Ben Domenech, New York Post, November 28, 2019
The cartel killing of nine US citizens — three women and six children — in Mexico this month forced Americans to confront a discomfiting and undeniable fact: Our neighbor to the south increasingly resembles a failed state, where corruption and trafficking are a way of life — and the only law is the law of the cartel.
Now President Trump says he wants to take a significant step: designating the cartels as terrorist groups. Good.
The current Mexican government has proved to be deeply unserious about confronting the cartel threat. While assassinations are rampant, and the cartels have emerged as parallel governments in some areas, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s “hugs, not bullets” approach is laughable.
It says everything about Mexican political priorities that the Mexican Air Force is able to spirit away Bolivia’s recently ousted leftist president — but unable to render support to Mexico’s own ground forces in the skies over Culiacan, where the Sinaloa cartel recently defeated the Mexican military in a pitched eight-hour battle.
John Davidson, who has been reporting on the Mexican collapse for us at The Federalist, described the scene: “Armed with military-grade weapons and driving custom-built armored vehicles, cartel henchmen targeted security forces throughout Culiacan, launching more than one dozen separate attacks on Mexican security forces.”
As a candidate, Donald Trump was a frequent critic of America’s far-flung wars. As president, he has adopted an approach that often puts him at odds with the views of the foreign-policy establishment. Now the violent action of the cartels presents him with an opportunity to please the more hawkish wing of his party while grappling for the first time in a generation with the broken nature of the Mexican state.
The choice for the Mexican government now is stark. It can govern Mexico, the cartels can govern Mexico or the United States can step in, in its own unique way, and do what Mexican elites won’t do.