Archive for foreign affairs

Bobbing And Weaving Around The Impact of Globalization on Income and Employment

Posted in Cryptojournalism, economics with tags on August 23, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

It has always been a dream of mine to own a cash only business.  For a person of my ilk caliber, that would mean a laundromat or a hair salon.  IF I were to own a hair salon, it would be called Bob and Weave.  It would be boxing themed (in case you missed it there in the title).  Like a homeless man told me, a play on words is worth two in the bush.  Too right, sir.

Ok, enough juvenile foolishness.  We’ve got another Foreign Affairs article today.  “The Impact of Globalization on Income and Employment,” by Michael Spence is the most recent farcical article from the esteemed publication.  So let’s get into this piece, see if we can pull any interesting bits from this dry white paper.

Please check your coat and enjoy deception, baby

I sincerely encourage everyone reading to click the link above to the actual article.  Remember, most of cryptojournalism is taking things out of context and ferreting out bullshit.  Do not take this as an honest interpretation.  It’s cryptojournalism, so get your salt shakers ready.

Please note, this was published before the most recent tanking of the stock exchange.  But since at least 5 of my 6 readers are too poor to own stock, that’s a moot point.  Jumping right in:

By relocating some parts of international supply chains, globalization has been affecting the price of goods, job patterns, and wages almost everywhere. It is changing the structure of individual economies in ways that affect different groups within those countries differently. In the advanced economies, it is redistributing employment opportunities and incomes.

C’mere son, sit on grandpa’s lap as he tells a tale about the haves and the have nots.  If you’re a little fuzzy with the paragraph above, it’s smoothly describing globalization as a vehicle for class warfare.  Those ‘different’ groups of people are (spoiler alert) rich and poor.  This is not very promising.

On the bright side, at least Spence is spot on concerning redistribution.  He’d only be better off declaring it’s time for plebes to take up driving a gypsy cab, or webcamming for the ladies.  I know, I know, the women reading this are shaking their heads.  Webcamming?  Yes, webcamming.  Hey, when the economy consists of pushing paper at a financial institute, working in the vast service sector or being unemployed, why not venture into a liquid market, safe (for now) from the IRS.  Setting up a web cam, PayPal account and mortgaging your dignity probably sounds pretty good to some people these days.  Especially if you can’t get into the paper pushing racket.

Moving right along….

the structural evolution of the global economy today and its effects on the U.S. economy mean that, for the first time, growth and employment in the United States are starting to diverge.

Ahem, this is the FIRST time for a divergence of growth and employment?  After a decade of flat growth for wages?  The Economics Policy Institute has a nifty article FROM 2007?!!? touting how growth (strictly in wages) has been flat for 95% of Americans since the turn of the century.  Take a look for yourself.  It’s astounding that now, today, in the year 2011, we’re actually starting to see a divergence.  I’m just going to call bullshit and trudge ahead.

Spence continues on:

major emerging economies are becoming more competitive in areas in which the U.S. economy has historically been
dominant, such as the design and manufacture of semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and information technology services.

We’ve still got Mariah Carey, and nobody can take her away from us.

Mariah Carey?

Yes, Mariah Carey.  Put it this way: if you’re traveling abroad around the holiday season, you’re probably going to hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at some point on your journey.

In other words, we’ve still got entertainment.  It’s our most reliable export: culture.  That’s not going to change anytime soon.

Entertainment and culture are not real brick and mortar industries, though.  Lucrative, yes.  But not lucrative in a meaningful way.  If that makes sense.

Hey, I’m grasping for something we export.  Basketball, movies, Beyoncé…..uh, financial disarray and porno spoofs.  All entertaining, yes.  Not always necessary.

An appropriate metaphor for contemporary America

We’ve become so complacent our pornographers aren’t even trying.  Choosing the above graphic was tough, since there are so many shitty spoofs to choose.  Enough of that smut, we have important issues to discuss.

