Republicans Rally Behind the Stupidest Possible War

The drug war is already an endless failure, and the introduction of U.S. forces into Mexico would just make it more destructive

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The “peace president” is at it again:

Now a candidate, Trump is reviving his hawkish instincts toward the drug lords. He has already vowed to deploy US special forces to take on drug cartels, “just as we took down ISIS and the ISIS caliphate.”

In one policy video released by his campaign, Trump said that if reelected, he would “order the Department of Defense to make appropriate use of special forces, cyber warfare, and other overt and covert actions to inflict maximum damage on cartel leadership, infrastructure and operations.”

As I have said before, attacking the cartels would achieve nothing. Anyone that calls for military action as a “solution” in this case automatically discredits himself. It is telling that Trump and many other Republican hawks have latched on to one of the stupidest policy ideas available. Some of the cheerleaders for a cartel war are the usual reflexive hawks , and some cosplay as antiwar politicians, but they are united behind the absurd belief that the drug war needs even more militarism. Even if you knew nothing else about their foreign policy views, this would be enough to confirm that their judgment is abysmal.

Trump likens a cartel war to fighting terrorists, but this ignores how terrorist groups have often flourished and spread during the “war on terror.” Look at the Sahel to seehow militarized “solutions” have contributed to making the region much less stable and much more violent. Countries that used to have Military action can weaken and even destroy a certain group, but it does nothing to address the conditions that cause people to join radical armed groups. It would be even less effective in stopping the supply of illegal narcotics, since it can’t do anything about the demand that drives the drug trade. The drug war is already an endless failure, and the introduction of US forces into Mexico would just make it more destructive.

When otherwise hawkish politicians feign skepticism about US involvement in a war somewhere, it seems as if they have to compensate for this by jumping on the bandwagon for even more reckless and indefensible interventionism. We saw a lot of this in the ‘90s when Republicans that were generally a lot more hawkish than Clinton used the Balkan interventions as occasions to complain that he was ignoring the “real” threats, by which they usually meant Iraq or Iran. We see some of it again today when quasi-skeptics of US policy in Ukraine are quick to remind us that they want the US to gear up for a much bigger direct conflict with China. They are deeply concerned about being in the frying pan because it will prevent the US from jumping straight into the fire.

Read the rest of the article at Eunomia

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.

32 thoughts on “Republicans Rally Behind the Stupidest Possible War”

  1. Too bad we can’t just buy some Mexican politicians, the police and a few Generals (like the cartels have) and just pay them to do their jobs?
    The Mexican President might be a little pricy but it’s obvious he does have a price.

  2. Just like “over there”, cartels would become “terrorists” here. I would not doubt at all that the cartels would conduct bad things here. So it goes.

  3. The solution to the drug “problem” is to legalize drugs. Duh!!! How people failed to learn from prohibition is beyond me.

    1. It’s not illegal until you are caught.
      That has ….almost….worked for me.

  4. The best way to deal with the drug problem is to find out why so many Americans are turning to drugs in spite of forty years of drug education in our schools. I suggest we look at a whole host of reasons that are causing our people to become drug addicts. Once the demand for drugs goes away, problem solved without going to war.

    1. I got my first drug education in school about 40 years ago.

      It made me want to try all the different stuff the state trooper et al. told scary stories about.

    2. As I said in my comment above, the desire to get high is natural, and even some nonhumans do it, like birds eating fermented berries to get drunk (and I’ve never seen a horse who didn’t like beer). The “problem” with drugs is that they’re illegal. There may also be a problem with a lot of people doing harmful drugs like speed or becoming addicted, but that’s minor compared to the societal and racist harms that are caused by prohibition.

      The “drug education” that you mention is nothing but ridiculous propaganda. We used to laugh at that stuff when I was in high school. Reefer Madness was so hilarious that a bunch of us used to get stoned on pot and go watch it. People who actually do the drugs know that the hysteria that the anti-drug propaganda purports is far from reality. I’m not advocating that anyone do drugs nor saying that some of them don’t have bad effects, but this propaganda always greatly exaggerates the harms to the point of not being credible, and it also falsely states that “drugs” like marijuana (actually an herb, not a drug) are harmful (the smoking of it may be harmful, but if you eat it there’s no harm, so the harm is from the smoke, not the pot).

      As to why so many people are becoming addicted to opioids, I highly recommend the Netflix documentary from about 5 years ago on this. Explains the problem perfectly, and by your comments it’s not what you think.

      1. “the smoking of it may be harmful, but if you eat it there’s no harm, so the harm is from the smoke, not the pot”

        I will be celebrating 50 years of smoking the good herb come this October. I once had a smoker’s hack. After 20 years of smoking cigarettes, I quit them in ’95 and lo and behold my smokers hack went with them. Still don’t have one. Not saying inhaling smoke into your lungs is healthy, but I have yet to feel any negative effects from long term usage.

        1. They’ve never proven any harm caused by smoking pot, but inhaling particulate matter is bad for you. Better to vape if you’re going to ingest it that way, and I don’t mean the portable things that have you smoking refined portions of the plant, I mean the non-portable box-like things into which you actually put the plant. Not saying this is harmless, but at least you don’t inhale particulate matter.

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