Politics & Media
Jul 04, 2023, 06:28AM

Republicans Against Cartels

Should the military intervene in Mexican drug labs?

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Forget “Build the wall” and “Lock her up.” Some Republicans have a new idea: bomb Mexico, calling for using military force to respond to the drug epidemic. Given the American people’s anger about this issue, this will likely resonate with a percentage of voters.

Donald Trump privately considered bombing drug labs in Mexico during his presidency and now wants to kill drug traffickers; during his 2024 presidential bid, he’s talked about sending special forces and drawing up battle plans to deal with the problem. Longshot candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has discussed using the military to "annihilate" drug cartels. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis supports deploying the military against cartels and told reporters, "You can absolutely use deadly force." Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley wants special operations forces to eliminate the Mexican cartels, similar to how the country handled ISIS. Additionally, U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said Trump not bombing fentanyl labs in Mexico was a mistake and U.S. Sen Lindsey Graham wants to blow up the cartel using the military.

While some may dismiss this as a crazy and terrible idea, it’ll undoubtedly resonate with many Republicans and independent conservatives. The United States is amid a drug epidemic that kills more than 100,000 Americans annually. Most drug deaths involve opioids, and nearly all opioid deaths involve fentanyl. There has been a nearly 800 percent increase in preventable drug overdose deaths in the United States since 1999, according to the National Safety Council.

The epidemic is taking the lives of friends and families. Most people know someone who’s died because of the drug epidemic. I have multiple relatives who overdosed on drugs and died and living relatives who will likely suffer the same fate. Politicians are failing on the opioid epidemic. Drug deaths are increasing each year. At the state, local, and federal levels, fixing the problem is never a top priority, whether it’s Boston letting Methadone Mile fester or leadership at the Massachusetts State House omitting the opioid epidemic from its list of priorities and instead proposing solutions in search of problems on social issues so the supermajority party can pretend to be a victim in of America’s bluest states. The Biden administration's porous southern border doesn't help the issue.

Most fentanyl comes from Mexico. However, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is callous on this problem. He lied and blamed the American people for the issue when asked about it earlier this year. He falsely claimed that his country doesn’t produce fentanyl and blamed the United States for having social decay. As a social conservative, I sympathize with the social decay notion. Culture and economics factor into the country's drug problem, but so does supply—and fentanyl comes from Mexican drug cartels.

Mass drug dealers are killers. People who produce fentanyl, sell fentanyl, and lace other, less potent drugs with fentanyl, are killers. Fentanyl threatens Americans more than radical Islamic terrorism and the Taliban that the country spent 20 years fighting. To its credit, the Taliban banned poppy farming, although some worry this will fuel demand for fentanyl globally. While we may see less heroin moving forward, fentanyl is likely to fill that vacuum. Since there’s no clear solution to this drug problem, one must also understand why curtailing the supply by blowing up drug labs and cartel members is appealing. If drugs kill a loved one, why not kill the people who killed that person? I'm not a war hawk. I think the war on terror has been a disaster, the war in Ukraine needs to end, and a lot of American military intervention over the years has worsened bad situations. But if the liberal alternative is for government officials to watch people shoot themselves up with fentanyl, maybe blowing up labs and cartels isn't that crazy.

When Trump wanted to ban Muslims from America—a radical idea I never supported—he rose in the polls. People can dismiss so-called extreme ideas as crazy. Yet, given the poor polling of so-called mainstream Republican ideas like entitlement reform and opposing minimum wage increases, it's hard to dismiss an idea that treats mass murderers like mass murderers as an unworkable idea.

Sending the military to the border to stop illegal drugs from entering the country is popular; 55 percent of Americans back it, while 29 percent oppose it, according to an NBC poll. At a minimum, Republicans ought to run on using military force to stop illegal drugs from entering the country.


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