In This Review

Mexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State?
Mexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State?
By George W. Grayson
275 pp, Transaction, 2009

No, the United States' southern neighbor, with its many sophisticated institutions and complex social networks, is not the next Afghanistan. But as the veteran Mexico watcher Grayson documents in lurid and depressing detail, powerful drug traffickers have corrupted the country's political and law enforcement establishments at all levels. The cartels simply have too much money, and the U.S. government, despite four decades of waging its "war on drugs," has utterly failed to stem the cross-border drug flows and the distribution networks that continuously replenish criminal coffers. Grayson seems to approve of recent U.S. programs transferring equipment and technology to Mexican security forces, and he respects Mexican President Felipe Calderón's bold, forceful counterattacks against the criminal gangs. But Grayson's bottom line is pessimistic: "It is extremely difficult -- probably impossible -- to eradicate the cartels. They or their offshoots will fight to hold on to an enterprise that yields Croesus-like fortunes." More out of desperation than desire, Grayson proposes that the United States begin "thinking about the unthinkable: decriminalization."