Mar 17, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

“It matters a great deal whether countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia believe us—and support us—when we insist we’re defending the principle that big, powerful countries must not invade their smaller neighbors.“

How can I put this gently….

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I have a few thoughts about this issue.

First, a sovereign country that can't control large swathes of its own territory is a dangerous country, regardless of its government's stated intentions. Mexico fits that description. Moreover, Mexican law enforcement and, to a less extent the Mexican armed forces, are compromised by the cartels, which, whether you're willing to call them terrorist organizations or not, are inflicting great harm on the United States. And to judge from the recent, distinctly hostile, comments of the President of Mexico, the United States can expect no cooperation from that quarter. On the whole, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to call this situation a national security threat. The question is what to do about it.

Of course, it would be stupid and counterproductive to launch an invasion of Mexico. But military action against the cartels need not take that form. The US has military intelligence and special operations capabilities second to none. Putting the cartels under intensive surveillance and carrying out the occasional targeted assassination might do a lot to cramp their style.

But I don't like the idea of designation the cartels as terrorist organizations. They bear more of a resemblance to the Barbary pirates than they do to ISIS or Al Qaeda. I'd treat them accordingly.

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"Biden might even sign it. How many executives can resist the opportunity to have open-ended power?"

Paging WigWag. I feel like there's a wager here I want to make.

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I didn’t quite reach the end, side-lined by the entrancing idea of Canada invading the USA to prevent all those Americans, including kids, from shooting each other on a daily basis with their (to me) incomprehensible addiction to guns.

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This is not Mexico’s fault, it’s California’s fault. Don’t send the U.S. military to Mexico send it to Los Angeles. See,


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So at least two hundred new people would have to enter the addict pool each day. Otherwise it is a self-limiting problem. Do 200+ people daily really decide to become junkies? It's not like it's a good option for any purpose; they're not being forced; literally any other choice would be better; and they can't say they didn't know.

Where are all the heroin addicts appearing from, then? Maybe we can stop that at source...

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Speaking of fentanyl I saw an interesting tweet earlier today that sums up the absurdity of blaming Mexico for a problem mostly created by progressive Americans.

“San Francisco hands out 12,000 needles a day, the majority of which are disposed of in the street.

Meanwhile, restaurants in the city are banned from providing patrons with plastic straws, virtually all of which would likely end up in the trash can.”

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Mar 14, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

Primary question is about the wording and expected effect of proposed “anti-drug Cartel” legislation. Crenshaw proposed two bills. Bill 1 would allegedly authorize partnership with Mexican gov to “Target cartels” (my paraphrase). I haven’t located or read the bills. Bill 2 would specifically target the freezing of monetary assets. Either bill 1 or 2 stipulates more severe criminal penalties for those involved in cartel activity.

Other politicians and former appointees (Barr), who comment on legislation proposed by others- may or may not understand design of proposed bills. Republican references to terrorism and Al Queda may be figurative to signal problem severity. I doubt that any politician (Dem or Repub) envisions an “Afghanistan or Iraq”-styled invasion and war.

On supply-demand argument from Mexico. I have heard this argument from Mexico for years. Imagine if someone hypothetically drove to a local high-school with 100 cases of Whiskey and then said “The problem is that high school students create a demand for product, not my fault that I am at the school providing free booze.”

On comparison to loony “Defund Police” idea that became actual policy; yes - we never know which random idea will catapult into actual gov policy. But, “Defund” was not merely the result of local/state politicians liking an idea. “Defund” was the planned and organized creation of the “Equity Program” that 100 mayors and 30 governors implemented with dictatorship-like authority. None disclosed publicly that they had made their jurisdictions a member of Racial Equity Alliance, nor that they likely knew about “Defund” since 2018 or 2019 but kept secret from public and even city-gov/state-gov employees- until June 01, 2020. Just like all projects for Equity Program, each sentence is treated as if “From God”, with any disagreement at any step strictly forbidden. Employees who disagree- get fired.

