The fentanyl epidemic cannot be solved by waging yet another war on drugs.

The fentanyl epidemic cannot be solved by waging yet another war on drugs.

The United States is now dealing with the most severe drug epidemic in its entire history. Fentanyl is responsible for a record number of deaths in the United States. In 1971, when President Richard Nixon first declared war on drugs, the yearly death toll from drug overdoses stood at 6,771. In 2016, there were 107,375 fatalities in the United States that were attributed to drug overdoses. Fentanyl was responsible for approximately 70 percent of those deaths.


Unfortunately, owing to strained ties with other nations that are engaged in the supply chain, attempts to shut off the flow of fentanyl have reached a stalemate and are unable to go further. As a direct consequence of this, an increasing number of lawmakers in the United States are advocating for military intervention. This irresponsible language will only serve to worsen the situation and drive important partners farther away. The issue has never been adequately addressed by declaring war on drugs. It is time to adopt a new tack in this situation.


The creation of fentanyl began in China, where what seem to be genuine pharmaceutical businesses sell precursor chemicals to front companies owned by Mexican drug gangs operating in Sinaloa and Jalisco. After that, these two cartels utilize the ingredients to manufacture fentanyl, which they then transport to safe houses in the United States through land, sea, and air before distributing it all across the country.


At first, it seemed like China might be willing to engage with the United States to stem the supply of fentanyl, clamp down on direct sales, and even collaborate with U.S. law enforcement on drug investigations. China had shown promise in these endeavors. But as tensions increased between the two nations, cooperation decreased and was eventually publicly discontinued when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August of 2022.


The relationship between the United States and Mexico is less tense than it is with other countries, but it has worsened since the United States detained one of Mexico’s previous defense ministers in 2020 on suspicion of conspiring with a drug cartel. In response, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, often known as AMLO, exerted enormous pressure and threatened to expel Drug Enforcement Administration personnel from Mexico unless the general was returned. AMLO is generally known as AMLO. In the end, the United States obliged and withdrew all charges; nevertheless, collaboration between the two nations in the areas of law enforcement and intelligence was severely damaged. Although high-level bilateral discussions in April may have paved the path for increased cooperation, AMLO has avoided addressing Mexico’s participation in the pandemic. Instead, he has blamed American families and “a lack of hugs” for the fentanyl problem. This is despite the fact that the meetings took place in April and that they occurred at a high level.


In response to the lack of cooperation shown by source nations, a number of lawmakers have called for the involvement of the military. Both Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have lately called on President Joe Biden to send the United States military into Mexico to take on drug gangs. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has also made statements along these lines. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Michael Waltz (R-Florida) also proposed a measure earlier this year that sought authority for the use of military action and “put us at war with the cartels.” Later on, Crenshaw was given the responsibility of leading a task committee that was tasked with developing a Republican response to the criminal organizations. A significant number of senior United States officials see China’s participation in this issue as only one more argument in favor of taking a combative stance.


Former President Donald Trump has suggested sending in special troops and engaging in cyber warfare against Mexican drug gangs if he were to be reelected, and he has reportedly requested his aides for “battle plans” to attack Mexico. Republican Ron DeSantis, who is running for president and is now the governor of Florida, has made similar pledges throughout his campaign. These words, according to AMLO, are both reckless and hurtful to the Mexican people, and he has said that his nation “does not take orders from anyone.”


The fact that senior U.S. officials and aspirants for the presidency are making statements along these lines is cause for anxiety, even if such an intervention seems implausible. It would be a declaration of war to use military action against cartels in a foreign nation clearly against the will of that government. These harsh words immediately undercut any attempts being made to reestablish a bilateral partnership.


Both the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels have previously been identified as Transnational Criminal Organizations by the United States government, which paves the way for the implementation of economic penalties and other financial instruments. Legislators in both houses want to go this a step further by labeling both groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. This would give the United States military more choices for where and how to launch strikes against the groups.


However, the fruit of one’s labor would not be worth the effort. At most, these kinds of steps would eliminate a few people, but they would not disrupt the fentanyl trade. This would be the sell-off for severing our connection with our most important trading partner. If anything, unilateral military intervention would further destabilize a huge portion of Mexico’s ungoverned area, which would drive enormous numbers of people seeking refuge to the United States border and further strain the capacity of the immigration system in the United States.


It is not difficult for a nation that has a strong and well-resourced military to resort to the use of force, and placing blame on other nations helps prepare the way for this course of action. However, rather than resolving the drug problem in the United States, these moves would dramatically restrict the alternatives available for U.S. foreign policy. Instead, the United States needs to keep working for the improvement of bilateral collaboration on this matter and concentrate its efforts on finding domestic solutions that would not only assist Americans but also our relationship with Mexico.


Since AMLO has said that addressing Mexico’s internal security issues is more important than assisting the United States in combating the drug scourge, the White House needs to make it abundantly apparent that the two issues are intertwined. Every year, 200,000 firearms are trafficked into Mexico from the United States, leading to the horrifying level of gun violence that exists in Mexico today. It is believed that between 70 and The United States was the country of origin for ninety percent of the firearms that were discovered and confiscated in Mexico between the years of 2014 and 2018.

Taking measures to lessen the effect of this might go a long way toward easing the process of working together, and it could also weaken the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels in the process.


The White House is likewise constrained in its ability to address the immigration problem because of its dependence on Mexico. Reforming the immigration system in the United States on a comprehensive level would give Washington greater influence to encourage collaboration with Mexico.


There is no easy answer to the present drug issue; rather, the problem will need multifaceted approaches that take into account both the supply and demand for fentanyl. It is essential to begin by placing more of an emphasis on a foreign policy that emphasizes collaboration and diplomacy over one that emphasizes military action.



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