A while back, over at the New English Review, Roger L. Simon (a writer I admire and often, but not always, agree with) wrote about the possibility of turning the U.S. military loose on Mexican drug cartels. Unsurprisingly, I have some thoughts. Excerpts, with those thoughts, follow.
If Putin attacks Poland or other NATO members, I reserve the right to change my view, but for now, call me a Ukraine war skeptic. That we are making the world safe for democracy is risible. More likely, it’s a kleptocracy.
Most importantly, no American lives have been threatened by this border conflagration that I can see.
But if you’re worried about American lives, we have a genuine ruthless enemy on our own soil that is murdering our people on a literally unprecedented scale —the Mexican drug cartels.
They do this, as has been widely known for some time, in cahoots with the communist Chinese who send fentanyl—which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin— in raw form to the cartels, which repackage it in colored pills attractive to children or used to lace other, supposedly less dangerous, drugs.
I’m with the author so far. The border is a festering sore, Mexico is a failed narco-state, and if we leave things as they are it’s just going to get worse. But then:
At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, former President Donald Trump reiterated that he will shut down the border, presumably finishing the wall, and increase the number of border personnel in various divisions.
New candidate Vivek Ramaswamy went him one better, advocating, at his CPAC speech and elsewhere, that the U.S. military should be called upon to annihilate the cartels.
Ramaswamy is implying that the cartels are basically at war with us, certainly arguable, and should be treated as a military adversary, on our soil and Mexico’s.
I have some questions. It’s one thing for a civilian politician to advocate for sending American troops into a situation where they will be killing people and breaking things – that is their job, after all – but this instance we are asking them to operate in a foreign country that, almost certainly doesn’t want them there. There’s a word for that, and the word is “invasion.”
Is Mr. Ramaswamy advocating for an invasion of Mexico? If so, what’s the exit strategy? What are the rules of engagement? How to we identify the bad guys who, one must assume, we are trying not to arrest but to terminate with extreme prejudice? What will the force structure look like? Will we send armor and close air support into Mexico? Will we remove the current (failed) government of Mexico and set up something in its place? Mexico, I would point out, is not Japan; the occupation and reorganization of Japan after World War II largely succeeded because of the culture of respect for and obedience to authority, and because the Emperor supported the reorganization. Mexico? Not so much. Or will we just annex Mexico, give it territorial status, appoint a (military?) governor, and move on from there?
It’s not a matter of military prowess. The cartels have some modern tech, but what can they do if we identify a compound and send over a couple of B-52s to rain their own particular brand of hell on them? And I’d love to see a bunch of cartel gun-hands stand up against the 82nd Airborne. Even as degraded as our military is today, they can handle a bunch of armed thugs – in a straight-up fight, but I doubt the cartels would play it that way.
I’m not terribly surprised to see Lindsey Graham backing the idea – for now.
The reason I’m not convinced by this plan is simple. Let’s assume Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination next year, and then the Presidency, and is lucky enough to gain a friendly Congress that will authorize all this. So we invade Mexico – because that’s what we’re talking about – and, halfway through our drive to the Guatemalan border, halfway through the occupation of Mexico City and the establishment of what will honestly be a puppet government, the balance of power flips and a new Democrat Congress, egged on by President Gavin Newsom, defunds the operation. Then the President orders the campaign to stop, withdraws the troops, recalls the air support and abandons the mission.
If anyone thinks that can’t happen, I’d ask you to look at what happened in Afghanistan, not all that long ago. Think hard on what the results of our catastrophic abandonment of Afghanistan were – and picture that on our southern border.
If we were to do anything like this, we’d have to be in it to win it, and that means a long, brutal haul with tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of people dead. And I have precisely zero faith in the Imperial government to stick it out.