According to the Mexican government, nearly 8,000 soldiers will take on at least three mexican DTOs fighting for control of Juarez: Sinaloa, La Familia, and the Juarez Cartel.
As of this blog post, some 800 have already arrived, and the rest are on the way.
What a way to begin March: a month that could possibly be the bloodiest we've seen on record for Juarez.
This border city has registered the highest number of so-called "narco-executions" in the country, with 2,750 in the past 14 months.
Nearly 8,000 soldiers will be used to not only secure one city, but completely remove all presence of any drug trafficking organization from Juarez, said president Calderon. That's a big bet.
This is the first time he's poured this size of a force into one city. As we watch the fall out, I think it will be interesting to consider the outcome if Calderon does not succeed.
Borrowed from the idea of a failed state, the idea of a failed city could be one that has descended into anarchy, where most law abiding citizens leave, and those that remain are willing to work within a new system, full of criminals, vigilante gangs, the wretched, and run by one drug overlord.
This is a worst-case scenario. Best-case: Juarez becomes a city where the Mexican government tried and failed to exercise sovereignty within its own territory.
Unfortunately, the path to either conclusion above, or one where Calderon's bet pays off, and Juarez becomes a peaceful place, is one littered with bodies.
At some point, someone has to win. If it's not Calderon, then one DTO will have to triumph over the rest. And it's hard to see how three or more of these groups could come to some sort of time-share scheme for the plaza, or some sort of compromise. There's simply too much money at stake, and the nature of Mexican organized crime is that alliances never last as long as conflict.
If the Mexican military cannot save Juarez, we will watch as the various DTOs, vying for control, slowly and steadily rip the city apart, along the way rendering it ungovernable, insecure, and ultimately a black hole of death and violence just south of the US border.
Calderon has thrown down the gauntlet, making Juarez the new focus of his own personal War on Drugs.
On one hand, it is a very risky maneuver. And if he loses, he loses big. Mexican organized crime will have won one of the biggest battles to date in the war Calderon has waged since he entered office.
On the other hand, he's knocking on Obama's back door with the realities of violence in Mexico.
Calderon knows that bloodshed on the border will be a headline story for mainstream media in the US.
I can already see Lou Dobbs, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, O'Reily, and others invite a cadre of "experts" who will all weigh on on Calderon's big bet, and who will either admonish or support Obama for not getting more involved.
Calderon has repeatedly asked Washington for help. To date, his requests have been answered with some small results: the Merida Iniative, Project Reckoning, and Operation Xcellerator, to name a few. Obama is also slowly moving towards banning assault rifles again.
But even when we put all this together, it still is not enough.
How many more bodies will have to pile up before Washington realizes that Mexico can't do it alone? Calderon is determined to win, but if he loses, Obama will have no choice but to get involved and make bets of his own.
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