Republicans have no power structure that matches the “totalizing” Equity Program. Republicans do not have “unity across the party” to act partisan unless it is specifically anti-Biden or in former years “pro-Trump”.

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I can see that the FTO designation isn’t accurate in regards to the cartels. Is there a designation that would be better that would still allow prosecution of Chinese firms providing precursor?

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That’s an absolutely disingenuous response. As a writer you know that tone can pervade an entire story without any one word being offensive. You could have covered the story of Crenshaw’s proposed AUMF seriously, and even included Graham’s outrageous comments. But you chose to just paint anyone to the right of Lowell Weicker as insane warmongers, which is a strange position for someone with your journalistic history to take. Don’t urinate on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

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Stop using fentanyl! I couldn’t agree more. “It’s preposterous to propose to invade your neighbor because you are an addict.” I loved that. That’s exactly what I think about this unconscionable fentanyl hysteria. I would add it’s also an exceedingly lame excuse for “border security.” And that’s where this comes from, the xenophobic hatred of Mexico, that demands a wall. It is no justification to build a xenophobic border wall because some weak americans in increasingly red states like West Virginia, who don’t work and live on welfare payments, are drug addicts--at immense cost to taxpayers, refugees seeking asylum and opportunity, and the economy. It doesn’t surprise me that Biden has done nothing to condemn or quell this braggadocio. Surely he sympathizes with it, because he wants the fentanyl victim self-destructing red state voting bloc so badly, and for his whole career he has sought to brand himself a working class hero; no higher principle seems to get in the way of his romance with the drug-addled/racist/entitlement-pampered class of citizen. They’re all “workers” to him who have been exploited by international finance or “market fundamentalism,” as they are for the GOP just the same. It is the biggest yet least understood and underrated threat to democracy in America how both the Democratic and Republican parties have arrived at the same conclusion that populist grievance can or should be appeased, and that somehow it’s legitimate, whether continuing to detain immigrants at the border, pull out of Afghanistan, lukewarm support of Ukraine, cracking down and talking tough on China to protect manufacturing and protect Americans from Tik Tok, or now talking about classifying Mexican drug cartels as terrorists. It is an insincere perverse fetish, all about getting votes, and it has to stop. This was a great piece. Really needed to be said. I saw an op-ed in wsj last week or the week before by Bill Barr, which was how I first heard of this, and I didn’t read it. I couldn’t believe how stupid it sounded. But I haven’t paid attention to this monstrous development because it just seemed like another thing republicans might say that was crazy but they don’t mean, because they say something nuts every other week. I chose to ignore it. But you’re right depending on how much support the AUMF gets, not Biden but perhaps someone else will decide to bomb Mexico. So it’s definitely worth analyzing

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I have no objection to partnering with the Mexican authorities to provide them with weapons and intelligence to help them take on the cartels.

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 14, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

I'm for raising the cost of doing business for the cartels. Primarily because of their human trafficking and secondarily because of the drugs. We already use the military, mostly the Coast Guard, to impact the cartels in Pacific, Atlantic and in particular the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. If we can use drones and special forces to kill those high up in the cartels and damage their infrastructure, that would be a good thing.

We will never completely stop these activities because of the demand, but right now the US is, in essence, facilitating trafficking across the Mexican/US border. Raising the cost of doing business will reduce the human and drug trafficking, and that is a worthy goal.

I would prefer to do this in coordination with the Mexican government, but in northern Mexico, the cartels are the government, and they are not going to cooperate.

It would appear that many of Mexico's government official are on the take from the cartels, so their cooperation is highly unlikely. If they do cooperate with the US, it is likely that the cartels will kill them, and they know that.

The US politicians putting these ideas forward are opening a debate. It is good that we have this debate out in the open and congress can address it one way or another. That is what we elect them to do.

By the way, Mexico's army is really just an enhanced police force. In recent history they haven't really faced the threat of war and have spent little money on a modern military. If there was a full-scale war between the cartels and the Mexican military, my money is on the cartels.

