The Balloon Effect and Mexican Homeland Security: What it Means to be the Weakest Link in the Americas' Security Chain
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA DEFENSE ANALYSIS DEPT
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The sudden increase in crime and violence in some Mexican cities and regions has raised security concerns not only in Mexico, where President Felipe Calderon categorized these crimes as a threat to Mexican society, but also in the United States, where Department of Homeland Secretary head Janet Napolitano referred to stemming the violence as vital to core U.S. national interests. Mexico is concerned with the latent threat of violence spreading all over the nation, while the United States is trying to guard against spillover. Both governments are concerned by the increased violence and its impact on communities along the U.S.-Mexican border. Due to its geopolitically important location, Mexico has historically received fallout from undesired, second-degree effects of some U.S. strategies. These unintended consequences are called balloon effects because they can be compared to the dynamics inside a balloon when a force applied to one spot sends air pressure to a weaker place inside the balloon. Paradoxically, when the Mexican government developed its strategy to confront transnational organized crime in 2006, this path changed notably, sending the pressure of the balloon effect in two directions first, inside Mexico, where the strategy unbalanced the criminal structure, creating balloon effects inside Mexican territory and second, within the United States, when the U.S. effort to help Mexico in its anti-crime strategy only escalated the conflict. This thesis will conduct a longitudinal case study of three U.S. strategies to demonstrate the reality of the balloon effect, and to describe its behavior and implications for Mexican homeland security.
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law
- Civil Defense