Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Attack the Cartels: Why Now?

 

The attack on the families from La Mora community was horrific; no one would argue otherwise. The reasons for the attack are still unclear. These people were US citizens who left the Mormon Church to escape the ban on polygamy passed in 1885; although many who moved to Mexico identify as Mormons, they aren’t affiliated with the Mormon Church. (Not all of them practice polygamy these days.)

You can go here for more background on the families. The church website had the following quotation:

‘We came into Mexico gladly because we had to,’ one early pioneer stated. At that time, United States marshals were zealously executing the Edmunds-Tucker Law against those practicing plural marriage in the United States. Rather than renounce family ties already established or go to prison, many persons fled to Mexico as a haven from persecution.’

President Trump responded to the attack in this way:

US President Donald Trump is offering Mexico’s government unspecified help to ‘wage war’ on drug cartels after a family from a breakaway faction of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints was massacred in northern Mexico.

‘This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!’ Trump says in a series of tweets addressing the tragedy.

Trump adds that the US government stands ready to get involved. He says that Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made fighting drug cartels a top issue.

‘But the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!’

These comments from the President raise all types of questions:

  • Is he using the attack on the La Mora community as an excuse to fight the cartel in Mexico?
  • Should we enter Mexico without the approval of the Mexican president?
  • Do we need to declare the cartels a terrorist organization first?

Finally, should we be acting in response to an attack on a group of US citizens who left the country because they wanted to practice polygamy and didn’t want to be persecuted or prosecuted for their actions? (And this comment is no reflection on the current Mormon Church).

* * * * *

For the record, I’m torn. The cartels are a nightmare and I want to be rid of them. But is it our job to respond militarily? Also, should we be acting in response to this act against US citizens? Should we be dictating our involvement to the Mexican president? Also, my ambivalence arises regarding a community leaving this country to avoid our laws and values. Are they due American intervention with these conditions and their dual citizenship? Does their deserting America have any effect on your own opinion?

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There are 61 comments.

  1. Bob Thompson Member

    I’m not closely involved in any of this where the drug cartels are committing crimes but it appears to me there is a big issue that needs to be addressed and it is merely highlighted by these recent events involving this family in Mexico. The reports are that cartels are the main force behind illegal drug traffic and human trafficking and that needs to be stopped. I wouldn’t think it needs to be tied to this particular event.

    • #1
    • November 7, 2019, at 10:33 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. Franco Member

    These are very good questions. I’m also torn. I’m on my nationalist phase right now, so I’m not especially in the mood to send troops to fight for ex-pats because they wanted to live a different lifestyle than is legal here.

    There’s no way we are going into Mexico without Mexico’s permission, terrorist-labeled or not. And no way Mexico’s President will invite us either.

    • #2
    • November 7, 2019, at 10:38 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  3. Seawriter Member

    I am a big believer in the concept that the United States government should let the rest of the world know that it is a bad idea to attack US citizens in foreign countries when the US citizens are behaving lawfully and unprovocatively. It cannot always be done, but if it can, cry havoc.

    In this case you had three cars filled with women and children in innocent passage savagely attacked. That it may have been an accident does not matter. That the families may have held religious views abhorrent to me does not matter, because they were not attacked because they were polygamists (if these family member were). They were attacked because a bunch of thugs wanted to terrorize both their cartel rivals and the general and innocent population of the region.

    These same thugs are destabilizing the legitimate Mexican government and the creating chaos in United States counties along and near our border with Mexico. They are responsible for our border crisis, both because they facilitate human trafficking and because they force Mexicans to come to the US for jobs by reducing job opportunities in Mexico.

    If Mexico collapses into a failed state like Somalia, run by warlords, the consequences will spill over into the US. The best solution would be for the US military to assist the Mexican army and police to mop up these gangs. We can do it. We did it successfully in Iraq. But it should be done with the concurrence of and in cooperation with Mexico. 

    • #3
    • November 7, 2019, at 11:00 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    In this case you had three cars filled with women and children in innocent passage savagely attacked. That it may have been an accident does not matter. That the families may have held religious views abhorrent to me does not matter, because they were not attacked because they were polygamists (if these family member were).

    This is an appropriate distinction to make, @seawriter. Above all they were human beings.

