Sep 13, 2010

Whack-a-mole: COIN (Counter-insurgency strategy) in Mexico?

Here is an analysis of various "whack-a-mole" scenarios that could be part of the thinking of the Obama administration regarding its strategy for Mexico. The thinking of the administration began to come to light this past week with the comments of Secretary of State Clinton and administraion's responses to her.

Adam Isacson's blog | Just the Facts: Secretary Clinton’s insistence that Mexico’s gangs and cartels are “morphing” into an insurgency still stands (unaddressed by President Obama's response). This is a concern, because some poor policy choices can result from viewing criminal gangs and narcotrafficking syndicates – whose only truly political goal is to keep government from disrupting their business – as “insurgents” or revolutionaries.

If gangs and cartels are insurgents, it would follow that the proper response would be counterinsurgency (COIN). The term refers to the process of regaining government control over territory and populations in zones controlled by anti-state movements. While it includes civilian elements, COIN is ultimately a military strategy.

... It is unclear from her remarks whether Secretary Clinton is, in fact, implying that Mexico needs a classic counterinsurgency campaign or a beefed-up military offensive. If so, then she is recommending the wrong course for Mexico... Sept. 10, 2010, Just the Facts, a collaborative project of the Center for International Policy (the sponsor of the Americas Program), the Latin American Working Group and the Washington Office on Latin America

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