Opinion | Mexico’s Fast Track Toward a Failed State – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Luis Torres/EPA, via Shutterstock

“MEXICO CITY — On a working visit here, I have dinner with one of the country’s elder statesmen and listen to him describe its greatest challenges. He names three: “Rule of law. Rule of law. And rule of law.”

The truth of the observation is underscored a few days later, when gunmen kill nine members of the LeBarón family along a back-country road in the northern state of Sonora. The motive for the massacre is unclear, but its barbarity is not: three women and six children, including infant twins, shot at close range and burned alive in their cars.

The episode has gained major attention in the U.S. largely because the LeBaróns are part of a longstanding American Mormon presence in northern Mexico. (George Romney, the late Michigan governor and Mitt’s father, was born in a Mormon colony in Chihuahua in 1907, which he was forced to flee as a child during the Mexican Revolution.)

But the reason the killings really matter is that they are yet another reminder that Mexico is on a fast track toward becoming a failed state.”

David Lindsay: Here are the top NYT comments, some of which I endorsed:

melissa
fingerlakes new york
Times Pick

And where do the drug cartels get their power? From money, by selling drugs. And who is buying the drugs? US citizens. Maybe we should frame the argument as the US has a drug problem that is affecting the social fabric of Mexico. For as long as I can remember, Mexico has had a corruption problem. What has changed is the extent to which drug money has flowed into the country from the US. We need to work together to solve this problem. Brett’s idea of a large powerful ‘civil military’ seems particularly dangerous as it raises the specter of a military junta taking over the country and destroying Mexico’s democracy.

10 Replies327 Recommend

 
Jon commented 7 hours ago

Jon
Darien CT

Legalize drugs, and this particular problem goes away. Doing so introduces other problems, of course, which can be managed with treatment, education and consequential punishment for misuse. No solution is perfect. But it’s past time to move beyond prohibition as a strategy.

11 Replies276 Recommended

 
AnObserver commented 7 hours ago

AnObserver
Upstate NY

We most definitely are part of this problem. Our “war on drugs” created the cartels. Our prohibition on drugs provides them the revenue they need. These cartel wars are no different than the inter-gang fights during Prohibition here. Our open and unfettered access to military grade weaponry along with the “iron pipeline” to Mexico provides them with arms. Of course there were weaknesses in Mexico that enabled this to happen but, like it or not, the single largest contributor to this issue is the United States.

2 Replies235 Recommended

 
Drspock commented 28 minutes ago

Drspock
New York
Times Pick

If we’re serious about the well being of Mexico we might start by reforming both our gun laws and our own drug laws. We are the final destination of the illegal drugs that make up the cartels empire. Our banks launder their money and make enormous fees in the process. Yet, prosecutions of those banks rarely occurs and when it does, like HSBC, they pay a fine and move on. Not a single bank executive has ever faced prosecution for laundering drug money. We also know that by decriminalizing drug use and treating it as a public health issues in the US we can substantially reduce the profits from that industry. Most of the guns wrecking havoc throughout Mexico come across the border from Texas, where they can be bought legally, shipped in illegally and sold for huge profits. If Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state, we seem oblivious to our contribution to their problems. Ultimately Mexico will have to address these issues. But the US should not be making that effort more difficult. Yet, we are and for some reason Stephens seems to omit this fact.

1 Reply193 Recommended

Opinion | Is China Heading for Crisis? – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“In 2001, Gordon Chang, an American lawyer who had spent many years in Hong Kong and Shanghai, published a book forebodingly titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” At the time, the thesis seemed improbable, if not preposterous.

It looks a great deal less improbable now.

China — or, rather, the Chinese regime — is in trouble. Tuesday’s gigantic parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic looked like something out of the late Brezhnev era: endless military pomp and gray old men. Hong Kong is in its fourth straight month of protests, marked and stained by this week’s shooting of an unarmed teenage demonstrator. The Chinese economy is growing at its slowest rate in 27 years, even when going by the overstated official figures.

