In an unusually frank admission, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that America’s “insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade” with Mexico, where more than 7,000 people have died in cartel-related violence in the past 15 months. Clinton also acknowledged that weapons smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico had caused “the deaths of police officers, soldiers, and civilians.” Her comments came last week during a two-day trip to Mexico aimed at repairing frayed U.S.-Mexican ties.
While praising Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s “courage” in standing up to the drug gangs, Clinton tried to soothe anger over a recent Pentagon report that said Mexico was at risk of falling into chaos. Mexico faces a “public safety challenge,” she said, but is in no danger of becoming a “failed state.”
“Clinton’s remarks are blunt, unambiguous, and entirely welcome,” said the San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial. It’s about time that a senior American official “spoke the obvious, hard truth” about our role in fueling Mexico’s spiraling drug-related violence. But Clinton offered few new approaches to a problem that has plagued both countries for more than 20 years. The best she could do was hint that the U.S. would try to reduce demand for illegal drugs.
There’s a disturbing symmetry to the trade between the U.S. and Mexico, said Ruben Navarrette in USA Today. About 90 percent of the U.S. cocaine supply comes from Mexico, and about 90 percent of the weapons wielded by Mexican drug gangs come from the U.S. At the very least, the U.S. must quickly deliver “every dime” of a promised $1.4 billion funding package, so that Calderón has a chance to succeed in his battle against the cartels.
The U.S. can help, but we also have to “protect ourselves,” said Mark Krikorian in National Review Online. Mexico may not be a “failed state,” but lawlessness is on the rise, and the prospect of millions of refugees pouring over our border is not far-fetched. That’s why we need to complete our border fence. And we certainly should not offer amnesty to Mexicans already here illegally—unless we want “to spark a refugee surge.”