Before I get into this next blurb, allow a short rant.  Writers and journalists of all stripes do an admirable job of pointing out the myriad problems surrounding whatever topic/issue they’re covering, but rarely have answers.  Case in point:

…job opportunities in the United States are shifting away from the sectors that are experiencing the most growth and to those that are experiencing less.The result is growing disparities in income and employment across the U.S. economy, with highly educated workers enjoying more opportunities and workers with less education facing declining employment prospects and stagnant incomes.The U.S. government must urgently develop a long-term policy to address these distributional effects and their structural underpinnings and restore competitiveness and growth to the U.S. economy.

Radical.  There’s a problem.  “Distributional effects and their structural underpinnings” is the problem, but what’s the solution?

There are two possible solutions, neither of which is elaborated upon: a tax hike on that segment of the populace on the winning end of that income disparity OR a wholesale devaluing of the dollar.  One could contend through quantitative easing we’re seeing that devaluing (gold bugs would tend to agree), but this is not addressed.

What good is an article on income and employment issues without solutions?  Not bloody much.

Don’t fret.  That will just make you think about things.  And who likes thinking?

At least Mr. Spence gives some real information on the U.S. economy, specifically how it has grown over the last two decades:

Between 1990 and 2008, the number of employed workers in the United States grew from about 122 million to about 149 million. Of the roughly 27 million jobs created during that period, 98 percent were in the so-called nontradable sector of the economy, the sector that produces goods and services that must be consumed domestically.

Wow, what a buzzkill.  98 percent of the jobs created since ’90 are (no offense to workers nationwide) useless outside the United States.  Now, watch this nifty trick of the tongue:

The retail, construction, and hotel and restaurant industries also contributed significantly to job growth.

He forgot to mention the reality television industry.

I’m going to go out on a limb and call that the service industry.  Why the author is compelled to parse the service biz into specific components is beyond me, unless it sounds better to perceive these things as different.  They’re not.  They’re people serving other people.

Don’t worry, folks.  The service sector is not the only part of the economy that’s grown:

Employment is growing, however, in other parts of the tradable sector-most prominently, finance, computer design and engineering, and top management at multinational enterprises.

All you’ve got to do is ditch that shitty job at Zumiez and become a top manager at a multinational enterprise.  No big whoop.  Ok, maybe it’s a medium whoop.

Ready for a truth bomb dropped on your head?  If you’ve got a bomb shelter, I’d advise taking your laptop down there before reading this next passage:

the range of employment opportunities available in the tradable sector is declining, which is limiting choices for U.S. workers in the middle-income bracket.

And there it is, laid bare for all to see.  Like Lenin’s body.  You’re a worker in the middle-income bracket in America?  Well, soon you’ll be a copper thief.  Or a gypsy cab.  Or doing the aforementioned webcamming.  Because your choices are limited.  I’m only speaking slightly with the slightest twinge of hyperbole.

As a random (and generally unread) blog, I’ve got to go fishing for page views.  Honestly, who WANTS to read something from a cryptojournalist?  So I try to link to articles featured on The Drudge Report.  And boy, Matt Drudge loves articles about copper theft.  It’s like a trend or something.  For criminals.

I’m beginning to see a trend emerging in this article.  Most everyone is getting crunched.  Except the highly skilled or morally bankrupt financial wizards.  I imagine Mr. Spence chuckling as he actually states things clearly:

The overall picture is clear: employment opportunities and incomes are high, and rising, for the highly educated people at the upper end of the tradable sector of the U.S. economy, but they are diminishing at the lower end. And there is every reason to believe that these trends will continue.

Sorry to burst the bubble of everyone reading this with a Masters Degree, but he’s not talking about you.  Highly educated people get their MBA, not a teaching degree.  They study at MIT and Harvard, not University of Phoenix or Hamburger University.

Sorry, thought I had a zippy graphic for Hamburger University.

