Former President Donald Trump is asking his advisers for a plan to launch a military invasion of Mexico to attack drug cartels if re-elected in 2024, Rolling Stone reported on Wednesday.
"Trump lieutenants have briefed him on several options that include unilateral military strikes and troop deployments on a sovereign U.S. partner and neighbor, the sources say. One such proposal that Trump has been briefed on this year is an October white paper from the Center for Renewing America, an increasingly influential think tank staffed largely by Trumpist wonks, MAGA loyalists, and veterans of his administration," reported Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley. "The policy paper — titled 'It’s Time to Wage War on Transnational Drug Cartels' — outlines possible justifications and procedures for the next Republican commander-in-chief to 'formally' declare 'war against the cartels,' in response to 'the mounting bodies of dead Americans from fentanyl poisonings.'"
The magazine acknowledges that this would be an invasion of a sovereign country, writing that the U.S. should “conduct specific military operations to destroy the cartels and enlist the Mexican government in joint operations to target cartel-networked infrastructure, including affiliated factions and enablers with direct action.” However, it brushed off the legal concerns, saying that “It is vital that Mexico not be led to believe that they have veto power to prevent the US from taking the actions necessary to secure its borders and people.”
This idea is not new. In 2019, Trump considered designating the drug cartels as terrorist organizations, a move that could have opened the door to military action against them, but administration officials decided against it. More recently, some Republicans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have called for the cartels to be bombed.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made clear that he does not support American military operations inside his country's borders. And there are a number of ways such an operation can go wrong; this comes after the U.S. spent 20 years trying to stabilize Afghanistan and clear the Taliban out of the country, only for the government to collapse and the Taliban to re-emerge.
This comes as President Joe Biden has stepped up efforts against the cartels, which in addition to flooding the U.S. with dangerous drugs fueling a nationwide epidemic of overdose deaths, are committing widespread organized violence in Mexico on a level seen in some civil wars. The U.S. and Mexican governments are working toward a deal where the former cracks down on guns going south to arm the cartels, while the latter tries to stop fentanyl from going north.
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