What is a Failed State? Wikipedia has a good starting definition which is worth repeating here:
“Common characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline . The term ‘failed state’ is a term of imprecise quantitative definition which is often used by political commentators and journalists to describe a state assessed to rate highly on one or more of the above attributes or indicators. The level of control required to avoid being considered a failed state varies considerably amongst authorities. Furthermore, the declaration that a state has “failed” is generally controversial and, when made authoritatively, may carry significant geopolitical consequences.“
Examples include Afghanistan, Haiti, North Korea, and Somalia – it maybe Mexico – or at least all of the Mexican states bordering the US. This report in Newsweek documents the seriousness of the drug wars currently taking place on the US border. The comparison to piracy problems emanating from Somalia and gripping the Suez Canal and other merchant shipping is only too real. Or there is the lawlessness in South Waziristan province of Pakistan which shelters the Taliban and advances it cause with expanding terrorism in Pakistan. Having a failed state on your border can quickly get out of hand.
As the Newsweek report clearly shows, the probability of the drug trade violence spreading North is very real. And of course, the demand for drugs in the US are its cause. But the degree of breakdown in controling the “the trade” in Mexico is both widespread and harrowing. The consequences have been described in the article – 1300 killings in ElPaso’s twin city of Ciudad Jaurez in this year alone. A doubling in deaths this year alone. And the problem of corruption reaches into the highest levels of the Mexican Federal government as well as police in the border cities and states.
Obviously this is a case of supply and demand. So far the suppliers of drugs have had to bear the largest burden; but eventually the demanders will suffer the wrath of uncontrolled drug corruption. And the US thought all it had was an illegal immigration problem on its border with Mexico. How about a Failed State or five?