Oh. There it is

This wouldn’t be cryptojournalism if I did not take umbrage with some of what Spence lays out in this article.  Look again at that last quote above.  It’s misleading, but it’s so soft and subtle that it’s very easy to gloss over.  Specifically, his use of ‘at the lower end’ needs to read ‘everyone else.’  I’m at a loss for a zinger, so let me hand this one off to Maude Lebowski.

Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey

With our SAT word of the day out of the way, we can get back to the cruel joke education plays in the American economy:

The highly educated, and only them, are enjoying more job opportunities and higher incomes.

Well, the highly educated, and the Kardashian Klan.  Mr. Spence keeps forgetting the reality stars who’ve made it big.  I cannot overstate that a Masters Degree DOES NOT QUALIFY one as ‘highly educated.’  Post graduate is the game here, which in stunning turn of events, costs money to acquire.  Yup, you’ve just been zung.

Now let’s touch on one of my favorite aspects of cryptojournalism, which is calling out misleading qualifiers:

[the global economy’s structural evolution]…is creating a distributional problem in the advanced economies.  Not everyone is gaining in those countries, and some may be losing.

Some, not most.  May be, not are.  Sleight of hand, not lying.  I think you see my point.  It gets better:

Declining employment opportunities feel real and immediate; the rise in real incomes brought by lower prices does not.

Lower prices?  Where?  In Venezuela?  I guess that the 15% rise in food costs the World Bank reports took place between October 2010 and January 2011 is poppycock.  Fuck, even the United Nations admits a 39% bump in food costs from June 2010 to June of this year.  In which fantasy realm does the author of this article reside?  Asgard?  Big Titty Heaven from South Park?  Where can I buy a slice of pizza for $1.25?

If you’re going to deceive, try a lie that’s not so easily refuted.

This passage is what I like to consider cute, in a ruthlessly cutthroat sort of way.  It’s a bit of truth with some deception, baby:

according to recent surveys, a substantial number of Americans believe that their children will have fewer opportunities than they have had.  The slow recovery from the recent economic crisis may be affecting these perceptions, which means that they might dissipate as the situation improves and growth returns. But the longterm structural evolution of the U.S. and global economies suggests that distributional issues will remain.

We’ve already shown that growth, well, didn’t grow for the overwhelming majority of Americans.  But don’t fret.  As soon as these stupid perceptions dissipate, it’ll be back.  And better than ever!

Don’t be fatuous, Michael.

At least he has the nerve to couple that with the factual statement that people believe their children are being shafted.

So, uh, what exactly is crippling the economy in slow motion?  It’s not technology or multinationals, that’s for fucking sure:

If giving technology as the preferred explanation for the U.S. economy’s distributional problems is a way to ignore the structural changes of the global economy, invoking multinational companies (mncs) as the preferred explanation is a way to overstate their impact. Mncs are said to underpay and otherwise exploit poor people in developing countries, exporting jobs that should have stayed in the United States.

I hope this paragraph is dripping with sarcasm, and it’s jut lost in translation from statement to print.  For one, shrinking multinational companies into an acronym is simply adorable.  I’m also fairly certain there should be air quotation marks around “said to underpay and otherwise exploit poor people in developing countries,” but that’s just a hunch.

MNCs are 'said' to 'underpay' and 'exploit' people living in a van down by the river

Now here’s something which is so painfully obvious, it almost hurts to type:

In short, companies’ private interest (profit) and the public’s interest (employment) do not align perfectly.

Oh, that’s it.  The alignment is off.  I’m not even going to throw an axle joke out there.  That’s too easy.  Once again, I’m fairly certain there are ironic quotation marks that should be around “align perfectly,” but I never can tell what’s irony and what’s mere farce.

Know what I was saying about misleading qualifiers?  Here’s a doozy.  Warning: this is a half a quote taken completely out of context.  Still, it’s too funny to pass up:

…the risk of a second economic downturn…

Silly me.  Here I thought it was one long, slow decline.  Nope, we had a rebound there, and now there is a RISK of a second economic downturn.  I don’t need to rub the Dow Jones in the author’s face.  He probably realizes how dumb that sounds now.  Especially when that risk is biting the stock market on the ass.

