From the Front Lines of American Foreign Policy

I was having a glass of wine by the fire last night, outside, with a couple of friends and my brother. They have a pretty interesting jobs, working for the federal government, and they were talking about US foreign policy.

“I’ve been on the front lines of US foreign policy failure in two countries,” Bob bragged. “Mexico and Iraq. And I’m not the smartest guy by a long shot, but it’s hard to believe in a stronger case of failure than in those places.”

“Yep” said Frank, the quiet one.

“Tell me.” I said, trying to coax out what the wine was doing naturally.

“Those Mexicans are smart,” he said, which I wasn’t expecting. “They have probably the most successful foreign policy of any country on the planet.”

That, I really wasn’t expecting.

He continued. “Mexicans have so arranged their foreign affairs that they have basically unlimited immigration rights for their poorest to move to the United States. They go up there, get a job, buy property, or get on welfare, and then send money Mexico to support their families. Imagine the trillions of dollars that saves the Mexican government every year. Instead of building jobs in Mexico, they send their excess labor north and, employed or not, are no longer a burden to Mexico, but actually send money back to their homeland.”

“Second,” he continued, “the Mexican drug trade is very close to being as big as the Mexican petroleum industry. They move drugs north and cash south. The cash supports the politicians and the Mexican economy.”

“Third, the Americans pretend to fight a war on drugs and provide a billion dollars to Mexico to fight a war they really have no interest in winning. I mean, really, does Mexico want to put its second largest industry out of business to help of the Americans? I don’t think so.”

“Americans have chosen to support this arrangement by keeping open borders by subsidizing Mexican police and the military, and by sending billions of dollars in aid, in foreign remittances, and in jobs to Mexico.”

“And that doesn’t include payments for the drugs,” said Frank.

“The US isn’t threatening to invade Mexico,” Bob continued, “it is the Mexicans invading the US, and the Americans are convinced that they have a right to do so. Those Mexicans are smart. Their foreign policy is amazing. They’ve convinced us all they are just a bunch of third world victims of poverty and inequality, but, wow, they are way smarter than we are when it comes to foreign policy.”

Frank piped up — he works in law enforcement. “Oh, it’s worse than that. Remember that big kerfuffle when Blackwater lit up that corner in Baghdad and seventeen Iraqis died? And even though Blackwater was protecting American diplomats, the US government charged them with murder. The press and Congress howled over US “mercenaries” killing “innocent” people over there.”

“That ain’t nothing,” Frank continued. “I mean, that is nothing compared to the mercenaries invading the United States, attacking law enforcement officers, selling poison to Americans and setting up paramilitary intelligence organizations inside the United States.”

I’d never thought about it that way.

Frank continued “those drugs cartels are covert military and intelligence organizations that have invaded the United States, are loyal to themselves and to Mexico, are tacitly encouraged by their government because of the millions of dollars that line the politicians pockets, and we don’t do a damn thing about it except play-act. You talk about the ultimate covert operations —deniable, effective and a win on all counts for Mexico and Mexicans.”

“The US Congress practically wanted to lynch Erik Prince for being a greedy mercenary, yet these Mexicans are doing this a thousand times over in our own country and we pretend like its no big deal. Mexico’s greatest ally is the very country it is fighting against; we are unwilling to face the facts as they are.”

Bob took a sip of wine and a bit of deer meat from the barbecue and continued his story.

“All those millions of Mexicans invading the US really are Mexicans — they aren’t Americans — they remain loyal to Mexico, speak Spanish and have special status in the US to pursue a Mexican identity via organizations like ‘MEChA’ and ‘La Raza.’ Not even the white folk in the US can do that.”

“So, like I said, those Mexicans are a lot smarter than Americans when it comes to foreign policy — this is a complement. I wish our foreign policy was as successful as theirs,” Bob finished.

I wanted to say a bad word, but my kids were present so I didn’t. I’d never though of things that way.

“Your turn, Frank,” Bob said to his colleague. “Tell him about Iraq.”

“I just came back from a six month TDY with my agency over there,” Frank said.

“Imagine being at war against Iraq since 1991, really, the start of the First Gulf War. We drove them out of Kuwait. Then we set up the no fly zone. Then 9/11 happened. Then we invaded Afghanistan, then we invaded Iraq and deposed it’s government. It is now 2015. And we are still at war over there. And now that we’ve gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, found out there were no weapons of mass destruction, crushed Al Qaeda, we are watching Iraq implode. The Iranians juggled the Iraqi government like puppets because they are all Shia. The Sunnis, who used to run the government, are on the outside supporting ISIS, our newest enemy. The Kurds in the north are agitating for independence and largely have it with their own oil reserves and by having their own supply of arms. The Iraqi government invites the Russians to bomb Iraq to get rid of Isis, shares intelligence with the Iranians, Russians and Syrians, and the US is sitting on it’s hands unwilling to do anything about it.”

“Reminds me of Vietnam,” I said, trying to sound intelligent among these experts. I was hoping they wouldn’t ask “how so?” but they ignored me.

“So we have zero to show for the thousands of American boys dead in those wars and tens of thousand permanently crippled. And a trillion dollars spent.”

“So what can we do, we can’t just leave Iraq,” I said.

Frank said, “why not?”

“Because Colin Powell said ‘you break it you own it,’ we’ve become part of the problem and so we have to fix it.”

They both looked at each and then just looked at me like I hadn’t heard a word at all. It was silent for a while.

“Actually, why not?” Frank whispered. “I mean, are we going to be endlessly involved in an unwinnable war? At some point it’s just time to fold. We’ve lost our bet. It doesn’t get better by wishful thinking or dumping more American lives or money in. Someone has to call it.”

“And Mexico?” I asked.

“Solve that problem in a heartbeat,” Frank, the law enforcement officer, said. “Set the Texas Free Militia on them boys and that border will be shut down yesterday. Won’t cost us a dime. We’ll have volunteers lined up from Montana to El Paso on that one, and a lot of them will be Mexican-Americans,” emphasizing the Americans part, “who wave the American flag, not the stinking Mexican flag, and are loyal to this country. They know what we have here and are just as affected by these mercenaries as all of us are.”

When the wine was gone and the children in bed and the women making hints about bed-time we broke up and went our separate ways.

“Why couldn’t a Congressman have been here tonight?” I thought, “or a journalist who could write about it?” But there wasn’t. I wondered what they all talked about in the evenings around a campfire on a hunting trip when the snow was gently falling. Makes me wonder what happened to my country. And how we’re going to get it back.

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