CMRJ 526 APUS 500 Week 7 Issue if National Security Discussion Response
American Public University System
500 word discussion response with 2 citations total (does not need to be my sources). 250 words and 1 citation per numbered paragraph below:
1. Confronting the threats caused by drug cartels and terrorist organizations along the southwest border of the U.S. continues to be an issue of major concern. The merging of these criminal organizations with each other and with corrupt elements of government in Latin America, has transformed the security concerns of the U.S. and other Western Hemispheric democracies. In his investigative report: “A line in the sand: countering crime, violence and terror at the southwest border,” Congressman Michael T. McCaul discusses the House Committee on Homeland Security’s concerns on the violence and crime caused by transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and state sponsored, Muslim extremist groups like Iran’s Hezbollah. The report also analyzes how although the U.S. has tightened its security at its borders and ports of entry, the southern border remains a vulnerable area in its national security.
U.S. officials from both defense and security intelligence communities attest that terrorist actors are constantly using the southwest border. This assertion has been confirmed by the arrests of aliens from 35 different special countries. As scrutiny has increased for legal travel, terrorists and persons of interest seek the relative openness of the southwest border as a viable option to enter the U.S. In addition, established smuggling networks, corrupt politicians and public officials offer a level of reasonableness to this possibility. Throughout the last decade, large Muslim communities like Iranians have settled in Latin American countries such as Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia; as well as the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina (McCaul, M.T. 2012). intelligence reports confirm how these communities harbor sympathizers od extreme ideologies and state sponsored terror organizations like Hezbollah. In addition, to terrorist activities, evidence collected proves how Hezbollah is actively involved in drug smuggling and money laundering operations. Of particular concern is Iran’s confessed relationship with Venezuela. These two countries share a distaste for the U.S. and have publicly expressed a wish to destroy what they perceive as U.S. imperialism.
Another worrisome relationship is that of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and drug cartels. In addition to drug smuggling, these TCOs also engage in human trafficking, kidnapping and weapons smuggling. In addition, these TCOs have a footprint expanding across the border and into many cities inside the U.S. Spillover violence also follows the footsteps of TCOs reflecting into communities and law enforcement personnel. U.S. Border Patrol agents continue to be the biggest target in law enforcement, reporting an increase of 35 percent since 2007; including 13 deaths. Perhaps the most significant on duty death was that of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December, 2010. Agent Terry was murdered by illegal aliens armed with weapons acquired through Operation Fast and Furious (Attkisson, S. 2017). Conversely to the ongoing violence related to TCOs, critics argue that the crime rate in border communities is lower than the national average. These opposers make two big mistakes in their assertions (disingenuously or ignorance). First, they inadvertently reference cities such as San Diego, CA and El Paso, TX to highlight their high safety rating, without realizing that these same cities were once focus areas where significant efforts were made over the years to augment personnel, technology and infrastructure along the international boundary line with Mexico. Secondly, they do not take into account that violence within anti law enforcement groups often go unreported due to the inherent nature to not talk to police.
Congressman McCaul highlights how the drug cartel phenomena in Mexico came to be as a byproduct of the historical relationship between the cartels and a single party the Mexican government. This political monopoly provided the impunity for drug cartels to freely operate until the 2000’s election where a new PAN party (National Action Party) beat the institutionalized government and put the cartels on notice. The resulting war on drugs pinned the Mexican federal government against the cartels, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths across all groups of society. Congressman McCaul concludes by establishing that the power of Mexican cartels over Mexican government is likely to continue as long as government officials do not draw “a line in the sand”.
In conclusion, only a multinational and whole of government approach will be effective to combat TCOs and extra regional actors. Furthermore, this challenge must be spearheaded by the U.S. because of its commitment to legitimacy and influence across the globe. Continuing both domestic initiatives such as leveraging Department of Defense technologies, employing National Guard equipment and personnel, and international measures like the Merida Initiative are great examples of how to make not only the southwest border safer but the Western Hemisphere.
Attkisson, S. (2017). Fast and furious whistleblower says he became an ‘enemy of the state’. The daily signal. https://www.dailysignal.com/2017/06/26/fast-and-furious-whistleblower-says-he-became-an-enemy-of-the-state/
Discussion on Kingpins and corruption:targeting transnational organized crime in the Americas
2. As stated in the executive summary of the 2017 American Enterprise Institute report: “Kingpins and corruption”, the fight against drug related violence and terror on the U.S.’s Southwest Border are concentrated in three main points. The first problem at the crux of the issue is the need to directly combat transnational organized crime (TOC) and their trafficking networks. Secondly, Western Hemisphere democracies must focus to sanction those countries allowing governmental corruption and hostile actors to operate. Third and finally, nations led by the U.S. must coalesce and go after profits and capital amassed from their illicit activities.
Firstly, TOC has impacted Latin America politically, socially, and economically. What was once a law enforcement issue, has become a national security crisis. As we learned in our readings, TOC and non-hemispheric hostile actors are related. TOC operates through corruption and the draining of the national economy and national security. Corruption and violence resulting from these organizations undermines public confidence in government institutions and creates an environment ripe for instability and unrest. Time and time again, Mexico’s governance institutions have proven too weak to counter the transnational crime threatening it. This makes cities in Mexico experience homicide rates similar to active war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq. For example, the city of Juarez reported 1,247 homicides in 2018; a threefold since 2014 (United Press International, 2019).
Secondly, when studying the threat of hostile extra-regional actors pose to Latin American security, Iran has increased its activity in Latin America. Besides opening several embassies, including one in Mexico, Iran promotes extreme Islamic activities in the region. This is of concern, principally because of Iran’s connection to state sponsored terrorist groups like Hezbollah and its connection to drug trafficking and money laundering (AEI. 2017). In addition, countries like Iran foster radical ideologies like terrorists and the use of terrorist weapons among the populace. Furthermore, they hinder democratic values and global economic opportunities, more so than organized crime and political corruption. This explain why countries with high citizen insecurity have aligned with totalitarian Sates like Iran. Hostile extra-regional actors pose a bigger to the entire Western Hemisphere because of its capacity to engage in asymmetrical warfare across the entire theatre of operations, from nuclear threat, cyber attacks, to information operations or by proxy. For example, Iran could soon rely on countries like Venezuela to plan an attack against the U.S., and present itself as a viable alternative to U.S. imperialism and aggression in Latin America; just like Russia did with Cuba during the cold war.
Thirdly, democratic nations in the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S. must come together and employ shared tactics and legitimacies to compete on the global stage against the threats like terrorism and hybrid warfare from extra regional actors. The only way to overcome these threats is by promoting an asymmetrical strategy. These non kinetic means can prove to be more effective means to wage war. Namely, TOC and Hezbollah operatives and their associates should be economically sanctioned to stop from making any revenue(s). in addition, visas and other travel permits should be revoked to those implicated with TOCs and groups like Hezbollah. A final example in the fight against TOCs and extra regional actors is the expansion and development of new legislation against TCOs and terrorist groups from operating in the Western Hemispheric countries.
Countries must continue to engage in a multinational strategy against common existential threats. Measures like the Merida initiative in Mexico is a good example of a strategy against TCOs that has remained effective by taking into account the adaptability of the enemy to create a whole of government response. These efforts include better training, better equipment, improving the judicial system, and communication across the branches of government. By expanding measures such as these to other Latin American countries like Colombia and Venezuela is the only recourse in order to win the asymmetrical warfare against today’s and tomorrow’s kingpins.
American Enterprise Institute. (2017). Kingpins and corruption: targeting transnational organized crime in the Americas.
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