GOP Stops Short Of Declaring War On Mexico, Whose President Blames US Fentanyl Crisis On 'Social Decay'

When Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called the 70,000+ annual fentanyl overdose deaths of Americans the result of the US’s inherent “social decay” having nothing to do with Mexican cartels trafficking it across the border by the gazillions, GOP lawmakers bellowed loud enough to be heard all the way to Mexico City.

They then proceeded to call on President Biden to take military action against the cartels.

“We’re going to unleash the fury and might of the United States against these cartels,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Republicans also called on the administration to designate the drug cartels as international terrorist organizations.

Graham was joined by other Republicans who piled on the fentanyl crisis and Mexico during the November midterms. 

López Obrador bellowed back. “We are not going to allow any foreign government to intervene and much less foreign armed forces to intervene in our territory,” he told the Mexican press, adding that he would ask Americans of Mexican and Hispanic origin not to vote for Republicans if their aggression continues. “Mexico is not a colony of the United States or one of its protectorates.”

True, Mexico is neither. The country is, however, one of the U.S.’s largest trading partners, with nearly $1.7 billion in products and services crossing the U.S.-Mexico border every day. As part of the U.S.’s nearly $5 trillion annual trade with other nations, Mexico was number one in 2021 in terms of trading value, followed by Canada and China, according to the US Commerce Dept. And going the other way, nearly 16% of total U.S. exports went to Mexico. 

That’s a lot of action along the world’s busiest border. Each year the 1,951-mile southern border allows in more than 300 million people, approximately 90 million cars and 4.3 million truck crossings. 

How then are US experts supposed to detect fentanyl shipments, which are small and easy to conceal? The Biden administration recently rolled out additional high-tech surveillance equipment specifically designed to detect fentanyl at border crossings. 

Nice gesture but finding fentanyl among that traffic is a daunting challenge that many say can’t be done.

“My belief is there’s absolutely no way to stop it,” said Rep. David Trone (MD-D), who co-chaired a bipartisan commission on fentanyl smuggling.

What’s To Be Done?

Even if the Mexican government wanted to take down the cartels, it’s doubtful that it has the firepower, much less the will, regardless of pressure from its northern neighbor. 

Omar García-Ponce, a political science professor at George Washington University, told Newsweek that U.S. intervention would be disastrous.

“There’s growing evidence indicating that pursuing such security strategies is more likely to fail, increasing both the duration and the intensity of criminal wars (in Mexico and elsewhere),” García-Ponce said. 

In a statement to NPR on Friday afternoon, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the Biden administration is not “considering military action in Mexico.” She added that the U.S. and Mexico will “continue to work this problem together.” 

Photo: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Casa de gobierno

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