*cough* Corporate Fascism *cough*

With considerable uncertainty about the efficacy of various policy options, a multistakeholder, multipronged approach to addressing these distributional problems is best. The relevant knowledge about promising new technologies and market opportunities is dispersed among business, the government, labor, and universities, and it needs to be assembled and turned into initiatives.  President Barack Obama has already appointed a commission, led by Jeffrey Immelt, the ceo of General Electric, to focus on competitiveness and employment issues in the U.S. economy. This is an important step forward. But it will be hugely difficult to invest in human capital, technology, and infrastructure as much as is necessary at a time of fiscal distress and declining government employment. And yet restoring opportunities for future generations requires making sacrifices in the present.

We’ve got business, the government, labor and universities with seats at the table.  How about, oh, I dunno, regular taxpayers?  Some shmuck off the street?  Feh, what do they know?

Here’s a zinger, plain and simple.  Nothing more, nothing less:

Improving the performance of the educational system has been a priority for some years, yet the results are in doubt.

‘Bout that highly educated workforce.  Where is it?  Seemingly not coming from most educational institutions domestically, according to Mr. Spence.  He doesn’t just throw wild statements out there.  He backs them up with vague almost statistics, but, well, without the numbers:

…the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development administers a set of standardized tests, the Program for
International Student Assessment, across more than 60 countries, advanced and developing, to measure the cognitive skills of teenage students. The United States ranks close to the average in reading and science and well behind most countries in math.

Close to average….is that above or below?  Vague and generally useless.  It’s like I hit the cryptojournalism lottery!  Once again, we’re confronted with problems, but no solutions.  Oh, there are suggestions.  Hilarious suggestions.

And when I say hilarious, well, see for yourself:

To break this pattern, it will be necessary to shift communities’-and the country’s-values about education through moral leadership, at both the community and the national levels.

Moral leadership.  Good thing this is an article and not a speech, since I doubt anyone could say that with a straight face without bursting into hysterics.  All along, all we’ve needed is moral leadership (from the national level!), and our students would magically be better performers at reading, math and science.

So I have this bridge in Brooklyn for sale, I sez.

One last tidbit, then we should have this wrapped up tightly:

Mncs with earnings outside the United States currently have a strong incentive to keep their earnings abroad
and reinvest them abroad because earnings are taxed both where they are earned and also in the United States if they are repatriated. Lower tax rates would mean a loss in revenue for the U.S. government, but that could be replaced by taxes on consumption, which would have the added benefit of helping shift the composition of demand from domestic to foreign.

I may be mistaken, but wouldn’t consumption taxes, I don’t know, fall on consumers?  Sounds like just another way ‘the lower end’ would get fucked over.  Yes, the author claims that the burden would be shifted to some foreign entity.  He also claims we’ve got low prices.

Like I try to do with many of these articles, I want you to think about what you’re reading.  If you’re reading.  Often, you’ll find the most egregious lies are balancing on a qualifier, or a quip.  Keep your eyes open and your brains sharp.  Even if you can’t afford to be highly educated.

Anders Rasmussen’s Fogh-gy Plan For NATO After Libya

Posted in Cryptojournalism, defense with tags , , on July 12, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

The Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, recently published an opinion paper.  Titled “NATO After Libya,” and published in Foreign Affairs, Anders Fogh Rasmussen discusses European austerity and the future of the global defense shield.  If I had to write a crib sheet to fit on a pin head, I’d sum it up as “spend smarter and integrate.”  As a blurb, it would be “prevent the economic crisis from becoming a security crisis.”  Too right.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Point Man for Nato

The essay itself is rather short, and everyone should read it for themselves.  Do that now, since at the jump I’m going to play a game of Statement –> Translation.

Statement –> Translation is where I take a chunk of information, dust off the debris, and translate.  Cryptojournalistically, of course.

