The arrival of Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 Republican presidential primary race hasn’t exactly shaken things up, but they have solidified what was already a rather remarkable trend. Reason's Matt Welch points out that all six Republican contenders are backing the idea of conducting military strikes inside Mexico targeting Mexican drug cartels.
What was once a Donald Trump idea so dangerous that his own military staff had to jingle a set of keys to distract him from it every time he proposed it is now conventional wisdom within the Republican Party. One can expect DeSantis to echo Donald Trump's opinions on everything, given that the man has done his level best to wear Trump's grievances and mannerisms like a second skin, but Scott is an underdog candidate who could stand to distance himself a bit from the frothing far right.
One of the better ways to do that distancing would be, say, to not reflexively support a U.S. military invasion of Mexico in order to keep Chinese-manufactured drugs from crossing the U.S. border. Nope, Scott chose the path of maximal Trumpism: "When I am president, the drug cartels using Chinese labs and Mexican factories to kill Americans will cease to exist. I will freeze their assets, I will build the wall, and I will allow the world's greatest military to fight these terrorists."
We covered this last month when Rolling Stone reported that Donald Trump, a seditionist, was once again asking campaign policy advisers to draft military options for conducting air strikes or other operations against the cartels. The notion of bombing Mexico in a war on drug traffickers is self-evidently stupid, and it gets worse the more you think about it. Even if you can get past the idea of the U.S. military conducting strikes against Mexican targets without Mexico's consent, there's very little to strike at. Unless you plan on leveling entire Mexican towns, aka, the Kissinger doctrine of Screw Everyone and Everything, the premise would be to spend tens of millions of dollars in individual airstrikes to take out random apartment buildings and AirBnBs.
The fentanyl trade has Mexican drug cartels as one stop among many. The actual chemicals themselves are smuggled to Mexico from China, and Republicans are not, so far, proposing we bomb the factories actually producing the stuff. Smugglers in Mexico then have to do little but mix the final product and press it into pills, a process so simple that it can be done anywhere and everywhere. The finished pills are then smuggled across the border with the cooperation of American criminals; Mexico is not, so far, contemplating military strikes against U.S. police union heads or white supremacist groups, even though the U.S. market for illegal drugs has done far more damage to Mexico than it has the United States.
"What if we just bomb them all" is the kind of boot fart thinking that the most craven conservative faux-intellectuals pipe up with roughly six times a week, and "What if we bomb Mexico to hurt the drug cartels?" has gone from a Donald Trump post-dinner burp to a universal party belief in less time than it's taken to investigate an attempted coup.
This happens every time. Every single time Donald Trump mumbles some half-assed scheme cribbed from the only people in Republicanism craven enough to work for him, within weeks, it becomes new party doctrine.
It's not that Donald Trump can run a hotel just a block from the White House, one catering specifically to prospective supplicants, and have the entire Republican Party insist that that couldn't possibly be corruption, not like Hunter Biden selling a painting might be. It's that the party now backs Putin's invasion of Ukraine and backs pardons for violent coup conspirators, now that Donald Trump's unparalleled corruption has forced them to take sides on the issue.
None of these people are going to be able to make a dent against Donald Trump in the primaries, because not a damn one of them is willing to differentiate themselves from Trump's radicalism, anti-Americanism, and crimes.
Bombing Mexican apartment buildings to take out gangs of pill-pressing smugglers is not a realistic option. Weakening the demand for fentanyl on this side of the border would do much more to make the trade less profitable, but Republicans don't want to do that because it reeks of social spending. "What if we just bomb them all," though, is an idea every fascist and fascism-agnostic Republican can get behind.
Donald Trump has been asking advisers to draft plans for military attacks inside Mexico
Police union executive charged with moving drugs—including fentanyl—into the U.S. since 2015
Biden admin lays waste to GOP's fentanyl lies, announcing new measures to crack down on trafficking
We speak with Anderson Clayton, the 25-year-old chair of North Carolina’s Democratic Party. Clayton has a big-picture plan for 2024, and explains the granular changes needed to get out the vote on college campuses and in the rural communities of the Tar Heel State.