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Mexico Surpasses Afghanistan and Iraq As The World's Second-Deadliest Conflict Zone
After six years of civil war, Syria remains the bloodiest battlefield on the planet. But there’s one other conflict zone whose violence in recent years has come to eclipse both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the bloodshed is right on America’s doorstep.
Thanks to the rising tide of cartel violence, Mexico surpassed Iraq and Afghanistan to become the world’s second-deadliest war zone in 2016, according to the annual Armed Conflict Survey by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The reign of terror wrought upon innocent civilians by Mexico’s drug cartels accounted for 23,000 fatalities in 2016, according to IISS’s study of ongoing conflicts around the world. That’s compared with around 16,000 deaths in Iraq and 17,000 in Afghanistan. (All three pale in comparison to the sixth year of the Syrian civil war, which took more than 50,000 lives last year.)
The rise of cartel violence in Mexico isn’t surprising: Bloodied bodies turn up on the local news on a seemingly regular basis, usually as a warning to journalists and law enforcement to keep their distance.
But compared with the conflict zones in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, Mexico is a bit of an outlier in one key respect. Bloomberg reports:
“Mexico is a conflict marked by the absence of artillery, tanks or combat aviation,” IISS director general John Chipman said in remarks at the survey’s launch in London on Tuesday. Virtually all of those deaths were caused by small arms.
The largest number of fatalities occurred in Mexican states that have become “key battlegrounds for control between competing, increasingly fragmented cartels,” he said, with violence flaring as gangs try to clear areas of rivals so they can monopolize drug trafficking routes.
According to the Department of State, at least 163 Americans were killed in Mexico between December 2014 and December 2016 — that’s only including deaths that State officially classified as homicides.
Since December, the State Department has maintained a travel warning for travelers to Mexico, stating that “gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place on streets and in public places during broad daylight,” while “U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states.”
The irony, of course, is that the conflict raging just below America’s southern border often spills over onto American soil.
And that’s not just because of heroin, which killed more Americans than guns in 2015: According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment, Mexican cartels “work with smaller local criminal groups and gangs across the United States for retail drug distribution and transportation” in major cities like Chicago, Boston, and Washington.
Though the cartels’ U.S. associates generally “refrain from inter-cartel violence that accounts for the high fatality rate in 2016 to avoid police scrutiny,” it’s their ambitions and vendettas that are increasingly accounting for growing gang violence across the U.S., according to the DEA.
It’s no surprise that the cartels have turned our southern neighbor into a battlefield on par with Iraq and Afghanistan. But the problem Mexico poses for the U.S. is similar to that posed by our faraway battlefields: What can America do to stop the violence, much less prevent its spread domestically?
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.