How did it come to be that this is becoming America’s defining characteristic?

A malevolent, pathologically insane operator identifies a group of people as the “enemy” or a threat to the operator’s understanding of American liberty/values.  It begins stockpiling an arsenal of lethal weapons.  The capabilities of those weapons and their destructive power reveal their primary purpose is not only to kill people but to inflect mass casualties quickly, before anyone can respond.   It secretly plots one or more events to take out multiple targets.  It conducts surveillance and other actions designed to assist in planning the operation.   Without warning, the operative strikes, killing numerous human beings, including many “innocent” bystanders.  In the process, and during follow up, it endangers the lives and safety of countless others, including law enforcement personnel, first responders and others merely in the vicinity.  The victims, their families and communities are left to mourn and grapple with the aftermath.

So what does this describe?  Here are your choices:

  • The actions of a single gunman in Aurora, Colorado?
  • The actions of a single gunman in Arizona who shot Gabby Gifford and killed several others?
  • The actions of Mexican drug lords and gun runners in purchasing hundreds of automatic and other lethal weapons in Arizona, Texas, etc — all legal under US and state laws –  transporting them across the border, and using them to murder tens of thousands of Mexican citizens, army, and law enforcement persons?
  • Actions directed out of the White House, National Security Advisor, condoned by Congress, protected by courts, in compiling lists of “enemy” targets, including Americans, and authorizing lethal drone strikes on those targets that invariably kill innocent people, whether or not they hit their intended “list target”?

Though these examples have different details and excuses, they seem to share a disturbing set of common characteristics

  1. First, innocent people are being slaughtered by deliberate, calculated actions of the operators, whether rogues or regimes.
  2. All cases involve criminal homicides; they are all conducted outside the framework of any credible rule of law; that means the operators should be subject to the full force of the nation’s criminal laws, but that law has broken down.
  3. In every case, most, possibly all, of the victims are innocent of any offense.
  4. The operations are all enormously profitable to the arms industry.   The proliferation of such operations by rogues, or those who may fantasize about becoming “heroic” rogues, and regimes willing to employ this as the preferred instrument of national policy all add up to a huge American “industrial policy” in favor of manufacturing, selling and defending the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is America’s most successful and protected industry.
  5. Weapons manufacturers and dealers are given a free legal pass to be accomplices in mass murder.  Through intimidation and effective bribery via election contributions, the arms industry enjoys not only the right to sell with few limitations but also a broad-based immunity for the natural and expected consequences of the predictable use of their products.  Few other products are so predictably lethal yet enjoy such legal immunity.
  6. All of the broader costs of dealing with the victims’ immediate tragedies are socialized across publicly funded law enforcement, first responders, hospitals, convalescent support, and community efforts to deal with victim’s grieving and communities’ trauma.
  7. Both parties and virtually all candidates, including the Congress, state legislatures and governors, the President of the United States and Mr. Romney are jointly complicit in maintaining this profoundly lawless, criminal framework.  In Mr. Obama’s case, he is also the directly responsible “operative.”

 

Are drug lords “terrorists”?  What about their arms suppliers?  If there were a suspected al Qaeda operation in Mexico, and the US Government knew that arms dealers in US border states were selling massive quantities of arms for delivery to that al Qaeda operation, what do you think the US government would do to those arms dealers?  Would it seek to shut them down, and hold the owners criminally liable for material support to terrorists? Would it require financial institutions, credit cards and banks to stop financing the sales?  Would it insist on the arrest of buyers/sellers and delivery operations?

It’s simply not credible to claim Mexican/US drug lords are any less of a threat to local populations, governments and law enforcement officials.  Yet the US allows the arms industry on our side of the border to legally sell thousands of deadly, war-designed weapons, facilitating drug wars that have killed tens of thousands in Mexico and others in the US and completely undermined government authority in many regions.  How can this be justified?  How can someone like Darrel Issa and the US House investigate a splinter in our eye when there’s a redwood tree planted in our forehead?

There is a belief that if the US legalized (e.g. reclassify marijuana by assigning it to a different schedule) various illicit drugs, it would radically reduce the strength and threats of the drug cartels.  It seems worth trying.  But it also blindingly obvious we should treat the flow of lethal weapons legally purchased in the US and slipped across the border as an insane policy inimical to our national security, the rule of law here and there, and any credible foreign policy or economic goals.  It simple offends notions of justice for the Mexican people.  It’s time to shut down the lethal arms industry in the US and treat them as just another terrorist network, because they are.  The rogues and regimes will be even harder to stop.