Advocates for using military force against Mexican cartels overlook the ineffectiveness of such actions in reducing drug flows, the potential damage to bilateral relations, and the need for a comprehensive strategy addressing the root causes of drug abuse.
There is a growing movement to authorize the use of military force against Mexican cartels, despite the failures in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the use of military force is unlikely to reduce the flow of drugs, including fentanyl, and could damage bilateral relations with Mexico. While military action can dismantle criminal organizations, it has not been effective in reducing drug overdoses. The idea of a unified cartel is flawed, as these networks involve a wide range of individuals and are multinational in nature. Unilateral military action could also lead to diplomatic fallout and harm trade relations. Instead of a military solution, a more effective approach would involve addressing the root causes of drug abuse and adopting harm reduction strategies. If force is used, it should be in collaboration with the Mexican government and focus on targeting the most violent and destabilizing organizations. Military force alone is not the solution to the cartel problem, and policymakers should carefully consider their objectives to avoid another costly military intervention.