January 19, 2009
MEXICO CITY — Indiscriminate kidnappings. Nearly daily beheadings. Gangs that mock and kill government agents.
This isn’t Iraq or Pakistan. It’s Mexico, which the U.S. government and a growing number of experts say is becoming one of the world’s biggest security risks.
The prospect that America’s southern neighbor could melt into lawlessness provides an unexpected challenge to Barack Obama’s new government. In its latest report anticipating possible global security risks, the U.S. Joint Forces Command lumps Mexico and Pakistan together as being at risk of a “rapid and sudden collapse.”
“The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels,” the command said in the report published Nov. 25.
“How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state.”
Retiring CIA chief Michael Hayden told reporters on Friday that that Mexico could rank alongside Iran as a challenge for Obama _ perhaps a greater problem than Iraq.
The U.S. Justice Department said last month that Mexican gangs are the “biggest organized crime threat to the United States.” National security adviser Stephen Hadley said last week that the worsening violence threatens Mexico’s very democracy.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently told The New York Times he ordered additional border security plans to be drawn up this summer as kidnappings and killings spilled into the U.S.