WASHINGTON – There is a growing debate among lawmakers about how to address the problem of Mexican drug cartels. Some GOP politicians have suggested using military force to bomb drug labs and destroy the cartels.
Donald Trump was among the first to suggest the idea, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s new book, Confidence Man. Haberman claims the former president repeatedly asked his Defense Secretary if the U.S. could bomb drug labs in Mexico to help stop the flow of drugs across the border.
This idea has gained support from lawmakers such as Sen. Lindsey Graham and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who have both expressed a desire to “blow up” the cartels. Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Mike Waltz have also introduced a bill seeking authorization for the use of military force to target the cartels.
“The cartels are at war with us – poisoning more than 80,000 Americans with fentanyl every year, creating a crisis at our border, and turning Mexico into a failed narco-state,” Rep. Crenshaw said in the news release. “It’s time we directly target them. My legislation will put us at war with the cartels by authorizing the use of military force against the cartels. We cannot allow heavily armed and deadly cartels to destabilize Mexico and import people and drugs into the United States. We must start treating them like ISIS – because that is who they are.”
In addition to Crenshaw and Waltz’s bill, lawmakers in both chambers have filed legislation to label several cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
“The single largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on United States soil was the September 11 terrorist attacks, which killed 2,977 people, and fentanyl overdoses cause the equivalent of a new September 11 nearly every 2 weeks. In fiscal year 2022, the United States suffered more fentanyl-related deaths than gun and auto-related deaths combined,” the legislation reads.
However, not all Republican leaders support this approach. John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser and potential presidential candidate, has expressed concerns about bombing the cartels and instead recommends working with Mexican law enforcement and government to address the issue. President Joe Biden has also rejected the use of military force and the terrorist label for cartels, arguing that existing executive orders have already expanded law-enforcement authorities to target the organizations.