WASHINGTON -- On Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008, Rahm Emanuel, now the White House chief of staff, famously described the future Obama administration's philosophy for governing: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before." "O-Team" sycophants in the so-called mainstream media chuckled. Conservatives were alarmed. We now know we had reason to be.
At the time Emanuel made his comment -- five days after the election -- we thought he was referring to the ongoing economic crisis to justify life-altering legislation on new government spending, social entitlements, higher taxes and massive debt. A quick glance at the Obama budget proves we were right. However, it turns out we grossly underestimated the willingness of the O-Team to apply its carpe crisis maxim to every situation -- foreign or domestic.
Anyone who has followed the current travail of the Mexican government in dealing with hyper-violent drug cartels south of the Rio Grande agrees that it is a serious calamity. In 2008, more than 5,800 people were killed in Mexican drug-related violence, double the number in 2007. At least 1,100 have died thus far in 2009.
The $40 billion that drug lords reap annually from U.S., Canadian and European "customers" has fueled massive corruption in Mexico, allowing cartels virtually unlimited power. Ruthless killings of civil, police and military officials who resist have become endemic. When the chief of police in Ciudad Juarez refused a cartel's order to resign, he was told that they would kill one of his police officers every 48 hours. Five of his officers were murdered in 10 days. The chief quit and went into hiding.
Not all of the problem is south of the border. Well-funded Mexican-affiliated drug gangs operate in at least 230 U.S. cities and towns -- keeping their American "clients" supplied -- and are fighting for "turf." Last year in Phoenix, there were more than 370 drug-related kidnappings. Cartel-related crimes have been reported from Albuquerque to Anchorage and Seattle to Savannah.
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.
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