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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

A New American War? Republicans Advocate for Military Attacks in Mexico Against Cartels

El Paso, TX - In an unconventional strategy to combat the fentanyl crisis, prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, are rallying behind the idea of using military force against Mexican drug cartels. Trump has discussed employing special forces and cyber warfare to target cartel leaders if reelected during recent rallys, while Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill authorizing military force against cartels. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) expressed openness to sending U.S. troops into Mexico without permission from the Mexican government.

Critics argue that this approach could exacerbate the situation, with many pointing to the potential increase in asylum claims due to military action. Democrats, including President Joe Biden, oppose the proposals, favoring a more collaborative approach with Mexico to tackle the issue.

According to the US Government, the fentanyl crisis has claimed nearly 71,000 American lives in 2021, surpassing the total U.S. military casualties from the Vietnam War. The Drug Enforcement Agency has identified Mexican cartels as the primary distributors of the deadly drug, with most of the fentanyl being mass-produced in secret factories using chemicals sourced from China.

While the idea of using military force against Mexican cartels gains traction within the Republican Party, it remains to be seen whether this controversial approach will be adopted as part of the GOP's larger foreign policy.

It is worth noting that initiating military action against Mexican cartels would represent a significant departure from the historical foreign policy between the United States and Mexico. Although the two countries have had armed conflicts in the past, most notably during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), relations have evolved significantly since then. Both nations have made considerable efforts to build a cooperative relationship, focusing on trade, diplomacy, and mutual support in addressing security and social issues.

The last century has seen both countries working together through various agreements and treaties, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in 2020. Additionally, both countries have cooperated in fighting drug trafficking and organized crime through initiatives like the Mérida Initiative, which provides resources and support to Mexican law enforcement agencies.

Launching a military offensive against Mexican cartels without the consent of the Mexican government would likely strain this collaborative relationship and could lead to unforeseen consequences, both regionally and globally. The idea of using military force against Mexican drug cartels not only raises legal and ethical questions but also highlights the complexities of addressing the fentanyl crisis and the broader issue of drug trafficking.

As the debate on this controversial approach continues, it is crucial for policymakers to weigh the potential benefits against the long-term consequences of such a drastic shift in foreign policy. A comprehensive and collaborative approach, taking into account the root causes of the drug crisis and building on the existing cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, may be a more effective and sustainable solution.

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