Esper: Mother of All Bombs for Muslims, Not Narcos

 

According to our political establishment, it is acceptable to kill Muslims with any weapon up to the MOAB, nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs. Our political and national defense elites need not alert the host country, nor offer any warning or legal process to Muslims we deem terrorists. Yet, none of this applies to narcos, not even the most powerful men in Mexico, who traffic far more death across our southern border annually than all the Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil since we announced the Global War on Terror.

I am sure that Mark Esper thinks himself quite the reasonable fellow and consummate professional. Yet, his self-interested telling of President Trump’s interactions with members of the national security bureaucracy reflects poorly on him and his gang, while making Donald J. Trump sound far more connected with the American people and our real national security interests. Take as true the claim that President Trump wanted to do to the top drug lords what he did to the top Iranian general in charge of international terrorist operations. Now explain to anyone without an Ivy League indoctrination why our intelligence and military assets were not promptly and precisely employed to decapitate the cartels.

But Mexico is a sovereign county with which we are not at war. True, just like Pakistan. Indeed, Pakistan is a nuclear power and quite touchy about its place in the world. Yet, presidents from Bush the Younger to Trump sanctioned strikes with munitions inside Pakistan’s borders. We never alerted the Pakistani government in advance, especially when we sent an elite team on a raid to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.

We have at least an equal interest in violently disrupting the cartels that control trafficking of everything from drugs to women and children. The cartels run a distribution system that reaches every community and connects to street-level gangs. So, we can rightly hold them accountable for the record number of overdose deaths and the thousands gunned down on our city streets annually.

Beyond holding cartel leaders accountable for killing Americans on American soil, we have a national security interest in stopping their armed forces that control substantial portions of Mexico and that have extended their special operations reach into our territory for years. The signs in the Arizona desert warning Americans not to proceed on public land because of the threat of death from armed foreign forces were posted over a decade ago. The bullets could come from two sources. First, the coyotes were armed. Second, cartels were reportedly using serious men, mercenary snipers, to overwatch their off-road routes through the Arizona desert.

Deeper and closer to the heartland, there are already towns in our country that are governed by a cartel shadow government, with no one daring to oppose their interests in the movement of drugs and other commodities, including human beings.

The level of organization and danger posed to our national security on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border prompted the late great @bossmongo to write a masterful fictional account of a secret operation by elite U.S. troops to draw out and then wipe out cartel armed forces on ground of our choosing in our desert. See Operation MESAS VANTAGE in ten parts.

Pakistan and Mexico are both weak states, with parallel governments run by violent men who mean us harm and whose organizations have in fact killed thousands of Americans on our own soil. Both national governments could not be trusted to cooperate in kill or capture operations against these parallel ruling entities. Both Mexico and Pakistan are deeply compromised by outlaw organizations, with informers or allies in their national and domestic security organizations. This was never better illustrated than when elite American troops killed bin Laden in a compound near a Pakistani military installation.

Decapitating the cartels, combined with an all-out campaign against their financial and logistics systems, would not end drug trafficking or sex trafficking. These have always been with us and always will. However, there is a massive difference in scale and lethality felt in our communities, facilitated by serious organization and financing. Further, breaking the cartels is a necessary precondition for Mexicans to have any chance at domestic government reform, developing a more stable society from which people need not trek north for economic opportunity.

Yet, our entire political establishment is set against serious action against this external source of death and injury in our homeland. I was struck by McConnell cheering senior members of his Senate gang going to Kiev, supporting spending another $40 billion dollars on that nation’s security. That same gang has never gone to our southern border, especially during the Obama and Biden regime-induced surges. Mitch and the gang actively resisted spending a single dollar on building a single mile of real barrier on our southern border. President Trump had to find a loophole in existing laws to reallocate about a tenth of what Mendacious Mitch McConnell and his whole crew want to spend on defending Ukrainian territorial integrity.

So, Esper and all the perfumed princes of the Pentagon have been acting in conformity with the long-term establishment view in D.C. and other elite bubbles. It was President Trump’s disruption of this cozy consensus that was truly shocking and threatening, causing the likes of Esper and Barr to blame Trump and us for violating norms or expecting actions that just were not cricket. We need to double down on candidates who share our view and who reject received elite wisdom. If a drone strike is good enough for an Iranian terror master, it is good enough for a Mexican drug lord.

As I wrote in “Tales from Arizona,” 

The Arizona Republic tells of families murdered in Mexico on the way to a wedding [includes cell phone video of the bullet-riddled, burned-out minivan with charred bodies]:

The three mothers were driving from Bavispe to a wedding in LaBaron, another community in the state of Chihuahua, when their three vehicles loaded with children were attacked by gunfire, causing one of the vehicles to explode in flames, Staddon said. A video posted online shows a burned vehicle riddled with bullet holes.