Without further ado:

…military might still matters in twenty-first-century geopolitics. The security challenges facing Europe include conflicts in its neighborhood, such as in Libya; terrorism from failed states further away; and emerging threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cyberwarfare.

Sounds good, right?  Only I didn’t know the internet was susceptible to traditional armaments.  Nuclear proliferation is also something which does not bow to tanks and air power.  I’ll give NATO’s Secretary-General the benefit of the doubt.  I am a mere cryptojournalist, and he wields the power of NATO.

Continuing with the theme of military might:

…in an unpredictable environment, hard power can enable peace. Just as the presence of a police officer may deter a burglar, the projection of military power can help prevent and, in extreme cases, diminish threats, as well as ultimately open the way for political solutions.

This is one of the great misnomers of our time.  Soldiers and police are not the same.  If you wanted to protect your home, would you buy a dog or a cougar?  Yes, that’s the analogy I’m drawing.  A dog is a domesticated animal, while a cougar is as likely to pounce a homeowner as it is a thief.  Trying to craft an analogy of soldiers in a war zone being equivalent to beat cops is daft.  That’s right, the underlying premise of many of our military excursions is daft.  Military personnel are not police.  Nor should they.

Sorry if I’m breaking the one to break this to you, but cops and soldiers are not the same.  If you do not see the difference, I’m surprised you’re even reading this blog.

Even with all the military might at NATO’s disposal, Rasmussen reminds us mere physical power is not the goal:

the way forward lies not in spending more but in spending better — by pursuing multinational approaches, making the transatlantic compact more strategically oriented, and working with emerging powers to manage the effects of the globalization of security.

Sounds like “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”  Hard work is overrated, anyway.

If a beaver revs a chainsaw in the forest and there's no one there, does the chainsaw make a sound?

Sounds like more cooks in the kitchen.  “Better, not more,” while an admirable sentiment, is contradictory when said in the same breath as multinational approaches and security globalization.  Ever competed in a three-legged race with two extra people tied to your leg, with another three on your back?  That’s what to expect from better spending with a more multinational approach.  Expanding bureaucracies is never a streamlining move.

But it gets better.  Here is Mr. Rasmussen’s description of “smart defense,” and how to implement this idea.  It’s fun:

Smart defense is about building security for less money by working together and being more flexible. This requires identifying those areas in which NATO allies need to keep investing. The operation in Libya has underlined the unpredictability of threats and the need to maintain a wide spectrum of military capabilities, both frontline and enabling ones. Keeping a deployable army, a powerful navy, and a strong air force costs money, however, and not all European countries can afford to have a bit of everything. So they should set their priorities on the basis of threats, cost-effectiveness, and performance — not budgetary considerations or prestige alone.

Another great piece of rhetorical sophistry.  Who wouldn’t want a smart defense?  Now wait a second there, chico.  Read that passage carefully, since there are a statements that do not reconcile.  Rasmussen declares the need to build security with less money.  Without missing a beat, he then points out the need to “maintain a wide spectrum of military capabilities,” which is never cheap.

A Brussels favorite

Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, though, or you’re likely to miss another irreconcilable contradiction.  Mr. Rasmussen points out the “unpredictability of threats” which have arisen in Libya.  By the end of the paragraph, however, he is calling for European countries to “set their priorities on the basis of threats,” which sounds like a job for a soothsayer or guru.

NATO countries are being encouraged to prioritize their individual military spending on the basis of something unpredictable? Sounds familiar, but I’m struggling to put a finger on it.

That's more like it

Remember the calls years back to buy visqueen and duct tape?  To protect your home from biological agents?  Of course you don’t, that was years ago.  It falls along the same lines as Rasmussen’s thinking about threats.  Using NATO logic, namely ‘on the basis of threats,’ well, everyone would have rolls of visqueen (which is a brand-name for plastic sheeting material, FYI) in their homes from the anthrax scare.

As you can see, I’m having a difficult time reconciling the notion of threats and their unpredictability.  How do you predict the unpredictable?  How can thy ground that which is ungroundable?