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Mar 14, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

¨But when senior representatives of one of the US’s major political parties propose to invade Mexico, it should at least make us blink.¨

The main player here in terms of seniority is Lindsay Graham: my short summary is that Lindsay Graham is a belligerent idiot and always has been (it sells in South Carolina). When McCain was alive I believe he restrained some of Graham´s more histrionic flights of fancy, but once McCain was gone and Trump was here, he reverted to type: the ever-belligerent (or maybe ´more-belligerent than thou´) Southerner. It´s a type and a political style that has been performed over and over again since at least 1800. Full stop. (War with England (again)! Filibusters! Haiti! Manifest Destiny! War with Mexico the first time! Knights of the Golden Circle! The entire goddamn Civil War! et cetera ad nauseam ad infinitum.)

¨Or have we collectively decided to ignore everything the GOP says on the grounds that they can’t possibly be serious and it must be just another meaningless sop to their insatiable base?¨

Not to put a fine point on it, but the GOP has lost three elections in a row. (Strictly speaking they didn´t lose in 2022, but only by the barest sliver.) Additionally, every time they get control of the House there is no end to the lunatic bills they´re going to propose for messaging purposes; if I live long enough maybe they will finally get around to declaring war on the stars themselves.

I´m glad some journalism was committed in reporting this, but there´s no strong need to give them oxygen, or more important to them, loud public opposition, so they have something to campaign against in the continuous-365 election cycle.

¨They seem very serious about wanting to use it to start a war with Mexico.¨

They´re very serious about not raising the debt ceiling, presumably to force the US to go into default and force a financial panic that will result in a deep recession that will finally break open the pinata of destroying Social Security and Medicare which they can then blame on Democrats, which in turn will result in them winning all the elections forever (by say, outlawing the Democratic party), and then an economic miracle will happen, the heavens will part, Jesus will step out of the stretch limo and all the bad people will become true Christians (ahem: including the Jews, if they know what´s good for them) and peace will reign all over the earth forever, amen. With that payoff, you´d practically *have* to support war with Mexico... if you were a true believer in a certain form of received Christianity. Street Christianity. (They´d appreciate if you didn´t mention that bit about no man shall know the hour or the day.) (´Well, he didn´t say anything about the year or the decade right? So we can know those parts, right?´)

´The CDC says that 150 people die daily from opiate overdoses, of which fentanyl overdoses are a sharply rising proportion.´

But the opiate problem (which replaced the meth problem) was basically induced internally by the Sacklers and their pharmaceutical salesman, and the Sacklers are embarrassingly rich. Much easier and safer to heap garbage on foreigners, specifically Mexicans, whom the Republican base was mad at during many of our previous episodes of Reality TV politics.

¨When a military enters a sovereign country against the wishes of that country’s people and its legitimate government, that’s an invasion.¨

It´s generally considered an act of aggressive war (much like a filibuster, or occupying the ports of a Central American country that might be in arrears to United Fruit Company or American banks). I think a reasonable case could be made that invading Iraq was an act of aggressive war, no matter how much BS was strewn about in service of the case, and the folks who loved that (particularly the blood) like they love their dogs would happily do something just like it all over again.

¨This reinforces the idea that these proposals are meant to be a negotiating strategy, not a true effort to facilitate an invasion.¨

OK, the original idea was that we couldn´t declare war on Al Qaeda because they were a terrorist group and if we did we´d have to treat them as enemy combatants/POWs and what we wanted to do was engage in a police operation against the world´s worst criminals using the military, and (here´s the not directly stated part) we would then be free to do whatever wanted to said Al Qaeda members. (Such as torturing them.) Also, because Al Qaeda could be anywhere it had to apply anywhere in the world, and also we included anyone who supported Al Qaeda, like the Taliban or just anyone we don´t like and want to kill, et voilà: we de facto declared war on every country on earth that doesn´t bend the knee. Come time to invade Iraq, they decided, for finicky legal reasons and also figleaves, to write one that could anywhere near, around, over, under or besides Iraq. It´s great: eternal war for perpetual TV hits, no fussing with Congress, no need to mess with the Red Cross or international courts or the UN, bomb anybody, anywhere, at any time, if you can cough up even a half-witted justification. It´s not an actual declaration of war (which could involve drafts or quelle horreur! raising taxes), it just works like a perpetual war-generating machine.