[Arizona resident Leah] Staddon said the community is home to members of the Mormon Church and members of a fundamentalist Mormon sect. She said the victims of the attack were members of the fundamentalist group.

[…]

She said her brother discovered the bullet-ridden vehicle still smoldering with the charred bodies inside and shot the video as evidence.

Mexican authorities described the victims:

  • They said bodies of one woman and four children were found inside a burned Chevrolet Tahoe.
  • Three more people, a woman and two children, were found dead in a white Suburban nearby.
  • The body of a woman was found in a second white Suburban.

Unless this fundamentalist Mormon community was foolishly getting into the meth manufacturing or other drug business, this slaughter makes no clear sense. As President Trump tweeted about it, his words suggested that the deep state was telling him it was a tragic case of two gangs, rival cartels, shooting it out on the highway and the women and children getting caught in the crossfire. This, however, is unlikely to be true.

Yes, I am saying the President may have been lied to again by the same crew that has decided they will run this country and the elected president, the electoral majority, and the real Constitution, can pound sand. If there was a gun battle on the highway, you would not get three, and only three, vehicles effectively engaged and the occupants all killed. This, based on what we are given, has all the marks of a classic linear ambush, either by a small force in position off the side of the road or by a mobile force overtaking the three vehicles and then pouring bullets into them at point-blank range. …

Is there an achievable solution, something that breaks the power of the Mexican cartels or makes them deeply fearful and circumspect about raising their hand against an American? I can say with some confidence that no one in the deep state, no one in the institutionalized “War on Drugs,” and no one in the commentariat has a feasible solution.**

** The relevant book, one in the line of speculative military fiction by serving or former mid-grade Army officers in the 1990s, is Harold Coyle’s Trial by Fire. If you have not considered the moves and counter-moves in this novel, your plans and prognostications are not serious.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Clifford A. Brown: If a drone strike is good enough for an Iranian terror master, it is good enough for a Mexican drug lord.

    No kidding! This is a very insightful post, Clifford. Thank you for shining a light on our hypocrisy and unwillingness to engage the enemies we face.

    • #1
  2. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Clifford A. Brown: But Mexico is a sovereign county with which we are not at war.

    But They are at war with Us.

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    President Trump really exposed the rot in our system. Too bad a lot of it was right under his feet. Is there enough good lumber that you don’t need to find entirely new wood?

    • #3
  4. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    “So, Esper and all the perfumed princes of the Pentagon have been acting in conformity with the long term establishment view in D.C. and other elite bubbles. It was President Trump’s disruption of this cosy consensus that was truly shocking and threatening, causing the likes of Esper and Barr to blame Trump and us for violating norms or expecting actions that just were not cricket.”

    This is the real heart of the issue, I think. Esper’s smarmy and self-serving interview on “60 Minutes” reveals the extent to which he is a creature of the Swamp, a bureaucratic parasite living off of the body politic. He and Milley are noteworthy examples of why the edifice of contemporary military “professionalism” ought to be torn down and restored to its pre-Progressive foundations.

    • #4
  5. DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
    @DonG

    Fentanyl is like a 9/11 attack every other week.   

    • #5
  6. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) (View Comment):

    Fentanyl is like a 9/11 attack every other week.

    I have been assured by a few Ricocheteers that it’s not something we should expend any effort to stop.

    I know, I was shocked by that attitude, too.

    • #6
  7. MDHahn Coolidge
    MDHahn
    @MDHahn

    I get your frustration, but the legal differences actually do matter. Our strikes against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan were legitimate actions under the law of war. Doing so against the cartels is not. 

    You also ignore the consequences of such actions in Mexico. It could very well trigger a civil war. Do we send troops into Mexico? What about the refugees? Wouldn’t that make the border crisis worse? 

    Our immigration system is a mess and we need to do a lot more on enforcement. But bomb the sh*t out of cartels doesn’t strike me as productive. 

    • #7
  8. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    It’s not difficult to figure out why you can’t strike the Mexican cartels that way. They are assets of various alphabet US government agencies, members of which are in turn dipping their hands into the cookie jar.

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    I get your frustration, but the legal differences actually do matter. Our strikes against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan were legitimate actions under the law of war. Doing so against the cartels is not.

    You also ignore the consequences of such actions in Mexico. It could very well trigger a civil war. Do we send troops into Mexico? What about the refugees? Wouldn’t that make the border crisis worse?

    Our immigration system is a mess and we need to do a lot more on enforcement. But bomb the sh*t out of cartels doesn’t strike me as productive.

    Cartels and terrorists are both carrying on war and carnage against us. So they aren’t as different as you say.

