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Republicans Suggest Sending Troops To Mexico To Fight Fentanyl Crisis

A growing number of prominent Republicans are rallying around the idea that to solve the fentanyl crisis, the U.S. must bomb it away, Politico reports. Donald Trump has discussed sending “special forces” and using “cyber warfare” to target cartel leaders if he’s reelected president and asked for “battle plans” to strike Mexico. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill seeking authorization for the use of military force to “put us at war with the cartels.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he is open to sending U.S. troops into Mexico to target drug lords even without that nation’s permission. Lawmakers in both chambers have filed legislation to label some cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move supported by GOP presidential aspirants. Not all Republican leaders are behind this approach. John Bolton, Trump’s third national security adviser, who’s weighing his own presidential run, said unilateral military operations “are not going to solve the problem.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul (R-Texas), for example, is “still evaluating” the idea “but has concerns about the immigration implications and the bilateral relationship with Mexico,” said a committee staff member.


The eagerness of some Republicans to embrace the use of the military in Mexico through legislation suggests that the idea is taking firmer root inside the party. It illustrates the ways in which frustration with immigration, drug overdose deaths and antipathy towards China are defining the GOP’s larger foreign policy. Nearly 71,000 Americans died in 2021 from synthetic-opioid overdoses — namely fentanyl — far higher than the 58,220 U.S. military personnel killed during the Vietnam War. And the Drug Enforcement Administration said in December that “most” of the fentanyl distributed by two cartels “is being mass-produced at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals sourced largely from China.” Democrats are allergic to the Republican proposals. President Biden doesn’t want to launch an invasion and has rejected the terrorist label for cartels. His team argues that two issued executive orders already expanded law-enforcement authorities to target transnational organizations.

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