The Strategic Studies Institute's musings on "narcoinsurgency" have earned enough attention this week to provoke a denial from Genaro García Luna. The timing of this is more than a bit odd, since the Institute's big report deeming Mexico's security problems a "narcoinsurgency" came out last year, and I'm not aware of any new one.
Also, the Center for a New American Security assures us that the war against Mexican drug gangs can be won, Excélsior reports. The same study says that Mexican gangs operate in 230 cities in the US and Canada (more on that later). The timing of these stories is similarly odd, since the original study was released in September.
In any event, hearing that Mexico's fight against drug gangs can be won is as ever frustrating, given that we know that regardless of any single gang's demise, the drug trade will continue as long as there exists a market for it. We really should avoid using "win" and all of its derivations in this context. Mexican security can be improved, and individual gangs can be defeated, but the war cannot be won. At least not in a democratic, free-market society.
And, like Noel Maurer (at least, I think he's written this), I'm not a big fan of the "narco" modifier in general. It's either an insurgency or it isn't (I'd say not). The word "narco" is really immaterial, and seems to serve as a bar-lowering de-intensifier. It's like calling the Farc narco-revolutionaries; what real insight do we get from that label? It's a semantic trick.