Meantime, capital is fleeing China — an estimated $1.2 trillion in the past decade — while foreign investors sour on Chinese markets. Beijing’s loudly touted Belt-and-Road initiative looks increasingly like a swamp of corruption, malinvestment and bad debt. Its retaliatory options in the face of Donald Trump’s trade war are bad and few. And General Secretary Xi Jinping has created a cult-of-personality dictatorship in a style unseen since Mao Zedong, China’s last disastrous emperor.

Remember the “Chinese Dream” — Xi’s vision of China as a modern, powerful, and “moderately well-off” state? Forget it. The current task for Chinese leadership is to avoid a full-blown nightmare of international isolation, economic decline, and domestic revolt.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment
Bret writes well, but doesn’t seem to know much about China. In reading the comments, I am reminded that most Chinese do not care about democracy, but getting out of poverty, and they are pleased with their government.
One astute writer this summer, pointed out that China doesn’t need Hong Kong’s market anymore. The Chinese market makes China independent financially from Hong Kong. That writer suggested that the dissidents of Hong Kong are doomed. I am impressed that the CCP has announced a $500 billion push over the next five years into solar and sustainable energy. They have announced that all cars will be electric by 2030, and now have 42 companies making electric cars. The News Hour showed last night that you have to join a lottery to get a automoblie license, and it getting harder and harder to get a license for gas vehicles.
A Vietnamese professor teaching at a universtiy in the USA, recently reported that the top government officials of Vietnam have been bought out by the Chinese CCP, and are quietly not fighting China’s take over of the South China Sea. There is a question among my friends about whether a democracy like the United States, is capable of dealing with the existencial threat of the climate crisis.
If the oil and gas companies continue to control our politics for their short term profit, we might be the biggest threat to our own future.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | A Wretched Start for Democrats – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“Amigos demócratas,

Si ustedes siguen así, van a perder las elecciones. Y lo merecerán.

Translation for the linguistically benighted: “Democratic friends, if you go on like this, you’re going to lose the elections. And you’ll deserve it.”

In this week’s Democratic debates, it wasn’t just individual candidates who presented themselves to the public. It was also the party itself. What conclusions should ordinary people draw about what Democrats stand for, other than a thunderous repudiation of Donald Trump, and how they see America, other than as a land of unscrupulous profiteers and hapless victims?

Here’s what: a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.

They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off.”

Opinion | Hong Kong and the Future of Freedom – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Protesters faced off against the police in Hong Kong on Wednesday.CreditDale De La Rey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Imagine if in 2018 the Trump administration had proposed legislation that would allow the government, on nearly any pretext, to detain, try and imprison Americans accused of wrongdoing at secretive black sites scattered across the country.

Imagine, further, that 43 million Americans had risen in protest, only to be met by tear gas and rubber bullets while Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan rushed the bill through a pliant Congress. Finally, imagine that there was no effective judiciary ready to stop the bill and uphold the Constitution.

That, approximately, is what’s happening this week in Hong Kong.

An estimated one million people — nearly one in seven city residents — have taken to the streets to protest legislation that would allow local officials to arrest and extradite to the mainland any person accused of one of 37 types of crime. Political offenses are, in theory, excluded from the list, but nobody is fooled: Contriving criminal charges against political opponents is child’s play for Beijing, which can then make its victims disappear indefinitely until they are brought to heel.

In 2015, mainland authorities abducted five Hong Kong booksellersknown for selling politically sensitive titles and held them in solitary confinement for months until they pleaded guilty to various offenses. In 2017 Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua was abducted by Chinese authorities from the Four Seasons in Hong Kong. He hasn’t been seen publicly since, while his company is being stripped of its holdings.”

Opinion | Joe Biden: Be Proud of Your Crime Bill – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Joe Biden, right, with George Mitchell, speaking to reporters in 1994, after a vote ensuring the passage of the crime bill.CreditCreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Joe Biden has been attacked by politicians on the left — and now, thanks to Donald Trump, on the right — for his role in shepherding the 1994 crime bill through Congress. One of these attacks is simply cynical. The other is dangerous.

