Republicans’ Weird Plan to Abandon Ukraine and Invade Mexico


Then-Sen. Barack Obama, in explaining his opposition to the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq, said, “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war.”

For their part, Republicans are not against all wars — they only oppose the smart ones.

In a matter of months, Republican support for a smart war that serves our national interest, helping Ukraine defend against the Russian invasion, has steadily dropped. Meanwhile, the party’s support for a really dumb war — unilateral military attacks against drug cartels in Mexico to stop cross-border fentanyl trafficking — has nearly become party dogma. 

Republican presidential candidates Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recently advocated such military action. DeSantis promised to send U.S. special forces to destroy the fentanyl labs on “day one.” Leading House and Senate Republicans have proposed broad authorizations for using U.S. military force in Mexico.

In 2020, Defense Secretary Mark Esper realized that President Donald Trump was serious about attacking Mexico when he twice asked Esper about using missiles to destroy Mexican drug labs and making it appear that “no one would know it was us.” Esper wrote in his memoir that, had he not been looking Trump in the face, he would have thought it was a joke.

Fentanyl killed more Americans in 2022 than died in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined. But a second Mexican-American War will not significantly disrupt the Mexican fentanyl production facilities. Even Trump national security adviser John Bolton, known for his bellicosity, said that unilateral military operations “are not going to solve the problem.”  

The ungoverned one-third of Mexico offers plenty of space for concealed fentanyl production in small, widely dispersed laboratories. One lab was set up in the middle of a cow herd. The drug cartels, which would be Mexico’s fifth-largest employer if they were a single entity, are nothing if not resilient because, despite losing dozens of workers every day to the police or internal violence, they remain in business.  Since there is so much money to be made from American drug addiction, the U.S. will have to keep bombing continually rebuilt drug laboratories. In other words, Republicans will have gotten us into another “forever war.”  

Moreover, Mexico will not just stand by while the U.S. flagrantly violates its sovereignty and re-opens the wounds of the Mexican-American war of 1846 to 1848. That war, still a source of “pride and shame” for Mexicans, cost the country half its territory, but Mexicans still celebrate the valiant defense of Mexico City from the American invaders by young teenage cadets, who committed suicide rather than surrender. Republicans apparently assume that, even if Mexico resisted, it would be quickly overwhelmed by US military might.

That thinking, which echoes the Kremlin’s mindset when it invaded Ukraine, presupposes that the invaded country will fight alone with no external support. Actually, Mexico has a potential ally to help defend against American attacks on the drug cartels — Vladimir Putin.  

If you think that is far-fetched, consider that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called the Republican proposals for military force against the drug cartels an “offense to the people of Mexico, which does not take orders from anyone.” And consider that López Obrador, who has condemned the U.S. for supplying arms to Ukraine, recently invited a contingent of Russian soldiers to march alongside Mexican soldiers in a military parade, perhaps to send a signal to Republican invasion hawks. 

If Ukraine loses the war because Republicans blocked military assistance, and the U.S. instead attacks Mexican drug laboratories, we may witness a stunning reversal. Russia could eventually be supplying Mexico with NATO weaponry captured from Ukraine, including Patriot missiles and HIMARS rocket systems, to defend against an American military attack.   

Source : The Hill