Pardon me, I have a meeting with the Supreme Allied Commanders, per se

I’m generally impressed.  I normally expect that level of rhetorical trickeration from a banker, not a military man.  Well played, Fogh, well played indeed.  Since we’re beginning to delve into the fantasy world of banking rhetoric, let’s wrap this up before we fall into another topic altogether.  Bear in mind this is in reference to leaning on so-called emerging powers to pick up some of the slack in global defense:

Working together could eventually lead to a common understanding of how to build twenty-first-century global security, which entails a sense of shared responsibility. This way, what too often seems like a zero-sum scenario can be turned into a win-win one.

Zero-sum games by their nature cannot be mutually beneficial to all parties.  Talk about the cart in front of the horse.  Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes he’s a general manager of a football team.  What he fails to grasp, is the world plays soccer.  The powers of persuasion are not going to change this. He’d like to assign each nation a position, while the countries themselves prefer to run back and forth, in the vain hopes of a tie.  Does he even know what he’s asking for?

Hone in on the word ‘seems’ for a moment.  Rasmussen is not even proclaiming planetary defense is a zero-sum game, yet hopes to turn the notion of global security into a plus-sum (win-win) scenario.  By hypnosis?  Which leads me to wonder, how?  There is no foundation for defense (at least in this article) being either/or, so what is it?

Coupling the seeming state of things with a hopeful outcome leaves a lot of wiggle room for what peoples’ genuine opinion of defense is, be it zero or plus sum.  Broad and vague, just how I like it.

Since I’ve got an affinity for statements twinged with the doom and gloom of apprehension for the future, here is Mr. Rasmussen’s closing statement:

Making European defense more coherent, strengthening transatlantic ties, and enhancing NATO’s connections with other global actors is the way to prevent the economic crisis from becoming a security crisis.

Just to be a speculative prick, I’ll go out on a limb and guess the premise “prevent the economic crisis from becoming a security crisis,” becomes a talking point around Labor Day.  It reeks of the sort of fear mongering that will play almost too well domestically.

Will NATO’s budget dry up after the Libyan incursion?  Doubtful.  If you believe the next theater of warfare is the Arctic Circle, well, then it’s clear there will always be a place for NATO.  Now, is that in a zero-sum, or plus-sum world?

Slicing And Dicing The New Cocaine Cowboys

Posted in politics with tags , , , , on March 2, 2011 by The Cryptojournalist

A couple of months ago, former administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Robert C. Bonner wrote an article in Foreign Affairs.  Foreign Affairs is the quarterly publication for the Council on Foreign Relations, a roundtable group based in New York City.  Called The New Cocaine Cowboys, Bonner tries to figure a way to curb some of the wild violence and lawlessness in Mexico.  If you would like to read the full article, this link will take you to the piece.

The cover byline for this piece boasts, “With U.S. Help, Mexico Can Beat Its Drug Gangs, Like Colombia Did.”  And THIS is where I begin to have a problem with the article.  If Bonner’s work is supposed to offer an effective way to ease the tension in Mexico, I demand a return to sender.

Rather than satirizing or making light of this article, I will choose a few passages from the piece, to hopefully illuminate how bad an idea following the Colombia model would be for the United States.

Please note, I am taking passages and re-arranging them.  I sincerely hope I am not twisting the meaning behind this article, but rather showing, well, how fucked up things could turn out following this path.

Let’s dive right in, and see if we can illustrate how The New Cocaine Cowboys is a recipe for disaster.  (Please note, all text is taken from Foreign Affairs and Robert C. Bonner.  This is not my own work)

Destroying the drug cartels is not an impossible task.  Two decades ago, Colombia was faced with a similar – and in many ways more daunting – struggle.  In the early 1990s, many Colombians, including police officers, judges, presidential candidates, and journalists, were assassinated by the most powerful and fearsome drug-trafficking organizations the world has ever seen: the Cali and Medellín cartels.  Yet within a decade, the Colombian government defeated them, with Washington’s help.  The United States played a vital role in supporting the Colombian government, and it should do the same for Mexico.

