- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Is there no problem a surge can’t fix? Michael Chertoff tells the New York Times that the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to build a fence and boost security on the Mexican border aren’t just about immigration, they’re also to keep Mexico’s drug violence on the other side of the border. If it does spill over, they have a plan:
“We completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge — if I may use that word — capability to bring in not only our own assets but even to work with” the Defense Department, Chertoff said in a telephone interview.
Officials of the Homeland Security Department said the plan called for aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on border trouble spots, with the size of the force depending on the scale of the problem. Military forces would be called upon if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol and local law enforcement were overwhelmed, but the officials said military involvement was considered unlikely.
I’m glad that DHS is paying attention to the unfairly overlooked drug violence in Mexico, but I doubt that U.S. military personnel operating in the southern United States would be any more effective at combating drug traffickers than the 45,000 troops that Mexico has deployed in its own territory. Or, for that matter, the Colombian military’s U.S.-funded efforts.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Photo: Mike Lutz/DHS via Getty Images