Mexico’s Civil War Gets Uncomfortably Close

The war in Mexico is getting a little too close for comfort. From the AP:

The first bullets struck El Paso’s city hall at the end of a work day. The next ones hit a university building and closed a major highway. Shootouts in the drug war along the U.S.-Mexico border are sending bullets whizzing across the Rio Grande into one of the nation’s safest cities, where authorities worry it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed.

At least eight bullets have been fired into El Paso in the last few weeks from the rising violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous places. And all American police can do is shrug because they cannot legally intervene in a war in another country. The best they can do is warn people to stay inside.

“There’s really not a lot you can do right now,” El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles said. “Those gun battlesare breaking out everywhere, and some are breaking out right along the border.”

Arguably, the government of Mexico is losing this war. The local police forces are riddled with corruption as evidenced by the recent murder of the mayor of Santiago. Seven members of the Santiago police force have been arrested in connection with the slaying including, incredibly, his bodyguard.

As the violence inevitably spreads into the border states, there is scant evidence that Washington understands the magnitude of the problem or has any credible plan to deal with it. Today it might be no more than stray bullets (incredible that I  minimize that fact isn’t it?), tomorrow it could easily be pitched battles within an American border town.

The first priority of any government is the protection of its citizens. Tough choices might well face the Obama administration if the war in Mexico proceeds on its present course.

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