Sounds benign enough.  There was a drug trafficking problem in Colombia, and we aided in fixing that problem.  Awesome.

So what happened?

The recent headlines from Mexico are disturbing: U.S. consular official gunned down in broad daylight; Rancher murdered by Mexican drug smuggler; Bomb tossed at U.S. consulate in Nuevo Laredo.  This wave of violence is eerily reminiscent of the carnage that plagued Colombia 20 years ago…

Bonner continues

Over the last two decades, Mexican drug cartels have acquired unprecedented power to corrupt and intimidate government officials and civilians.  Three factors account for their rise: preexisting corruption, the inability of weak law enforcement institutions to counter them, and the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.

Wait a tic.  As we ‘beat’ the Colombian cartels, they moved right next door?  Over the past two decades, we’ve seen our cocaine production and distribution move CLOSER to our border?  That does not sound like a win to me.  Rather, it sounds like we’ve shrunk the distribution line over the last two decades.  This can’t be right.

In fact, that’s exactly what has happened.  Coinciding with the ascent of the Mexican cartels has been a plateauing of cocaine use (you can also see a skeptics website corroborates the claims of the Federal Government).  The picture emerging is lower consumption and a dethroning of the grand cartels from the 1980s.  Seems we should be happy that cocaine abuse has faen

Not so fast, hombre.

[Mexican President Felipe] Calderón has also taken action to tighten security at Mexican ports along the country’s southern border in order to disrupt the inflow of cocaine, weapons, and drug precursor chemicals.

See that?  Right there, clear as day.  Cocaine is still traveling north into Mexico.  While the cartels in Colombia are gone, the product is still alive and kicking.

Bonner says as much further into the article.

In Colombia, the objective was to dismantle the Cali and Medellín cartels – not to prevent drugs from being smuggled into the United States or to end their consumption.  Indeed, there are still drug traffickers in Colombia, and cocaine is still produced there, but compared with the old cartels, the trafficking groups there today are smaller, more fragmented, and far less powerful – and, most important, they no longer pose a threat to Colombian national security.

Of course the Colombian cartels no longer pose a threat to Colombian national security.  That was shipped north, to Mexico.  Bonner’s assertion that our fight in Colombia improved life there rings hollow, since the violence and corruption has simply been moved to a different country.

Not only that, but the operation was moved closer to its primary market, America.  Let me get this straight.  We beat cartels in Colombia by seeing the cocaine trade make a wholesale move closer to us.  On top of that, we did nothing to cease production in Colombia.  The net effect of us ‘winning’ in Colombia has been to move the violence, corruption and havoc into our back yard.

Let’s extrapolate this trend.  In a logical sense, the solution to the Mexican cartel problem should lead to one conclusion: export the cartels north.  That’s what won the day in Colombia, and if we want to beat Mexico’s drug gangs like the Colombians did that’s the inevitable conclusion.  Bonner waxes rhetorically on improving the federal government in Mexico, creating a Mexican equivalent to the FBI.

Ignore the flowery solutions.  If the plan to defeat Mexican cartels is to follow the Colombian model, the inevitable conclusion will be American cartels.  I’d like to imagine a different conclusion, but everything points towards violence and corruption coming closer to home.

As violence declined in Colombia, we saw a sharp rise in Mexico.  All of this is thanks to our role as the premiere market for cocaine.  It’s more a case of cutting out the middle man than anything, and that’s not a great potential trend.  Mexico is as close as cartels can come to being situated in the U.S. without setting up shop for good.  It’s like Rick James famously said……

Cocaine is a hell of a drug

I do not have a solution.  But the solution obliquely pitched by Bonner, defeating cartels (to see them reemerge closer to home), is not going to improve things tangibly.  It will only have the effect of moving the problem, likely right into the U.S.