Swine Flu a Bioterror Attack?

7mask-clr-13px10p1Disclaimer: I am not, repeat not,  stating that the swine flu epidemic is terrorism. When I see stuff like that on a site named Conspiracy Planet, I know it’s time to take a deep breath.

But if –  hypothetically speaking – swine flu was a bioterror attack, it would be an interesting one. For starters, it broke out in Mexico. Why try to use biological weapons in a security state like the U.S., when you can plant them in Mexico, an almost-failed nation too enmeshed in a bloody drug war to worry about public health? Terrorists could be certain that a Mexican epidemic would cross the border into the U.S., while the global Mexican diaspora would ensure that contagion speads to Canada and Europe, and on to the rest of the world.

Then there’s the economic hit. Stocks fell on news of a swine flu epidemic, as investors recoiled at the thought of what quarantines might do to global trade. With the world economy shaky and governments just looking for an excuse to impose protectionism, even a rumor of a pandemic is devastating.

Swine flu will be meat for conspiracy theorists for years to come. Count on this being a new issue for the anti-immigration lobby. But you don’t have to be paranoid to suspect that a jihadi in Pakistan or a white supremacist in Idaho is watching and learning.

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7 Responses to Swine Flu a Bioterror Attack?

  1. jamesohearn says:

    Why try to use biological weapons in a security state like the U.S., when you can plant them in Mexico, an almost-failed nation too enmeshed in a bloody drug war to worry about public health?

    Which is why the theory makes no sense. Mexico is nowhere near a being a failed state. In Pakistan, you could say this. Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Somalia also.

    • Michael Peck says:

      Pakistan and Somalia aren’t on the U.S. border. Pakistanis and Somalis don’t sneak across the Rio Grande. Mexico may not be a failed yet, but a drug war will make public health the least of their worries. Like I said, it’s a conspiracy theory. But the notion of using a weak U.S. neighbor as a launch pad for a WMD attack isn’t stupid.

  2. Rick Ungar says:

    Michael-
    Really?

    For starters, Mexico is not “almost a failed nation. As a journalist, I would think you would be able to avoid the hype and stick closer to the reality. I don’t know when you last spent time in Mexico, but it is certainly not as you describe.

    Secondly, you should try to gain a better understanding of the drug war. It clearly has not taken so much of the government’s efforts that nothing else is addressed in the country.

    I live in Mexico a large part of the year and it simply is not as you are portraying. You should head down and spend a little time.

    As for the swine flu as a terrorist attack, if this is the best they’ve got- excellent. Somehow, I suspect that when they unleash a bio-attack, it won’t be anything so treatable as swine flu.

    • Michael Peck says:

      Rick, I don’t know if rich American snowbirds who live in nice Mexican enclaves are in the best position to observe the violence. But if you’re living in areas infested by drug gangs and kidnappers, I hope you’ll post some descriptions here. I would love to read your account of the situation.

      By the way, you may not think the situation is serious, but the CIA and Pentagon do. Maybe they know something we don’t?

      • Rick Ungar says:

        Michael, I don’t deny that the situation is serious – what I am saying is that we have a very skewed point of view of what the drug war in Mexico is all about and where it is playing out.

        To begin with , the battle is being fought along the “Cocaine Trail”. The overwhelming concentration of the fight is in the northern border towns which drugs traditionally enter into the USA. This is where 99% of the deaths have occurred- with one exception. The drug cartels are battling to gain political control of the small towns along the northern portion of the trail for the purpose of disrupting traffic from competing cartels. This is where the Mexican gov’t comes into play. Frankly, if the cartels were simply killing off one another, the Mexican gov’t would most likely never have gotten involved.However, when the cartels move to take over political units (ie, the small towns and roadways leading in and out), and do so by killing police offers and town officials, then it very much becomes the government’s business. This is not to say that no innocents have been caught in the cross-fire. They have. But to put it into perspective, the number of innocents murdered in the USA every year overwhelmingly exceeds the innocents that have lost their life in the Mexican drug war.

        As for the Pentagon and CIA reports, I have read them. The warnings, as actually written – not as hyped in the press- do not say that Mexico is all that endangered of becoming a failed state. They do suggest the same warnings that they suggest for any nation that is undergoing any particular turmoil. I think we could agree that we have far more reason to be concerned about a variety of other nations than we need by about Mexico.

