Saturday, May 21, 2011

Juárez Safer, More Heroic

Ahead of a trip to Juárez in which the border city was, rather oddly, to be given the ceremonial title of Ciudad Heroica, Calderón announced on Twitter that murders have dropped from 11 a day to four a day inside city limits. He also said that the Federal Police strategies were behind the drop.

This illustrates a couple of points: Twitter is probably not the best venue for policy announcements that require some detailed explanations, and Mexican authorities have never invested sufficient energy in debating and explaining the security tactics and strategies from one city to the next. Assuming Calderón is right in attributing the drop to the Federal Police (which he probably isn't), the obvious question what are they doing differently? Why are they succeeding while the army failed? And, of course, how can that success be repeated elsewhere? These are obvious questions; if the Federal Police truly is responsible, then there should be good answers to them. The Federal Police announced in November a security plan based on "islands of security", which seemed a lot like some of the urban COIN tactics employed in Iraq. Was that the reason for the drop in murders? Whatever the case, more info please!!

The difference between the coverage of Mexican insecurity and Iraq a few years ago is reall striking. Five years ago (give or take) newspapers and TV shows and policy journals and government press conferences went into great detail about the successes in Tall Afar, the failures in Anbar, the Clear-Hold-Build, the intricacies of FM 3-24, et cetera. There was a broad, government-led, media-supported effort to make sense of the security challenges and to find a way forward based on applying different tactics and learning from our mistakes. In Mexico, in contrast, Calderón just seems to be interested in blindly putting out fires where he might. That may be an unfair characterization, but he enables it by limiting his analysis of the situation to 140 characters at a time.

No comments: