Mexico is a war zone again. But anyone who believes that’s just Mexico’s problem, think again; American national interests are at unprecedented risk.
Cartels’ smuggling syndicates are at each other’s throats along Mexico’s northern border and in Pacific states known as the Tierra Caliente (Hot Zone) as Mexico sends in its military. The warfare has left hundreds dead and whole city blocks scorched, vehicles burning, and citizens taking shelter from hours-long gun-battles. Millions of Mexicans are readying for worse to come. But so too should Americans. Because, unlike past drug war conflicts in Mexico, the paramilitary armies are swollen like never before with military-grade weaponry bought and paid for by millions of foreign nationals who answered the siren call of President Joe Biden’s open-doors border over the last 20 months, paying cartels huge amounts of money to cross into the United States. The cartels’ growing arsenals and Mount Everest-sized piles of new cash may unalterably compromise Mexico’s central and state governments like never before.
The very real prospect that America would lose even its current imperfect, wanting partnership with Mexico’s government portends serious security, public safety, and even wide-ranging economic impacts on the American people.
I’m not alone in my estimation that Biden’s cartel-enriching mass migration crisis poses serious threats to important U.S. national interests, including many that are rarely discussed out loud, such as Mexican oil and auto-parts exports.
“The criminal organizations in Mexico have made a lot of money off our lax border enforcement, and it stands to reason they’d invest a substantial percentage of that money into the thing that gives them their power,” Christopher Landau, ambassador to Mexico from 2019 to 2021, told me in a recent telephone interview. “Their power is measured in terms of money and weapons. The more money and weapons they have, the larger stick they’ll be carrying and the more influence they carry in Mexico.”
“It stands to reason that anything that increases the power of the cartels in Mexico is adverse to our interests,” he said.
The U.S. needs at least a minimally reliable Mexican government partner for matters of tracking fugitives, controlling illegal immigration when desired, interdicting drug trafficking, intelligence-sharing for bi-national criminal investigations, and on a wide range of other national security matters.
Empowered Cartels Might Threaten Exports to U.S.
In the past, the cartels avoided actions most likely to provoke U.S. demands that Mexico conduct military crackdowns, raids, arrests, and (worst of all) extraditions of cartel suspects to the United States for prosecution. All of that was bad for business.
But what happens when what is left of Mexican government autonomy is reduced any further, or entirely, too intimidated or bought off to retaliate on behalf of America? The probability that Mexico’s newly muscular cartels become true puppet masters of Mexico’s central government stands at a high-water mark, only rising the longer Biden allows his mass migration over the southern border to continue fabulously enriching them.