        As for being a (rich snowbird) living in a rich community — I’m not a snowbird. I lived full time in Mexico for seven years (less in the pat one year) and I am a legal landed immigrant in the country. You are correct that the two largest American enclaves are not in the line of fire from the drug cartels but it has nothing to do with money – it is because neither is located along the contentious cocaine trail. What’s more, the third largest American enclave- Guadalajara – which is Mexico’s second largest city, is home to a very significant number of drug lords and yet the drug war has not impacted on Guadalajara. Why? Because it simply is nowhere near the distribution routes that are the subject matter of the battle.

        Thus, I have been in no position to directly see the drug violence, just as the overwhelming number of Mexican – rich, poor, whatever- have not been in a position to get up close to the drug violence unless they live in the northern border towns or directly on the trail.

        As for kidnapping, with some exceptions, this is a problem fairly unique to Mexico City and Monterrey where most of the truly wealthy Mexicans reside. There have been some instances of “express” kidnapping in Guadalajara (they take you and hold you long enough to use your bank card a few times to pull out a couple a thousand pesos). The other problem is being experienced in the San Diego area where people who live in California but drive to work across the border are being followed and then taken. There have also been a few instances of trouble along the western highway running from the USA through the entry points in Southern California and Arizona. These are rare, but they happen.
        While kidnapping has long been a problem in these parts of Mexico, nobody has every suggested they threaten to cause Mexico to become a failed state.

  3. Michael Peck says:

    I agree that it’s easy to exaggerate Mexico’s problems. But I also wonder if a lot of Americans think, “hey, I spent a week in Acapulco. Those poor Mexicans can’t give us any problems…” It’s been 200 years since the invasion of Canada and 100 years since since Pancho Villa, so unlike Europeans, we’ve become used to not worrying about whether our neighbors are going to explode.

    I agree with you that Mexico is not a failed state at this point. But I think it is showing symptoms of that disease. If Mexico was suffering just plain old civil turmoil, like students rioting or a wave of street crime, that wouldn’t be so worrisome.

    But the reports I’ve seen indicate that the Mexican government cannot trust its own security forces. Federal and state police are compromised, and the army is being dragged into the drug war, so it might also be compromised (if it isn’t already), or it could potentially end up interfering in politics (not good, either). If we were told this was happening to some African nation, our first thought would be that this is a country on the road to dysfunction.

    Mexico isn’t there yet, but if the security forces are corrupt or ineffective, than I would be worried about things like criminal warlords and separatists. I know the Zapatistas were a farce, but power abhors a vacuum, and it’s going to be interesting to see what’s bubbling under Mexican society. I can’t see a strong Mexican state coexisting with cartels that are getting bolder and more violent. What’s worse, I don’t see what’s going to weaken the cartels. Cleaning up the security forces would take years at best. If Colombia is a guide, things are going to get worse before they get better.

    I appreciate your insights in Mexico, Rick. I’d love to hear more of them.

    • Rick Ungar says:

      Mexico has never been able to trust their security forces. It just never really mattered because they were never fighting anyone. They have always been corrupt as are the police. However, their brand of corruption is really, in so many ways, a part of their culture. Had there been no drug war, nobody would have given a thought to these issues. I do not recall the Pentagon or State Department issuing warnings about Mexico before the drug war (except for kidnapping.)
      The drug war will, eventually end. It will be a negotiated settlement whereby the government will return to turning their head and the cartels will agree to stop killing one another.
      The real problem challenging Mexico’s stability – its the crumbling oil infrastructure. It also does not help that the price is low. Eventually, the government will have to open up the oil industry to outside investment in order to repair and improve the oil production. Right now, its a monopoly and constitutionally illegal for foreigners to be involved with the oil. And, of course, there is corruption there. The gas I pump into my car in Mexico has been pumped by Pemex as crude in Mexico… shipped to refineries in the USA.. and then shipped back to Pemex in Mexico for distribution to Pemex gas stations where we all get our gas. Why no refineries in Mexico??? Because somebody is making some serious commissions on shipping it out to the USA and then back into Mexico. But it’s all part of life in Mexico.
      Mexicans no longer have much of a will for revolution. They may elect a socialist government next time around (some would say they did in this last election but it was stolen – I don’t think so.) But it’s no longer in their nature.

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