George W. Bush unwittingly highlighted one of the greatest failures of his presidency last week in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, and then did it again Tuesday when he met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
The United States, Bush rightly told the Morning News, shares responsibility with Mexico for the incredible level of violence in that country.
"There's another key reason to be very close to Mexico, and that is to jointly fight the narco-traffickers," said Bush. "And I say jointly fight them because we have as much responsibility as Mexico does. If there wasn't as much drug use in America, there would be less need for narco-traffickers to use Mexico as a transit point."
Bush might as well have gone on to say: If the president of the United States had done his job and controlled the border from the U.S. side, smugglers would not be fighting today to control it from the Mexican side. Nor would they be running drugs into American cities and thus killing American kids and destroying American communities.
What Bush did go on to tell the paper was this: "The violence is awful. President Calderon knows it's awful. He knows he has got a war on his hands against people who use violence to achieve their objectives."
This is the war Bush leaves office losing. Not the two on the other side of the world -- the one right here.
Just how bad is security on the U.S.-Mexico border as Bush's eight years as commander in chief draw to a close? Documents recently published by Bush's State and Justice departments provide some perspective.
Last year, Penny Starr of CNSNews.com reported that State had quietly issued a "Travel Alert" for Americans contemplating a visit to Mexico. The alert was updated in October, and according the State Department Website, the information in it was current as of Tuesday.
"Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have taken on the characteristics of small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and, on occasion, grenades," says the alert. "Firefights have taken place in many towns and cities across Mexico, but particularly in northern Mexico, including Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez."
State warns that Americans traveling near the U.S. border in Mexico might have difficulty distinguishing between the criminals, the police and the military.