Good News: Military Solutions to Crime and Violence are Failing

From Sunday Washington Post Front Page:

Violence in Juarez Prompts Officials to Admit Miltary Failure

Why is this good news?  It’s of course actually a tragedy:  A tragedy that is playing out all over the world as violent criminals (whether motivated by money, glory, or rage) are becoming ever richer and more dangerously armed, and as their abilities steadily increase to recruit tens of thousands of poor and alienated youth to fight for them.

The only good news is that stories like this indicate ever more clearly that a primarily military/police strategy does not work, and in fact does little to reduce the influence and growth of violent criminals and extremists.   It is good news that political, civic, and business leaders are realizing that the only real solution has to include dramatically reducing the disenfranchisement of the poor, and especially of youth who are now being sacrificed as ground troops on both sides of the “fight.”

This has – or should have – huge implications for the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan.

Quote from article:

“The United States backed that strategy [Calderon’s military-led strategy] under the 2007 Merida Initiative, signed by President George W. Bush. The bulk of the $1.4 billion aid package funds Black Hawk and Bell 412 helicopters, CASA CN-235 surveillance planes, police training and inspection equipment.

“But with the three-year initiative due to expire next year, U.S. officials have indicated that they plan to move from military assistance to a “softer” approach focusing on issues such as institution building, judicial reform and support programs aimed at impoverished youths like those who are recruited by the thousands into criminal gangs. Two-thirds of those killed violently in Juarez are between 14 and 24 years old.

“”It is more sustainable. A helicopter at best is going to have a 25-year life, but a human being in Mexico has a 75-year life expectancy,’ said John Feeley, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. ‘If you can get to the children, you are not just giving assistance, you are contributing in the development of a person, of the society.'”

P.S. – In the same edition of the Post, there was another front page story about the dramatic growth of gangs in and around Washington, DC, and the difficulties of funding youth-targeted programs to help deal with this problem.

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