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    The best solution would be for the US military to assist the Mexican army and police to mop up these gangs. We can do it. We did it successfully in Iraq. But it should be done with the concurrence of and in cooperation with Mexico.

    I also agree with you here. We should not go in uninvited.

    • #4
    • November 7, 2019, at 11:09 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. Guruforhire Member

    Is the reason that you are posting this at all is because your have a religious objection to their religious social conventions?

    Would you feel the same way if it were jews who migrated in order to continue to circumcise their boys? Circumcision could be outlawed in a bunch of western countries.

    • #5
    • November 7, 2019, at 11:23 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Is the reason that you are posting this at all is because your have a religious objection to their religious social conventions?

    Would you feel the same way if it were jews who migrated in order to continue to circumcise their boys? Circumcision could be outlawed in a bunch of western countries.

    The religious objection is directly connected to their desire to violate the law, @guruforhire. Yes, I might feel different if circumcision were made illegal. But I’m having difficulty putting polygamy which was not practiced in the west, and circumcision which has been practiced for thousands of years, in the same category. The latter was not dictated by their religion (to my knowledge), the latter was a covenant with G-d.

    • #6
    • November 7, 2019, at 11:29 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. Bob Thompson Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    But I’m having difficulty putting polygamy which was not practiced in the west, and circumcision which has been practiced for thousands of years, in the same category. The latter was not dictated by their religion (to my knowledge), the latter was a covenant with G-d.

     Mormons have as part of their beliefs that the Prophet (leader of the Church) receives revelations to guide earthly behavior. I think this was the basis for polygamy in the 19th century and the the Prophet acted on similar revelations for guidance when it was abandoned late in that century. All laws governing marriage at that time were state laws. So polygamy was not so much dictated as allowed.

    • #7
    • November 7, 2019, at 11:40 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    The federalist had a suggestion – go after their finances, and those of corrupt officials. I would also suggest that the CIA take a break from going after Trump & start infiltration of the cartels.

    Also – send a bunch of military surplus gear to the border patrol. That is one police force I want heavily militarized.

    • #8
    • November 7, 2019, at 12:07 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. Manny Member

    I think Trump was just giving an impulsive, spur of the moment reaction when he offered to attack the cartels. I’m not sure on reflection he would do it.

    As for me, I think a coordinated effort with the Mexican government as a strike against the cartels would be a good idea if you can trust the Mexican government. But I don’t think you can. @seawriter I really take to heart Seawriter’s comment above:

    I am a big believer in the concept that the United States government should let the rest of the world know that it is a bad idea to attack US citizens in foreign countries when the US citizens are behaving lawfully and unprovocatively. It cannot always be done, but if it can, cry havoc.

    Perhaps we can have a strike against the cartels that are within US territory as a retaliation. But the evidence they are an operating cartel would have to be clear and convincing.

    • #9
    • November 7, 2019, at 12:16 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Western Chauvinist Member

    Mexico is a failed state. Its government has surrendered to the cartels. Using our military isn’t really about defending this particular community, whether they’re American or not. It’s about fighting the lawlessness and corruption in Mexico that is bleeding over our border. I’d prefer we had the Mexican government’s permission, but something is going to have to be done about Mexico sooner or later. This massacre seems like a precipitating event if ever there was one.

    • #10
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:14 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Manny (View Comment):
    Perhaps we can have a strike against the cartels that are within US territory as a retaliation. But the evidence they are an operating cartel would have to be clear and convincing.

    I think we must already be going after them if they’re here, @manny. Don’t we at least arrest them if we catch them?

    • #11
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:23 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Sweezle Member

    Good questions Susan. Apparently we can do a lot by designating cartels as terrorist organizations. We can attack their financial operations and make life harder for them. And above all we can make our borders harder to penetrate.

    Even if we legalized all drugs legal in the U.S. that won’t do a thing to stop cartels and their human trafficking operations. Yes we have an obligation to protect our citizens but Mexico has no interest in tackling cartels. I can’t see an interest in offering military options.

    Hopefully we will start with financial penalties that might diminish their strength. And make our borders solid.

    • #12
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:31 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. Bob Thompson Member

    Sweezle (View Comment):

    Good questions Susan. Apparently we can do a lot by designating cartels as terrorist organizations. We can attack their financial operations and make life harder for them. And above all we can make our borders harder to penetrate.

