A popular item of discussion in some quarters of the dissident right is what will be the thing that puts the current regime in crisis. The instability we see in the West is largely due to the instability of America. The economy staggers on, but no one really believes it can continue as currently constructed. The political class is looking like a pirate ship, rather than orderly democracy. The elites operate like America is a smuggler’s cove and they are the pirates. Everywhere you look you see instability.
Usually, the two top answers for what will be the spark that sets the world ablaze are economic collapse and military failure. Maybe the economy will spin out of control, resulting in a great depression. This will be the spark that ignites public anger toward a ruling class they already despise. On the other hand, maybe a great military catastrophe, something like the Varian Disaster. This will destroy the America military reputation and the order that depends upon it will begin to unravel around the globe.
Another possibility is something small that at the time seems insignificant, but in the long run turns out to be an inflection point. There is the trajectory before the event and the trajectory after the event. A great example of an event that was interpreted one way at the time, but was later seen as a great turning point was the Roman defeat of Carthage and Corinth. The consequences of these two victories changed the trajectory of Rome, creating the conditions for the shift from republic to empire.
If we are looking around for some small event, or seemingly small, that could turn out to be an inflection point today, the Mexican failure to deal with the Sinaloa cartel this past week is a good choice. The operation by the Mexican government to arrest Ovidio Guzmán López, the son of former drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, and then turn him over to the U.S, may be more than a typical Latin bungle. It has revealed that Mexico is a failed state, largely controlled by large criminal cartels.
At some level, even the dullest member of the America foreign policy elite understands that Mexico is not a normal country. The Mexican government does not have control of its territory. Much of the population is ruled over by local warlords, who operate various criminal trades. Some of those warlords wear expensive suits and show up at Davos to party with the global elites. The vast manufacturing and distribution operations in Mexico are there because global business can operate there outside the law.
From the perspective of global business and the flunkies they employ in our government, this lawlessness has been a boon, but it comes with a price. That was made clear last week when the Sinaloa cartel forced the Mexican government to hand back their leader. If you live in Mexico, you now know who is actually in charge of that part of Mexico. More important, the Mexican government and the cartel now know who is in charge and they know the other side knows too. It was clarifying.
Well, it should have been clarifying. Judging from the reactions of official Washington, it appears they barely noticed. In the long run, this staggering ignorance of what is happening just over the border may be the most important item of this age. While serious-faced politicians lecture us about the need to build a wall between Syria and Turkey, we have a new Afghanistan forming up to our south. Like Afghanistan, Mexico is now run by warlords, willing to do business with anyone.
The stupidity of the American ruling class will no doubt result in doing the dumbest thing possible in Mexico. That’s helping the Mexican government assassinate and arrest some leading cartel figures. Rather than address the problems of Mexico, it will be an effort to maintain it as a free zone for well-connected pirates to operate outside the law, but with more compliant warlords in place. The result will be an acceleration into anarchy and eventually the collapse of Mexico as a country.
Killing the local warlords was a strategy American employed during the War on Drugs in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Most urban areas were run by a local heroin kingpin, who controlled the drug trade in the city. He also controlled the people in the drug trade, which meant limiting the street warfare. The urban black population fell back into the normal pattern of governance. This meant big man rule, where the heroin kingpin operated like a local chieftain. He kept things under control.
In order to look good on television, the authorities decided to combat the drug problem by arresting these local drug kingpins. That allowed them to make flashy arrests, where they would display stacks of drugs, cash and guns. This, of course, was about getting bigger budgets by gaining public support for their efforts. The result was a busting up of these local cartels, but they shattered into thousands of small gangs. The result was the urban warfare we still see today. A place like Baltimore is a tribal war zone.
Turning large swaths of Baltimore into a no-go zone is easily overlooked, as people can just move away and avoid it. The same is true of the Middle East. As we have seen, the occasional exploding Mohamed has not caused the public to turn on the ruling class in great numbers. Mexican cartels taking over American towns and turning cities into war zones would not go overlooked. That is what’s coming as the American ruling class tries to maintain Mexico as a free zone for their pirate buddies.
On the other hand, if there are some sober minded people left in the American ruling class and they wake up to what is happening to our south, it could be the turning point in the ruling elite. The collapse of Mexico could force the American ruling class to sober up and start acting like a ruling class. That means protecting the interests of the people over whom they rule, by making sure the ruling class always has the public interest at the forefront of their mind. We become our greatest ally again.
The future is not written, but for those who like to think about what comes next, what bookends this interregnum, the chaos of Mexico is a good study. It is that reality which will not go away if our rulers stop believing in it. At some point, they either address it and solve it or it forces a change in rulers. There’s simply no way the public will tolerate the chaos of Mexico spilling in their cities and towns. That means the rulers, if they wish to remain rulers, will not be able to tolerate it either.
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