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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/24/09

Religious Morality Is Problematic-A Failure in American Government

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"To say that Mexico is a failed state is absolutely false," said Mexico’s current president, Felipe Calderon. "I have not lost any part—any single part—of Mexican territory."

Maybe Calderon should reconsider his claim. What about Ciudad Juarez? Calling in 5,000 troops sounds like an offensive mobilization of the Army to regain the territory lost by the local police.

“President Felipe Calderon said Thursday he wants to defeat the world's most powerful drug gangs before his term ends in 2012, disputing U.S. fears that Mexico is losing control of its territory, though his government plans to send thousands of soldiers and police officers to one city to try to control drug violence there.”

How did Mexico come to the edge of being a failed State? The history of the country shows us how its political officials, from the lowest to the highest ranks have used any means possible —mostly illegal—to gain personal power and wealth. We learn from historians such as Enrique Krauze, in his book, Mexico: Biography of Power, how Mexico attempted to establish several constitutions over the last century while groping for its core guiding values. At the same time, the Catholic Church, in its struggle to retain control, varied its policies and values to assert its own slithering agenda.

Loss of Rational Core Values
As in other theocratic countries, in Mexico leaders constantly govern in arbitrary ways—void of core, rational values—in order to benefit themselves and the powerful wealthy who are most likely to support these leaders in return. Rolling Stone magazine recently revealed how Mexican officials, from the highest to the lowest ranks, benefit from revenue sharing in the Columbian cocaine industry.

As in Columbia, now too in Mexico, government officials at all levels collaborate with drug lords like El Chapo, a man made extremely wealthy from cocaine and marijuana, who is most likely to support these leaders in return for their favors, such as letting him out of a high security federal prison before his extradition to the U.S.

Officials in the Bush-Cheney administration are not unfamiliar with these practices. Bush oil industry regulators spent American tax money on Columbian blow, and we have learned how their stimulating high aided in their sex parties with oil industry lobbyists.

Despite Bush’s claims of high moral standards as a born-again Christian, he and Cheney whittled away at what was once America’s moral high ground, once one of the touchstones of American world leadership. The Bush administration has inculcated the type of hypocritical immorality typical of popular religions that enforce ethical rules arbitrarily, depending on the situation and political needs.

Clothed in the image of Christian righteousness, the Bush-Cheney administration authorized torture as a means to obtain testimony—ultimately revealed to be false—to support the lies used to justify bombing Iraq and killing thousands of innocent civilians. Many reports have shown that the previous administration intentionally invaded Iraq, not for any alleged links to al Qaeda but for access to its oil reserves. Succeeding in this well-documented, premeditated plan would have benefited large oil companies, the wealthy who are most likely to support these leaders in return for the favor. 

Political Use of Religion
Politicians often use popular religion to justify the abuse of power and force, degrading a nation into third-world status like Mexico. Unlike any other presidential administration in the U.S., the eight years of Bush-Cheney solidified a culture of corrupt favoritism for the wealthy, leaving the middle class to pay for our current financial and moral disaster. The financial catastrophe may be the result of decades of disastrous deregulation policies but, like the 9/11 attack, Bush-Cheney ignored all the warnings. So many disasters befell W’s administration as if he were the victim, a bystander struck by a MAC truck, not a leader in charge of the traffic, not really the decider. Like the Bush-Cheney administration over the past eight years with its favoritism to big oil and its no-bid contracts with Halliburton, Mexican presidents have used similar means for centuries to use the resources of the many, the middle class, to benefit the few, the extremely wealthy and powerful.

This dismantling of the middle class in the U.S. has already begun to eat away at American core values. The more middle class Americans have to struggle to keep a roof over our children’s heads, the more we have to compromise our ethical standards. We are more willing to tolerate a preemptive, unjustified war if our leaders tell us it might make us safer and lower the prices at the pump. We are willing to tolerate the torture of prisoners if it means maintaining our standard of living.

The American voting public became aware of this by the end of the last Republican administration. They voted for change.  As President Obama says in his statement about the release of Bush administration torture memos, “A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.”

America’s ideals were founded by the rational, clear thinking of the Enlightenment, when obscure religious thought was ignored for the sake of moral values based on logical reasoning, as in classical Greece.

Mexico’s leaders, in contrast, have been inspired by the inquisitions and superstitions of the Baroque era. The leading architects of American government were not religious men at all. They were deists, inspired by the European Enlightenment. America’s ideals were founded not in arbitrary, popular religious dictates that deceptive politicians use to abuse power.

Yet this is exactly how the Mexican government has favored the wealthy in Mexico (and in the U.S.), at the expense of Mexico’s middle class. The drug industry in Mexico has become the most attractive means to stay in the middle class because the corrupt economic and political system has not enabled the middle-class families in Mexico to build a life by more legitimate and respectable means. They have compromised their ethics in order to keep a roof over the heads of their children. Many Mexican citizens have lost all trust in their government. The Zetas, the Special Forces soldiers of the drug lords, routinely recruit Mexican soldiers into their ranks. Rolling Stone reporter Guy Lawson quotes the rationale of one such recruit.  

"Chapo came to my village in a helicopter and gave out money to plant marijuana," Julio says. "He did this for the whole town. If I wanted to start a business of some kind in the city, he would provide me the money to start. He uses his money for his people, to help us progress."

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Mark Biskeborn is a novelist: Mojave Winds, A Sufi's Ghost, Mexican Trade. Short Stories: California & Beyond. Poetry & Essays. For more details: See Mark's stories on or wherever books are (more...)
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