For those whose memories of early 1990s America are either foggy or nonexistent, it’s worth recalling what life in much of urban America was like back then. A sample:

“The death yesterday of a 41-year-old armed security guard from Long Island was not an uncommon occurrence in East New York,” The Times reported on Dec. 20, 1993. “Indeed, it followed 13 other killings in the 75th Precinct in the last nine days.”

“What was uncommon about the killing,” the report continued, “was that it broke a 20-year record for homicides in a single precinct, although with a footnote. Maurice Matola, the victim, was by unofficial count the 124th person killed this year in the 75th Precinct. … Last night, a shooting on Georgia Avenue made Anthony Broadnax, 17, the 125th person killed.”

Fast-forward more than two decades to another story in The Times about the same neighborhood. “Once the ‘Killing Fields,’ East New York Has No Murders in 2018,” ran an April 2018 headline, noting that the neighborhood had experienced a 129-day stretch without homicides. Citywide, New York ended last year with just under 300 murders, down 85 percent from the 1,960 it suffered in 1993.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Here is good work by Bret Stephens. He goes a bit off when he calls the work of Steven Levitt, which appeared in “Freakonomics,” as flaky. His link went to: “THE IMPACT OF LEGALIZED ABORTION ON CRIME* JOHN J. DONOHUE III AND STEVEN D. LEVITT “We offer evidence that legalized abortion has contributed signiŽcantly to recent crime reductions. Crime began to fall roughly eighteen years after abortion legalization. The Žve states that allowed abortion in 1970 experienced declines earlier than the rest of the nation, which legalized in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. States with high abortion rates in the 1970s and 1980s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990s. In high abortion states, only arrests of those born after abortion legalization fall relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime.” The work described so well in Freakonomics showed that the legalization did show a favorable correlation with the future drop in crime, and was in some ways more compelling than the so called police reforms, which didn’t work everywhere they were tried. They worked mostly where abortion had been legallized earlier than Roe v Wade. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | How Trump Helps MS-13 – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“. . . There are better options. Bill Clinton and then George W. Bush invested some $10 billion in counterinsurgency and counternarcotics efforts to rescue Colombia from the grip of jungle guerrillas and drug lords. The plan was expensive, took a decade, involved the limited deployment of U.S. troops, and was widely mocked.

Yet it worked. Colombia is South America’s great turnaround story. And nobody today worries about a Colombian migration crisis.

It’s always possible that Trump knows all this — and rejects it precisely because it stands a reasonable chance of eventually fixing the very problem that was central to his election and on which he intends to campaign for the next 18 months. Demagogues need bugaboos, and MS-13 and other assorted Latin American gangsters are the perfect ones for him.

But whether he gets that or not, it behooves Americans to know that the crisis at our border has a source, and that Trump continues to inflame it. The answer isn’t a big beautiful wall. It’s a real foreign policy. We used to know how to craft one.”

David Lindsay:

I thought this op-ed piece way above average, and praised Bret Stephens for being spot on in suggesting Trump might actually want to continue destabizing countries to our south. But these top comments do show, I was a little too generous on a major flaw.

RME
Seattle
Times Pick

While analysis is excellent, it’s perhaps inaccurate to blame Obama for creating the conditions that created the ISIS. That was created first by invasion of Iraq, which also benefited Iran. Then in particular by the decision to dissolve the Iraq army. And consider the US more or less told them if they surrendered – which they mostly did – they could keep thier jobs. Perhaps Obama should have negotiated harder to keep a US military presence in Iraq. But at the time there wasn’t much Democratic or Republican political support for continuing US military mission there. Blaming ISIS on that choice is a tad disingenuous.

