Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

GOP embraces a new foreign policy: Bomb Mexico to stop fentanyl – POLITICO

Posted by M. C. on April 11, 2023

Republicans suggest everything from terrorist labels to an invasion to decimate drug cartels in Mexico.

I suspect Mexican civilians, you know – women/children, will be the primary victims.

A growing number of prominent Republicans are rallying around the idea that to solve the fentanyl crisis, America must bomb it away.

In recent weeks, Donald Trump has discussed sending “special forces” and using “cyber warfare” to target cartel leaders if he’s reelected president and, per Rolling Stone, asked for “battle plans” to strike Mexico. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill seeking authorization for the use of military force to “put us at war with the cartels.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he is open to sending U.S. troops into Mexico to target drug lords even without that nation’s permission. And lawmakers in both chambers have filed legislation to label some cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move supported by GOP presidential aspirants.

“We need to start thinking about these groups more like ISIS than we do the mafia,” Waltz, a former Green Beret, said in a short interview.

Not all Republican leaders are behind this approach. John Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser who’s weighing his own presidential run, said unilateral military operations “are not going to solve the problem.” And House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul (R-Texas), for example, is “still evaluating” the AUMF proposal “but has concerns about the immigration implications and the bilateral relationship with Mexico,” per a Republican staff member on the panel.

But the eagerness of some Republicans to openly legislate or embrace the use of the military in Mexico suggests that the idea is taking firmer root inside the party. And it illustrates the ways in which frustration with immigration, drug overdose deaths and antipathy towards China are defining the GOP’s larger foreign policy.

Nearly 71,000 Americans died in 2021 from synthetic-opioid overdoses — namely fentanyl — far higher than the 58,220 U.S. military personnel killed during the Vietnam War. And the Drug Enforcement Agency assessed in December that “most” of the fentanyl distributed by two cartels “is being mass-produced at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals sourced largely from China.”

Democrats, meanwhile, are allergic to the Republican proposals. President Joe Biden doesn’t want to launch an invasion and has rejected the terrorist label for cartels. His team argues that two issued executive orders already expanded law-enforcement authorities to target transnational organizations.

“The administration is not considering military action in Mexico,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. “Designating these cartels as foreign terrorist organizations would not grant us any additional authorities that we don’t already have.” Instead, Watson said the administration hopes to work with Congress on modernizing the Customs and Border Protection’s technologies and making fentanyl a Schedule I drug, which would impose the strictest regulations on its production and distribution.

Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chair, told Defense One in an interview last month that invading Mexico was a bad idea. “I wouldn’t recommend anything be done without Mexico’s support,” he said, insisting that tackling the cartel-fueled drug trade is a law enforcement issue.

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