Oliver North

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Official Washington has the attention span of a fruit fly. A "crisis d'jour" momentarily captures the attention of the so-called mainstream media, politicians and government bureaucrats. For a few days -- occasionally for a few weeks -- the potentates on the Potomac will focus on "the problem," hold hearings, introduce some legislation, devise a way to spend more of our tax dollars, initiate an "investigation" -- and move on when they are "shocked," "stunned," and/or "surprised" by the next catastrophe or scandal. Like a pan of soup on a hot stove, no one seems witting, willing or able to turn down the heat until the pot boils over.

 Bush administration officials and lawmakers, preoccupied with leak and lobbying investigations, the Alito confirmation hearings, a mining disaster and the war in Iraq seem oblivious to what is happening south of the Rio Grande. Absent the urgent attention of some astute officials in our nation's capital, the Latin-American pressure cooker won't just boil over -- it will explode.

 Most Americans see the burgeoning crisis to our south as simply a problem of illegal immigration. Reflecting that sentiment, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to strengthen border enforcement before going home for Christmas. This week, most Latin American diplomats lined up to condemn the proposal. Mexico's Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez called it "stupid and underhanded." Few in Washington paid any attention.

 In fact, the flow of illegals across our southern border will only get worse if Washington continues to ignore the tell-tale warnings coming from the region. The most recent "leading indicators" of political turmoil:

 The Dec. 18 election of socialist-cocoa grower Evo Morales as president of Bolivia was hailed in the European and Latin press as a great victory for "democracy." In fact, Morales' campaign for office closely paralleled the America-bashing tactics used so successfully by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.