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Mexico: A Mosaic Cartel War

By Paul Rexton Kan for Small Wars Journal. A situation of high-intensity crime does not mean that a war is not occurring in Mexico. But it is a war of a different kind. In fact, there are several conflicts occurring at once that blend into each other. There is the conflict of cartels among each other, the conflict within cartels, cartels against the Mexican state, cartels and gangs against the Mexican people and gangs versus gangs. When combined, they form a mosaic cartel war that creates an atmosphere “somewhere between Al Capone’s Chicago and an outright war”. It is not an irregular or regular war; neither is it a small war nor a general war, nor a limited war, nor a total war, nor any of the familiar appellations given to armed conflicts fought by conventional militaries. And, finally it is not “a war about nothing.” It is a multidimensional, multiparty and multi-location armed conflict fought among criminal groups over what are essentially criminal goals; the groups are resisted by the state while their goals are rejected by it, making the state a party to the conflict.
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