    Even if we legalized all drugs legal in the U.S. that won’t do a thing to stop cartels and their human trafficking operations. Yes we have an obligation to protect our citizens but Mexico has no interest in tackling cartels. I can’t see an interest in offering military options.

    Hopefully we will start with financial penalties that might diminish their strength. And make our borders solid.

    This looks like a terrorism event. I like on the surface the idea of designating the cartels as terrorist organizations. What would this mean then with respect to the U.S. relationship with Mexico if the Mexican government is not able to stop the cartels from operating as they have been?

    • #13
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:44 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    You do not achieve and sustain cartel status without force. An industrial or agricultural cartel needs government forebearance and an ability to prevent competition. A criminal cartel cannot rely on government enforcement of its business, so wields sometimes horrific violence as a tool to protect and grow power and wealth.

    We have actually wiped out leadership of notorious cartels before. What followed was horrific violence as new contenders fought to fill the void we had created. They were contending for dollars, American dollars in black market goods and services. They still are.

    The latest atrocity, getting more play than the latest mass grave (evidence of an earlier atrocity), was apparently perpetrated by a local finger of the cartel now centered in Juarez, getting in the face of two nations, plus a rival cartel which claims control of Sonora. The attack was just inside the Sonoran border, representing an offensive advance by the cartel to the east. 

    • #14
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:46 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. She Thatcher
    She

    Sweezle (View Comment):

    Good questions Susan. Apparently we can do a lot by designating cartels as terrorist organizations. We can attack their financial operations and make life harder for them. And above all we can make our borders harder to penetrate.

    This (the technology part) was one of the things that impressed me about Carly Fiorina’s candidacy in 2016. She really seemed to “get” this sort of approach when dealing with those who wish us harm. I’m sorry that she either wasn’t asked, or didn’t choose, to become part of the administration after the election, because I think she has a lot to offer, in some specialized fields where, frankly, most of the bureaucrats and politicians who try to tackle them are at sea and look like ignorami, or worse. (As in, “What? Wipe the server? Like, with a cloth?”  That, and the fact that Hillary Clinton, and bunches of others would have been fired without a second thought, had they worked for the health care system in which I was one of the decision makers in such cases. In fact, I’d have fired her myself.)

     

    • #15
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:47 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    This looks like a terrorism event. I like on the surface the idea of designating the cartels as terrorist organizations. What would this mean then with respect to the U.S. relationship with Mexico if the Mexican government is not able to stop the cartels from operating as they have been?

    Good question, @bobthompson. There’s no reason to think they will be any more successful now than they have been in the past. Their president has already says violence against them doesn’t work. I think the strategy that works will be up to us.

    • #16
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:47 PM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    She (View Comment):
    This (the technology part) was one of the things that impressed me about Carly Fiorina’s candidacy in 2016.

    She was fearless, @she, and I think she would have made a difference. I suspect she would have blown off a request to be in the administration, and may have been asked.

    • #17
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:50 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Susan Quinn: Do we need to declare the cartels a terrorist organization first?

    That would be a good start. The definition in the US Code does not clearly apply because of the Cartels intent, so I encourage everyone to ask their Congress Rep to get behind HR. 1700. From the US Code:

    (1) the term “international terrorism” means activities that—

    (A)involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;
    (B) appear to be intended—

    (i)to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    (ii)to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    (iii)to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

    (C)occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum;

    I do encourage Trump to make the declaration. Surely some Obama judge will stop it, but it is worth trying.

    About 70,000 Americans die each year from drug overdoses; about 8/hour. Most are related to Cartel controlled drugs. If the ISIS2.0 was killing 8 Americans per hour, we’d do something. 

     

    • #18
    • November 7, 2019, at 1:57 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  19. Manny Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    Perhaps we can have a strike against the cartels that are within US territory as a retaliation. But the evidence they are an operating cartel would have to be clear and convincing.

    I think we must already be going after them if they’re here, @manny. Don’t we at least arrest them if we catch them?

    Yes but a military action has different rules of engagement. I think it would be different. 

