Tensions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are rising.
Wednesday’s Republican debate touched on many issues facing Americans, including cross-border drug smuggling of narcotics such as fentanyl.
Republicans have increasingly explored the possibility of military intervention in Mexico, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis promising to send troops over the border on his first day as president.
However, such a move would undoubtedly prove unpopular in Mexico.
An Attack From the North
The last major U.S. intervention south of the border concluded in 1917 during the final stages of the Mexican Revolution.
The country’s political stability ever since has improved relations with the U.S., notably within the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992.
Aside from setbacks in U.S.-Mexico relations during the Trump administration, the two countries have enjoyed a positive working relationship with each nation being the other’s largest trade partner. Nevertheless, military cooperation on both sides remains lackluster, with U.S. politicians accusing Mexico of inaction in combatting drug trafficking.
Military intervention on foreign soil, however, could decimate more than a century’s effort of improved relations, according to John Negroponte, who served as ambassador to Mexico under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
“Mexico is our largest trading partner. We share a 2,200-mile border and we have inter-relationships that are extensive and across an entire spectrum of issues such as migration, trade, people-to-people relations and environmental concerns. I believe such action would be extremely ill-advised,” Negroponte told The Hill.
Anger On Both Sides
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has retaliated to his northern counterparts by insisting that his country is not the cause of America’s drug problems. “There is a lot of disintegration of families, there is a lot of individualism, there is a lack of love, of brotherhood, of hugs and embraces,” López Obrador said in May 2023. “That is why [U.S. officials] should be dedicating funds to address the causes.”
Like all politicians, López Obrador uses rhetoric to resonate with the electorate. His denial of Mexico’s role in fentanyl trafficking has “fanned the flames of anger,” according to a former Mexican ambassador.
Cooler heads within the Republican Party suggests intervention in Mexico is not a universal idea, yet. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson opposed military force, instead opting for economic pressure. Ex-vice president Mike Pence echoed this view, while Democrats oppose the use of force south of the border.
“It would be a disaster if there were any military action against Mexico — a foreign policy disaster for the United States,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. “Plus, it makes no sense to resolve the problem.”
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events, including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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