6 Replies343 Recommended

Share
Flag
Susan commented May 11

Susan
Paris
Times Pick

“Colombia is South America’s great turnaround story. And nobody today worries about a Colombian migration crisis.” And Colombia has taken in millions of refugees fleeing the economic/political collapse in Venezuela. Despite limited means, the people of Colombia have responded to this humanitarian crisis with a compassion sorely lacking on our borders. Instead of threatening American intervention in Venezuela, why don’t we do something to help Colombia to deal with this crisis until Maduro is gone? Of course that wouldn’t provide as many opportunities for Trumpian grandstanding, but might actually do some good.

257 Recommended

Share
Flag
Cemal Ekin commented May 11

Cemal Ekin
Warwick, RI
Times Pick

“Barack Obama’s ill-judged military exit from Iraq in 2011 …” Hold on! First, why must we bring President Obama into every discussion? Second, why distort the truth? The decision to withdraw from Iraq was signed by President Bush and the Iraqi government did not want the US troops there. The perpetual “Obama defense” on everything is wearing thin. Please be more careful to state the facts. A simple search will find reliable sources fact-checking this tired story. Why do you still use it?

9 Replies252 Recommended

Opinion | The U.S. Military: Like the French at Agincourt? – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

United States Navy carrier strike groups on Wednesday in the Mediterranean Sea.CreditU.S. Navy/U.S. Navy, via Getty Images

“Early on a Sunday morning in 1932, a fleet of some 150 fighters, dive-bombers and torpedo planes struck the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The ships lying at anchor on Battleship Row sustained direct hits. Also hit were the base’s fuel storage tanks and the Army Air Corps planes parked nearby at Hickam Field.

The surprise was as complete as it was devastating. Only this was an Army-Navy war game, the attackers were American pilots operating from the carriers Saratoga and Lexington, and the bombs they dropped were sacks of flour.

The lesson of “Grand Joint Exercise 4,” as it was called, is that forewarned is not always forearmed. It took the actual sinking of much of the U.S. battle fleet nearly a decade later to bring the lesson home to U.S. military planners that the age of the carrier had arrived.

Fast forward to 2006, when a small Chinese diesel-electric submarine surfaced well within torpedo-firing range from the 80,000-ton Kitty Hawk, having gone undetected by the carrier and her escorts. That incident ought to have been a loud wake-up call to the Navy that the age of the super-carrier is drawing to a close just as surely as the age of the battleship was coming to an end by the 1930s.”

“. . . . The question is also at the heart of an incisive and important essay in the forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs by Christian Brose, the former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The traditional model of U.S. military power is being disrupted, the way Blockbuster’s business model was amid the rise of Amazon and Netflix,” Brose writes. “A military made up of small numbers of large, expensive, heavily manned, and hard-to-replace systems will not survive on future battlefields, where swarms of intelligent machines will deliver violence at a greater volume and higher velocity than ever before.”

The logic here is the same as the one that decided the Battle of Agincourt, where the humble and effective English longbow made short work of the expensive and vulnerable French cavalry. Today’s version of that cavalry consists of aircraft carriers priced at $13 billion apiece and fighter jets that go for $90 million (and cost $30,000 an hour to fly).”

– Opinion | Is Trump Keyser Söze — Or Inspector Clouseau? – By Bret Stephens – The New York Times

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist

March 28, 2019

766
“President Trump speaking to the media after a summary of the Mueller report’s findings was released.
Credit
Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Image
President Trump speaking to the media after a summary of the Mueller report’s findings was released.CreditCreditTom Brenner for The New York Times
Maybe we’ve had this all wrong.

Maybe Donald Trump isn’t just some two-bit con artist who lucked his way into the White House thanks to an overconfident opponent. Or a second-rate demagogue with a rat-like instinct for arousing his base’s baser emotions and his enemies’ knee-jerk reactions. Or a dimwit mistaken for an oracle, like some malignant version of Chauncey Gardiner from “Being There.”

Thanks to Robert Mueller, we know he isn’t Russia’s man inside, awaiting coded instruction from his handler in the Kremlin.

