The motivation behind “Fast and Furious” is not known. The more one learns of the program, the more incredible it becomes. The idea, transferring guns to Mexican drug cartels, is so stupid that it is hard to rationalize what might have prompted such a program.
Ultimately the facts will come out, although not necessarily in a timeframe that will enable accountability to those responsible. For now, the motives that drove this initiative are speculative. Two distinctly different motivations seem possible:
- An operation initiated by lower-level government officials that was unknown to superiors.
- A politically-motivated operation directed from the top and designed to effect other outcomes.
Overlaying any consideration behind government behavior is the omnipresent element of stupidity. As a working hypothesis that should never be excluded from consideration of government activity, although it will not be discussed here.
Nor should political advantage as a motive be ruled out. In a world of political gotcha each party has an incentive to make their opponent look bad. The Republicans surely have an incentive to pursue this matter, if only to make Democrats look bad. However, there does seem to be ample information (for example, 300 estimated dead Mexicans and two US agents) to demand that answers be provided.
- The training and orientation of lower-level agents argues against them as initiators. The operation goes against everything they were taught and against the normal bureaucratic mind which is to keep your head down, follow orders and never risk your career by showing initiative.
- Monetary needs were likely considerable and probably could not occur at a local level without higher-up approval. Guns are not cheap.
- None of the perpetrators have been terminated or prosecuted. The first rule of bureaucracy is to find a scapegoat. Surely a political and legal disaster of such proportions would not go un-prosecuted unless it would lead to higher-ups in the Justice Department or White House.
While hardly proof-positive of the involvement of higher-ups, the probabilities lean in this direction.
Why Higher-Level Direction Is Likely?
To assume that the operation was drawn up and directed by higher-ups implies that there was some policy purpose behind the motivation. The lack of accountability and the recent attempt to stonewall any investigation, including President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege, suggests the program was designed from above.
It is difficult to see how national security considerations could be advanced by this effort. Indeed, not informing the Mexican government of such an operation would likely damage rather than advance international relations and national security.
Absent a national security consideration, political and/or ideological motivations come into play. The most popular hypothesis pertains to the long liberal dream of gun control. Whether this guess is correct or not, it does seem to provide a plausible (and stupid) rationale for this botched program.
Ann Coulter, in her inimitable fashion, discusses this possibility and uses the following sequence as motivation:
(1) Liberals thought it would be a great argument for gun control if American guns were ending up in the hands of Mexican criminals;
(2) They wanted that to be true so badly, Democrats lied about it;
(3) After they were busted on their lie, the Obama administration began dumping thousands of guns in the hands of Mexican criminals.
Ms. Coulter’s analysis is purely speculative. Some day we will find out what truly motivated such a botched, ill-conceived program.