Attacking the Cartels Will Achieve Nothing

The worst thing that the U.S. could do is to further militarize an already failed drug war.

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Bill Barr wants to attack Mexico:

America can no longer tolerate narco-terrorist cartels. Operating from havens in Mexico, their production of deadly drugs on an industrial scale is flooding our country with this poison. The time is long past to deal with this outrage decisively. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) and Michael Waltz (R., Fla.) have proposed a joint resolution giving the president authority to use the US military against these cartels in Mexico. This is a necessary step and puts the focus where it must be.

The worst thing that the US could do is to further militarize an already failed drug war. Barr presents this as a way to combat the drug problem “decisively,” but it would decide nothing. At best, it would create a new theater of the drone war in which the military plays whack-a-mole using Hellfire missiles. The civilian population in the targeted areas would then live in fear of being caught in one of the blasts, and more than a few innocent people would end up as victims. Because military options would do nothing to address the causes behind the drug trade, they would succeed only in creating temporary disruptions in the operations of the cartels.

The last thing that the president needs is another authorization to wage open-ended war in another part of the world on some new pretext. We know that these authorizations are very difficult to rescind once they are approved. We also know that the executive will stretch these authorizations well past any reasonable interpretation to provide cover for operations that have nothing to do with the original purpose of the authorization. The US needs to be halting its endless wars and not looking for ways to start new ones.

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Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Attacking the Cartels Will Achieve Nothing”

  1. Maybe work on why there is such a demand instead of trying to take out the supply.

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