Maybe, in fact, Trump is the genius he claims to be, possessed — as he likes to boast — of a “very good brain.”

O.K., I don’t quite believe that. But going forward, it would be wise for all of his inveterate critics in the news media, including me, to treat it as our operating assumption. The alternative is to let him hand us our butts all over again, just as he did by winning the G.O.P. nomination and then the election, and then by presiding over years of robust economic growth.”

Opinion | The Real China Challenge: Managing Its Decline – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

  • 112
Sculptures on the campus of the Alibaba Group in Hangzhou, China.CreditCreditBryan Denton for The New York Times

“In 2009, The Economist wrote about an up-and-coming global power: Brazil. Its economy, the magazine suggested, would soon overtake that of France or the U.K. as the world’s fifth largest. São Paulo would be the world’s fifth-richest city. Vast new reserves of offshore oil would provide an added boost, complemented by the country’s robust and sophisticated manufacturing sector.

To illustrate the point, the magazine’s cover featured a picture of Rio de Janeiro’s “Christ the Redeemer” statue taking off from its mountaintop as if it were a rocket.

The rocket never reached orbit. Brazil’s economy is now limping its way out of the worst recession in its history. The murder rate — 175 people per day in 2017 — is at a record high. One former president is in jail, another was impeached. The incoming president is an admirer of the country’s old military dictatorship, only he thinks it should have killed the people it tortured.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first tout as countries of the future.

I thought about The Economist story while reading a deeply reported and thought-provoking series in The Times about another country of the future: China. The phrase “rise of China” has now become so commonplace that we treat it more as a fact of nature than as a prediction of a very familiar sort — one made erroneously about the Soviet Union in the 1950s and ’60s; about Japan in the ’70s and ’80s; and about the European Union in the ’90s and ’00s.”

Source: Opinion | The Real China Challenge: Managing Its Decline – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Bret Stephens, as my father liked to say, you’re not as dumb as you look.  Thank you for another terrific, mind-bending piece.

I hope your are right, but fear you are wrong. The Chinese appear to be preparing for the future, fighting for our lives and the lives of our grand children against climate change, better than the United States, which is deeply troubling. You do not appear to understand that climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis. Humans are putting 110 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every What.

Take a guess. Every year, month, week, day or hour. Take a guess.

Unfortunately the answer is daily. No wonder the coral and the shellfish are dying all over the oceans. Scientist who study the sixth extinction predict gloomily, that not only are we humans the cause of the sixth extinction, but we will be one of the myriad species that fails during it.

David Lindsay Jr. has written and performs a folk music concert and sing-a-long about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | The Midterm Results Are a Warning to the Democrats – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“For months we’ve heard from sundry media apocalypticians that this year’s midterms were the last exit off the road to autocracy. On Tuesday, the American people delivered a less dramatic verdict about the significance of the occasion.

In a word: meh.

Are you interested in seeing Donald Trump voted out of office in two years? I hope so — which is why you should think hard about that “meh.” This week’s elections were, at most, a very modest rebuke of a president reviled by many of his opponents, this columnist included, as an unprecedented danger to the health of liberal democracy at home and abroad. The American people don’t entirely agree.

We might consider listening to them a bit more — and to ourselves somewhat less.

The 28-seat swing that gave Democrats control of the House wasn’t even half the 63 seats Republicans won in 2010. Yet even that shellacking (to use Barack Obama’s word) did nothing to help Mitt Romney’s chances two years later. The Republican gain in the Senate (the result in Arizona isn’t clear at this writing) was more predictable in a year when so many red-state Democrats were up for re-election. But it underscores what a non-wave election this was.

It also underscores that while “the Resistance” is good at generating lots of votes, it hasn’t figured out how to turn the votes into seats. Liberals are free to bellyache all they want that they have repeatedly won the overall popular vote for the presidency and Congress while still losing elections, and that the system is therefore “rigged.””