    • #19
    • November 7, 2019, at 2:48 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Well, they are terrorists, so that would be valid and that would bring the actions that we use against other terrorist organizations into play. Their “pollution” and violence spill over into our country, so we would be defending our country. The victims were American citizens and I am in favor of just about anything that would make people stop and think before attacking Americans (anywhere.)

    This episode was so brutal that it enflames the emotions. It could be the thing (a thing) that would get more buy-in from Americans in supporting retaliation of some sort.

    • #20
    • November 7, 2019, at 3:16 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Bob Thompson Member

    EB (View Comment):

    Well, they are terrorists, so that would be valid and that would bring the actions that we use against other terrorist organizations into play. Their “pollution” and violence spill over into our country, so we would be defending our country. The victims were American citizens and I am in favor of just about anything that would make people stop and think before attacking Americans (anywhere.)

    This episode was so brutal that it enflames the emotions. It could be the thing (a thing) that would get more buy-in from Americans in supporting retaliation of some sort.

    Maybe something like this, if acted on by the President, will bring him new adherents, like people who have left Mexico with drug cartels being an influence in the action.

    • #21
    • November 7, 2019, at 3:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Roosevelt Guck Member

    One thing is for sure: if cartels regularly massacre innocent Americans on Mexican soil and Mexico does not take action, a US military response will be inevitable. Perhaps a swarm of predator drones armed with hellfire missiles? Who knows.

    • #22
    • November 7, 2019, at 3:43 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Henry Castaigne Member

    Why do these Mormon people who left America have dual citizenship? Didn’t they break away from the U.S.?

    • #23
    • November 7, 2019, at 3:43 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. Bob Thompson Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Why do these Mormon people who left America have dual citizenship? Didn’t they break away from the U.S.?

    I don’t like that America has accepted and joined with other countries to acknowledge dual citizenship. These victims of the attack may yet be referred to as Mormon but if they practice polygamy they are part of a breakaway separate from the church headquartered in Salt Lake City.

    • #24
    • November 7, 2019, at 3:49 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Why do these Mormon people who left America have dual citizenship? Didn’t they break away from the U.S.?

    They left but didn’t give up their citizenship.

    • #25
    • November 7, 2019, at 3:49 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. The Great Adventure! Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Why do these Mormon people who left America have dual citizenship? Didn’t they break away from the U.S.?

    They left but didn’t give up their citizenship.

    But they’ve presumably been gone for generations, right? At some point you have to question their citizenship, don’t you?

    • #26
    • November 7, 2019, at 4:21 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):
    But they’ve presumably been gone for generations, right? At some point you have to question their citizenship, don’t you?

    How would we judge them? I’m not crazy about their dual citizenship, but then I know a number of people who have dual citizenship: Israeli/U.S. So it’s hard for me to criticize.

    • #27
    • November 7, 2019, at 4:25 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Bob Thompson Member

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Why do these Mormon people who left America have dual citizenship? Didn’t they break away from the U.S.?

    They left but didn’t give up their citizenship.

    But they’ve presumably been gone for generations, right? At some point you have to question their citizenship, don’t you?

    I think there’s something true here. When you leave you don’t give up your American citizenship. What about your children? If they are born back in the U.S. on a visit, for example, then they are citizens for life no question. But I think there are some different laws that govern the children of expatriates if they are not born in the U.S.

    • #28
    • November 7, 2019, at 4:27 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Bob Thompson Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):
    But they’ve presumably been gone for generations, right? At some point you have to question their citizenship, don’t you?

    How would we judge them? I’m not crazy about their dual citizenship, but then I know a number of people who have dual citizenship: Israeli/U.S. So it’s hard for me to criticize.

    I don’t like dual citizenship.

    • #29
    • November 7, 2019, at 4:28 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  30. Ansonia Member

    I’m not under the impression that the slaughter of this family is the reason President Trump is offering help to the President of Mexico.

    A few weeks ago the Mexican army was defeated by a drug cartel in battle. Claire Berlinski wrote about it. There’s a link to what she wrote at Instapundit. There was also at least one article about it in The Federalist. I think Berlinski said the location of the battle (the drug cartel actually had tanks every bit as good as the Mexican army’s) was about a day’s drive from Arizona.

    • #30
    • November 7, 2019, at 5:50 PM PST
    • 5 likes