They want to put the band back together. As you say, the idea is insane, so they just come out and say they don´t *really* mean it and they would never really invade Mexico (they would totally invade Mexico is they thought it would an election or three), never mind that Mexico is ~5 times the population and ~4 times the surface area of Iraq. They wanna bomb something; even more importantly they want to go on FoxNews and talk about bombing things, and even more importantly than that they want to campaign on bombing things and killing people.

The junction of the words Mexico, drugs, cartels, China, terrorists,´the border´ and bombing will (they hope) cause the elderly FoxNews Barcalounger Brigade to arise as one from their reclining positions and scream ´BINGO´! Assuming they can get up off the Barcalounger. (Freudian slip? I keep wanting to spell it BarcOlounger as in ´starkers´.) It all sounds very tough and warlike, and gets attention off the fact that Biden visited Kyiv and they don´t want to fight the Russians because Vladmir Putin is a very manly 5´7" sitting at one of many splendid long tables, and Ze is good Jewish boy would wore a dress in a comedy skit, so clearly Ukraine is gay, and they´re totally off fighting the Russians, even ignoring the fact Donald Trump loves Putin as much as he loves anybody other than himself.

As it stands, there´s no chance Biden will sign this: it would drive a stake through the heart of his reelection campaign, which is yet another reason for Republicans to bring it up in the hopes that he will do something really stupid. Further to that, the donor class would not want to actually go to war with Mexico because they own property down there, so this likely won´t go very far.



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Mar 14, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

I would tend to assume that rhetoric about invading Mexico would be just that - messaging to get attention/enthuse supporters with an authoritarian tendency, and just maybe to make a serious point about a serious problem. Although given where the rhetoric is coming from, the latter seems unlikely. I mean, maybe they're serious - god knows there have been some crazy ideas floated by people in positions of power in the last few years - but it seems more likely they're just making noise.

I know nothing - not an American, never lived there and wouldn't, but don't mind the occasional visit - but I doubt there are any easy fixes to the drug problem in the US. Restricting supply (which history suggests is really hard anyway, regardless of how many dollars or bullets thrown at the problem) just makes it a more profitable business - illegal activities are one place where markets tend to work quite efficiently. As Claire notes, ultimately you have to reduce demand, and that's a difficult, probably multi-generational project that the whole of society needs to buy into. So not an easy sell in any political environment, let alone the current one.

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Mar 14, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

We shouldn’t invade Mexico; we should invade San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and every other city with a major fentanyl problem. It’s not the Mexican President we should be worried about, it’s the Soros backed prosecutors who refuse to take the problem seriously and won’t bring charges against street level dealers.

In San Francisco the other day, a group of local politicians led a rally opposing the deportation of low-level Central American fentanyl dealers.

A large number of fentanyl addicts are suffering from untreated psychiatric diseases and are using fentanyl to self-medicate. Too many progressive Americans believe that patients with psychiatric disorders should not be forced into treatment; the result is that many of these patients turn to drugs they can buy on the street.

Remarkably, instead of forcing fentanyl addicts (and patients who are not addicts but suffer from severe psychiatric disease) into treatment whether they like it or not, many local governments including San Francisco and Los Angeles are creating locally run drug dens. These drug dens make the problem worse not better.

Invading Mexico in the hopes of alleviating this problem is absurd; not because the Mexicans won’t like it but because it won’t work. If the United States won’t institute punitive policies to reduce demand, the supply will always be available. We need to prosecute drug dealers (low level and kingpins) and we need to detain fentanyl addicts, not permit them to take over our streets.

About the only good thing to be said about the idea of invading Mexico is that it would violate “international law.” The entire concept of international law is so deluded that you almost have to be hooked on fentanyl to support it.

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