    What you’re really saying is Iraq and Afghanistan are far away, so that’s ok. Mexico is close, so it’s not ok. Blowback from Iraq and Afghanistan take longer to arrive here, but they do just as much as any blowback from Mexico would. 

    • #8
  9. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    I get your frustration, but the legal differences actually do matter. Our strikes against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan were legitimate actions under the law of war. Doing so against the cartels is not.

    You also ignore the consequences of such actions in Mexico. It could very well trigger a civil war. Do we send troops into Mexico? What about the refugees? Wouldn’t that make the border crisis worse?

    Our immigration system is a mess and we need to do a lot more on enforcement. But bomb the sh*t out of cartels doesn’t strike me as productive.

    I say we take the quiet way, send in the Seals or use a drone.  Leave no footprints.  Let the cartels believe it is their rivals or their own government.  Then deny, deny.

    • #9
  10. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: But Mexico is a sovereign county with which we are not at war.

    But They are at war with Us.

    Let’s see. Can anyone here recall when and how often we have taken aggressive action against outlaws in nations with which we have not been at war? Actually, this has been for most of my lifetime but not always in our interests. Donald Trump has an awareness of American interests.

    • #10
  11. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    I say we take the quiet way, send in the Seals or use a drone.  Leave no footprints.  Let the cartels believe it is their rivals or their own government.  The deny, deny.

    Nothing this administration does is quiet. Intelligence agencies leak to the press, the press blabs, there’s no way such an act would be done in secret. I don’t know if it’s because they want that buzz from being interviewed on CNN or what. But they keep blabbing about stuff they should be keeping secret.

    • #11
  12. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    Rodin (View Comment):

    President Trump really exposed the rot in our system. Too bad a lot of it was right under his feet. Is there enough good lumber that you don’t need to find entirely new wood?

    Most of the new wood will be balsa.

    • #12
  13. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    MDHahn (View Comment):
    I get your frustration, but the legal differences actually do matter

    Maybe at some time in the past. The construct balance has changed so the legal construct you reference must change as well. When non-government entities like the “drug cartels” are more powerful than their supposed governing authority, legal constructs such as you are referencing need to change.

    • #13
  14. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    Why can’t we mine the border on our side? Most of the ranchers would support it, even if they lost some steers. Be cheaper than what they’re losing now….

    • #14
  15. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    I say we take the quiet way, send in the Seals or use a drone. Leave no footprints. Let the cartels believe it is their rivals or their own government. The deny, deny.

    Nothing this administration does is quiet. Intelligence agencies leak to the press, the press blabs, there’s no way such an act would be done in secret. I don’t know if it’s because they want that buzz from being interviewed on CNN or what. But they keep blabbing about stuff they should be keeping secret.

    True, but our brand new Mini of Truthiness could label the leak disinformation and then the media could walk around with their hands over their ears going yayayayayayayaya.    Which would be amusing to watch at any rate.

    • #15
  16. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    carcat74 (View Comment):

    Why can’t we mine the border on our side? Most of the ranchers would support it, even if they lost some steers. Be cheaper than what they’re losing now….

    Unfortunately it wouldn’t work.  The cartels would just drive their human cattle across the minefield and continue their illicit activities.

    • #16
  17. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) (View Comment):

    Fentanyl is like a 9/11 attack every other week.

    I have been assured by a few Ricocheteers that it’s not something we should expend any effort to stop.

    I know, I was shocked by that attitude, too.

    Yeah, I don’t get the thinking of people who say people who do drugs like fentanyl will do them whether they’re available or not.

    • #17
  18. JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery Thatcher
    JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery
    @JosePluma

    Wasn’t there a novel about this?

    • #18
  19. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    Retaliation against the Mexican cartels is a pointless discussion until the border is secure. 

    • #19
  20. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Where are Gen. Pershing and 2nd Lt. Patton when you need them?

    • #20
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    I added more details about the reach of the cartels’ armed forces, much more than a mere criminal gang. I also pointed back to the excellent series by the late great @bossmongo and a post of mine foreshadowing the establishment reaction to President Trump of which Esper boasts.

    • #21
  22. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery (View Comment):

    Wasn’t there a novel about this?

    I point to Trial by Fire, and @bossmongo wrote an excellent serialized novel on topic.

    • #22
  23. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery (View Comment):

    Wasn’t there a novel about this?

    I point to Trial by Fire, and @ bossmongo wrote an excellent serialized novel on topic.

    I still miss @bossmongo that novel was great.  Kept me at ricochet when I thought about leaving.

     

    • #23
  24. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    carcat74 (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    President Trump really exposed the rot in our system. Too bad a lot of it was right under his feet. Is there enough good lumber that you don’t need to find entirely new wood?

    Most of the new wood will be balsa.

    Chipboard. 

