanistan, but with difficult
    terrain and tree cover. Roads are few. There are canyons in which
    you could drop the Grand Canyon and have trouble finding it the
    next day. Did I mention AKs and RPGs? Trees? Rocks? Things to hide
    behind?

    What the Pentaloons
    don’t understand, being armed Boy Scouts who believe their
    own propaganda – “Ooo-rah! Yes sir! Yes sir! Can do, sir!”
    is that they usually can’t. The chief reason is that people
    really, really do not like American soldiers invading their countries,
    wrecking cities and killing their children. The military, which
    thinks at right angles, cannot wrap its mind around this difficult
    thought. Thus Americans invariably begin by thinking, “We are
    right. We are for democracy. We are trying to help these people.
    Therefore they will love us.”

    The second
    step to disaster is to set up a puppet government, by purchase or
    intimidation, declare it an ally, and assert that America is helping
    the legitimate government of a beloved fellow nation. Think Cambodia,
    Laos, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and note that the Governor
    Perry says he wants to invade "with Mexico’s permission,”
    which means puppetizing the government. Of course no government
    that supports invaders who kill Pablo’s three-year-old and
    her dog is going to enjoy a whole lot of legitimacy.

    The approach
    doesn’t work, this being regarded as a minor defect by military
    minds. It’s the glory of the thing, the swoosh and bang and
    zowwee that count, not practical concerns like winning. But…does
    it seem salient to you that in all of our hobbyist wars, our locals – our
    Khmers, our Viets, our Afghans, and so on – fight poorly, while
    our enemies are passionate and stubborn? Note that after ten years
    our Afghan soldiers aren’t ready and disappear with their rifles,
    the Pakis collaborate with the Taliban and hate us, and the Iraqi
    police are permanently incapable.

    Why might this
    be? Because, when you force part of a country to kill the other
    part, not too much enthusiasm ensues.

    An essential
    ingredient in our wars is underestimation of the enemy, reflecting
    a general American contempt for everybody else. Cheese-eating surrender
    monkeys, that sort of thing. The Viet Cong were rice-propelled paddy
    maggots who didn’t have a single B-52. Iraq would be a cake
    walk, the Afghans were louse-ridden towel-headed farmers, and so
    on.

    Still, it is
    perhaps worth noting that as the US army lowers recruiting standards
    to reflect flabby American males, the Mexicans work construction.
    In the barranca country you find hard and hardy people, Tarahumaras
    and tough farmers who have trucks now thanks to the marijuana crop.
    Soft they are not. Mexicans have fought long and bloody wars –
    the Revolution, the Cristero War, the current drug wars in which
    29,000 have died since 2006 in armed conflict (which suggests that
    there are a whole lot of them and not afraid to fight, doesn’t it?).
    Sound like Afghans?

    Further: Mexicans,
    all Mexicans, are violently hostile to any invasion, on any terms
    at all, by the US. They’ve been down that trail before. I mentioned
    the governor’s idea to my (Mexican) wife. I’ve never seen
    her face so hard. This is universal. If you want to see a united
    Mexico, send the Gis.

    The Mexicans
    are not as reliably hostile to the traffic in drugs, or to the traffickers,
    as Washington would like. The common attitude is that if the gringos
    don’t want drugs, why do they buy them? Why is it Mexico’s
    problem? The traffic has brought relative prosperity to places formerly
    without electricity. In a country not enamored of a corrupt government,
    the narcos not infrequently are seen as Robin Hoods. Various bands
    make a living singing narcocorridos,
    songs glorifying the traffoclers: Los
    Tigres del Norte
    , Los Tucanes de Tijuana, La
    Sombra Norteña
    .

    Here we come
    to the final error of American military interventions: the belief
    that everybody wants to be like America, that they want democracy
    or are capable of it, that we just have to show them how we want
    them to live and they will gratefully do it. Ah, fond hope. We are
    going to make Afghanistan into a democracy, an idea as probable
    as making a frog into a television set. In Afghanistan the military
    invaded Marjuh and said it was going to impose a “government
    in a box,” whereupon an Afghan town would be just like a village
    in Iowa. Oh sure. Any day now. And in Mexico the Mérida Initiative
    is going to produce honest police and judges, whereupon Mexico will
    resemble Switzerland.

    Oh god. Lumbo
    is back. Some good advice to the Joint Chiefs: Stay the hell out.

    November
    27, 2010

    Fred Reed
    is author of Nekkid
    in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well
    and A
    Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be
    . His latest
    book is Curmudgeing
    Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle
    . Visit
    his blog.

    The
    Best of Fred Reed


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