Today’s article by Randal C. Archibold in the New York Times describing one of the worst cases of corruption in the Mexican army is, at best, extremely alarming. This especially is the case because it is this same institution charged with stabilizing a society facing a variety of problems including violence between drug cartels resulting in more than 50,000 deaths in the last five years.
At first glance the charges against three Mexican Generals and one Lieutenant Colonel seem beyond comprehension: these are the same military leaders with whom American law enforcers are supposed to collaborate since the Merida Initiative signed by Congress in 2008. This agreement provides $1.4 billion in American training and equipment to those in Mexico fighting the Mexican drug cartels. And it is the Mexican army lead by these same generals and colonel-under the auspices of President Calderon-called upon to put Mexican drug traffickers out of business.
But hold everything for a second! Let’s try to understand what this same state of affairs might look like from the Mexican point of view. In other words, let’s throw out our ethnocentric tendencies-our easy critique of another culture premised upon our own nationalist biases-to place this same set of events within a more objective perspective.
For starters, there would be no Mexican drug cartels, along with the tremendous profits they generate, but for our demand for their products. In every rural community and city throughout our nation we can see the ravages of meth, cocaine, and other illegal drugs upon our neighborhoods, our schools, our youth, and our fundamental beliefs and values.
Unlike Mexico, is our country really so free of corruption? Here’s a recent short list: a million dollars wasted at a Las Vegas convention by the GSA; millions mismanaged by our National Weather Service; billionaires who spend who “legally” spend $10 million and more on their favorite presidential candidate; Boeing’s waste of more than $1 billion in a virtual border wall; Raytheon’s failed Spectroscopic Portal; and on and on. But don’t forget the recent $2 billion “mistake” by JP Morgan and the charges of insider trading in the Facebook IPO.
The Border Patrol reports significant increases in arrests of its agents who are bribed by the Mexican drug cartels. At the same time those in upper management, as I have documented in my research, have been allowed in the past simply to resign and keep their pensions.
So before we sling mud at the Mexican army and their leaders, maybe we need to look a little bit closer at our own society from a less ethnocentric point of view. Graft and corruption are no stranger to either our local, state, or federal officials, the private sector, or law enforcement. At the very least more understanding of Mexican society is certainly needed when law enforcers from both sides of the border get together to find solutions to the Mexican drug cartels. At the same time, more understanding of our own society by our law enforcers is also required lest they fall easy prey to the ethnocentric belief that Mexico owns graft and corruption while the United States has never witnessed its dark shadow.