Here is an excerpt from this article on Al Jazeera:
"The US does not believe that Mexico's military is capable of winning the country's violent drug war, classified memos released by WikiLeaks have revealed. US diplomats drew a highly critical picture of the country's armed forces, which were described as bureaucratic and unfit to take on "sophisticated" drug trafficking organisations (DTOs), in cables published on Thursday. The diplomatic memos paint a picture of an embattled Mexican government, nervous about losing whole areas of the country to the drug cartels. The leaked material also shows Mexican officials petitioned the US government to assist in focusing the crackdown on the country's most violent cities... The cables' assessments contrasted with Calderon's insistence that as a US ally, Mexico is gaining ground over the drug gangs... The cable, however, praised Mexico's navy - who killed Arturo Beltran Leyva, a drug lord, in December, 2009, in the government's biggest victory yet against the cartels - as a sharper force than the army... But it warned of "considerable tension" between the two forces." Link to Full Story
Analysis: For anyone who has even been remotely following the drug war in Mexico, none of this information should come as even slightly surprising, and only confirms what Mexico observers have known for some time. For example, one excerpted statement claims that "official corruption is widespread." Really? You don't say.
Here is the Mexican government's response to the leak:
"The set of leaked documents and especially their contents are incomplete and inaccurate, reflecting a selection and a vision whose criteria are unknown," the statement from Mexico's foreign ministry said. "The leaked documents respond to specific events or times with no narrative context, which prevents proper evaluation and weighing of their relative importance."
This doesn't change the fact that the assessments made in those cables are accurate and widely known and acknowledged.
There are a few points in the cables that are notable. First, that the US government has some influence over the Mexican government's decisions in the drug war. The cables imply that the decision to pull back the Mexican army from Juárez was partially influenced by Washington. The second point is that some of the Mexican military and federal police successes in the drug war are partly owed to US intelligence. Third, the Mexican government has decided in many cases to NOT cut off its nose to spite its face and ask the US government for help. These are all significant things because of Mexico's history of fiercely guarding its sovereignty and not wanting much of anything from the US. These three points confirm the US assessment in the cables that the Mexican government is indeed in dire straits when it comes to fighting drug traffickers.
One final point I want to make that is relevant to the US government's assessment in these leaked cables: the Mexican drug war cannot be won—it can only be managed. In addition, I think it’s a mistake for anyone, be it government officials, law enforcement officers, journalists, academics, or casual observers, to look at it from a win/loss perspective.
Determining whether a conflict has been won or lost has historically been easy in some cases, and extraordinarily difficult in others. We can easily say who won the American Civil War, and because we’re not speaking German, I think we can say the Allies won World War II. But did we “win” in Iraq? Technically, they have some semblance of a democratic government, but the political infighting and insurgent violence continues, albeit on a smaller scale. Are we winning in Afghanistan? We’re supposed to start pulling troops out and handing more control to the Afghan authorities, but if the Taliban retake control after a few years, do we erase the W and chalk up an L? You also have to ask yourself what benchmark you would use to measure success and eventually declare victory. In a situation where everyone knows that all drug trafficking can’t be eradicated and all violence can’t be definitively ended, what level of each is low or acceptable enough to say the Mexican government has won? Things would get even trickier if the U.S. government had a different definition of victory over the cartels than the Mexican government.
This is why I believe that the drug war has to be viewed as a conflict that needs to be managed. Since drug trafficking and associated violence cannot be eliminated, they need to be controlled so that the Mexican people can experience a degree of security that is sufficient to allow them to prosper. It’s no different than living with common crime here in the U.S. Criminal activity is present from big cities to small towns, and it’s something we all have to deal with at some point. But concerns over becoming victims to crime don’t keep us from taking our kids to school, or voting on Election Day, or going to work every morning, or going to a certain restaurant or nightclub on date night. Most of us don’t care for politicians very much and some of us don’t care for the police very much, but overall we have enough faith in both our governments and justice system that we can lead normal, peaceful lives.