While the US military is being sent overseas in search of monsters to destroy, ignoring the good advice of the Founders, closer to home another war is brewing – right on the US-Mexican border. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry, killed on Dec. 21 near Rio Rico, Arizona, was murdered by drug cartel gunmen – using weapons smuggled across the US-Mexican border under the auspices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF).
While the cartels shoot up half of Mexico, and terrorize the other half, it seems they've been getting a helping hand from those geniuses in Washington, whose "law enforcement" agencies knowingly allowed sophisticated firearms to be smuggled across the border, into Mexico. As BATF special agent John Dodson told the House Oversight Committee:
"This is not a matter of some weapons that had gotten away from us or allowing a few to walk so that we could follow them to a much larger significant target. Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals was the plan. This was the mandate.
"ATF is supposed to be the guardians – the sheep dogs that protect against the wolves that prey upon us – especially along our southern border. But rather than meet the wolf head on, we sharpened his teeth, added number to his claws, all the while we sat idly by watching, tracking, and noting as he became a more efficient and effective predator."
This goes way beyond mere "blowback" – the CIA's terminology for actions that produce unintended and unpleasant consequences. Because it's hard to fathom exactly what was intended – unless it was the desire to sow chaos in Mexico and create a new threat to US citizens in the border states.
I've heard the official explanation – this was supposedly a plan to somehow entrap drug cartel chieftains – but it rings false when one realizes that this "mandate" involved the smuggling of thousands of guns, including assault rifles. Enough to equip a small army.
Now, armies exist for one purpose only: to fight and kill. Did the government officials behind "Fast and Furious" have anyone in mind when they imagined who the future targets of this army might be?
Certainly they never expected it would be agent Terry, and of course this is why the issue has become such a big deal in the US, where at least one congressional committee, chaired by Daryl Issa, is digging into this metastasizing scandal. The acting BATF director has been forced out, along with the US attorney for Arizona, and the resignations may not stop there: there are indications of involvement by other agencies, such as Homeland Security. Who knew what is now a hot issue, but what I want to know at this point is: what kind of chaos did they expect "Fast and Furious" to cause in Mexico – and to what purpose?
The US government has a horrific record in Latin America, and this history is well-known: during the cold war era, Washington armed and trained "death squads" throughout South and Central America, whose well-documented massacres must turn the stomach of any civilized human being. The "contras," the Salvadoran rightist gangs, as well as our favored caudillos – all received shipments of arms, as well as other assistance, from their US patrons. How is "Operation Fast and Furious" any different?
Governments don't allow such large weapons shipments to pass over their borders to foreign customers without having some foreign policy objective in mind – and, when it comes to the empire-builders in Washington, what other purpose could it be than the expansion of the imperial frontiers?
Brushing aside the official explanations and excuses, when you look at what Operation Fast and Furious actually accomplished – the arming and consolidation of a military force currently fighting Mexico's armed forces – the conclusion that we are actively involved in destabilizing the Mexican government is hard to avoid. It is a simple statement of fact.
It turns out that the arms benefited the Sinaloa cartel, led by a chap known as "El Chapo," another indication that the "entrapment" explanation is a cover story, and a not very believable one at that. If the idea was to entrap Mexican drug lords in a "sting" operation, then why focus on the Sinaloa gang to the exclusion of all others?
A more plausible explanation, given what we know now, is that the BATF and other US government agencies charged with protecting our borders decided to make an alliance with the Sinaloa cartel, to cultivate them, and perhaps turn them – and use them. You'll recall how the CIA made good use of our own Mafia chieftains, who hated Castro because he kicked them out of Cuba and were deeply involved in the numerous plots to kill him. It's only natural for governments to recruit criminals to do their dirty work, since both are parasites who live off the productive efforts of others. Their chief operating principle – might makes right – is practically identical. Their chief purpose – to maintain a monopoly on the use of force in a given geographical area – is also the same.
September 3, 2011
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
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