    • #24
  25. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    Retaliation against the Mexican cartels is a pointless discussion until the border is secure.

    You are correct, but isn’t it rather telling that the points being made here are at the top of the list of constitutional responsibilities of the federal executive, that is, the POTUS. But the federal executive spends more time harassing parents of elementary school students, not about the 3 R’s but rather sexuality.

    • #25
  26. MDHahn Coolidge
    MDHahn
    @MDHahn

    Hang On (View Comment):

    It’s not difficult to figure out why you can’t strike the Mexican cartels that way. They are assets of various alphabet US government agencies, members of which are in turn dipping their hands into the cookie jar.

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    I get your frustration, but the legal differences actually do matter. Our strikes against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan were legitimate actions under the law of war. Doing so against the cartels is not.

    You also ignore the consequences of such actions in Mexico. It could very well trigger a civil war. Do we send troops into Mexico? What about the refugees? Wouldn’t that make the border crisis worse?

    Our immigration system is a mess and we need to do a lot more on enforcement. But bomb the sh*t out of cartels doesn’t strike me as productive.

    Cartels and terrorists are both carrying on war and carnage against us. So they aren’t as different as you say.

    What you’re really saying is Iraq and Afghanistan are far away, so that’s ok. Mexico is close, so it’s not ok. Blowback from Iraq and Afghanistan take longer to arrive here, but they do just as much as any blowback from Mexico would.

    The proximity of Mexico adds additional variables we need to consider, but that is not my main point on whether it’s okay. Both Iraq and Afghanistan were authorized by Congress. Our continuing operations in both countries were the result of subsequent agreements with the new governments. Under the law of war we could target insurgents, ISIS, the Taliban, and any other hostile forces. 

    In Mexico, we have no such agreement or authorization. Targeting the cartels the same way as terrorists in Iraq would be a violation of our own law regarding assassination and warfare. The Mexican government isn’t harboring the cartels and is also fighting them. 

    • #26
  27. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    In Mexico, we have no such agreement or authorization. Targeting the cartels the same way as terrorists in Iraq would be a violation of our own law regarding assassination and warfare. The Mexican government isn’t harboring the cartels and is also fighting them. 

    I don’t know what a statement like this even means. It takes work to get agreements to do the right thing. If no work is done, little happens. Instead, our federal government is facilitating the illegal traffic in drugs and people while some of our state and local governments are opposing the illegal trafficking. The above statement makes a case that our federal government facilitating these processes is just fine and that must be how the federal executive department views this since they don’t ask for legislation that enables more corrective action and they avoid exercising laws on the books.

    • #27
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Why is all of this focus on ending supply better, and more cost effective, than a genuine focus on ending demand?

    Edited to add:

    Articulating it as the US being destroyed by Mexican supply of drugs gets it exactly backwards.  Mexico is being laid waste because of the US demand for drugs.  That is the cause of both countries’ issues on this.

    • #28
  29. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Hang On (View Comment):

    It’s not difficult to figure out why you can’t strike the Mexican cartels that way. They are assets of various alphabet US government agencies, members of which are in turn dipping their hands into the cookie jar.

    There’s that.

    What you’re really saying is Iraq and Afghanistan are far away, so that’s ok. Mexico is close, so it’s not ok. Blowback from Iraq and Afghanistan take longer to arrive here, but they do just as much as any blowback from Mexico woul

    And that blowback takes different forms.  But I agree with you – I think it’s unrealistic to believe3 that destroying countries far away has no price tag while destroying Mexico would cause the US difficulties.

    • #29
  30. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Clifford A. Brown: Pakistan and Mexico are both weak states, with parallel governments run by violent men who mean us harm and whose organizations have in fact killed thousands of Americans on our own soil. Both national governments could not be trusted to cooperate in kill or capture operations against these parallel ruling entities. Both Mexico and Pakistan are deeply compromised by outlaw organizations, with informers or allies in their national and domestic security organizations. This was never better illustrated than when elite American troops killed bin Laden in a compound near a Pakistani military installation.

    Pakistan’s national government was undermined by the strikes the US carried out in that country, and from that country into Afghanistan (?) – especially the drone strikes which were seen as an indiscriminate, coward’s weapon that killed civilians more often than not. (Remember that drone strike in Kabul as the US exited – completely civilian casualties.)  Security theatre for a domestic market.

    A weak Pakistani central Govt is one of the reasons the US failed in Afghanistan – because parallel centres of authority – governmental and other – were strengthened every time the US demonstrated that the Pakistani central government was impotent to protect its people from its own allies.

    I don’t know how the situation would be different in Mexico. I don’t believe that the US would risk troops when it could use drones and have plausible deniability wrt civilian deaths.  I can’t see how this would do anything but reduce the Mexican government’s authority within the country.

    • #30
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