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OPINION

Invading Mexico Is Yet Another Terrible Idea

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Christian Chavez

Let’s agree that it is perfectly right and proper to hunt down and destroy all the Mexican drug cartels and their armies of sicarios, corruptocrats, and torturers. They are animals who are at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans through shipping fentanyl in through Joe Biden’s open border. What they have done to the Mexican people is even more unspeakable. But we can seal our border, and if it is not worth the necessary bloodshed to the Mexicans to crush their criminal networks, it is unclear why it is worth it to us. With one narrow exception, the idea of unleashing our military on Mexico is a bad one.

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It’s not bad because we think the proper response to criminal gangs is peace, love n’ flowers. Screw them. We are not pacifists – we are America First conservatives. These evil scumbags are worthy of whatever horrible fate befalls them, whether through the magic of a 5.56mm round or a 155mm shell or a JDAM. Morally, it is beyond question that we would be in the right invading our neighbor, wiping the cartels out, and coming home. But it is not that simple. Real life is not that easy.

If only it were. This talk is coming not only from the war whackos but also from some people who we would typically find ourselves agreeing with – Tom Cotton and MTG come to mind. And the talk is understandable to some extent. Americans are frustrated, and they should be. We want action. There’s a problem and we want to solve it. But we don’t want to create a worse problem.

As people in Washington talk more and more about using our military to fight the cartels, first ask yourself why you would ever believe that our incompetent civilian leadership would be any more successful unleashing our incompetent military leadership next door than it was in Iraq or Afghanistan. Oh, we eventually sort of won in Iraq – if you grade on a curve and forget about the current whole Iranian influence and continuing ISIS things. The less said about Afghanistan the better. But hey, we’d surely do a lot better getting into a bloody insurgency next door when we have millions of Mexican citizens inside our country. 

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Let’s look at the situation, specifically the battlespace and the enemy forces. Mexico is a generally modern country that has a long and famously open border with us. It has cities and it has a lot of backcountry, so you can have both urban and rural insurgencies. Oh, and does Mexico ever have a long history of insurgencies. Understand that these are patriotic folks who will not just roll over for the gringos. Today, the enemy is a couple hundred thousand homegrown criminals. Tomorrow, if we invade, the enemy is us. Send in the US Army and every Mexican patriot is going to take up arms in their homeland – and here in ours too, where a Schiff-ton of Mexican patriots live. So, enjoy fighting in our homeland as well. 

We have a history of this. America invaded Mexico on several occasions. There was the Mexican War, which was largely conventional. We won. And this time, Mexican conventional forces would last about an hour – if we wanted to re-roll down the road to Veracruz, no one could stop us, but that was true in Iraq too. The problem was not getting to Baghdad or Mexico City. The problem was what happens after. 

Well, maybe we don’t do a full-scale invasion, though if you plan to root out endemic criminality that’s what you would need to do. How about a punitive campaign limited to the border areas? You know, like in Afghanistan. Remember the “you break it, you buy it” model. If we take over ground even for a little while, we take over…everything. If you think Ukraine is expensive, I got some bad news for you. And have you ever heard of the US going somewhere and leaving quickly? We’re still in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Kosovo. Anyone psyched for a tour running patrols in beautiful Oaxaca? And what do you think the remnants of the Mexican Army will do? Probably what the remnants of Saddam’s army did. And who do you think the Mexican people, who are really a key center of gravity for a counterinsurgency campaign, will side with – the Yankees or the local bad boys? It’s a quagmire. And do you think America is prepared for the time and blood – ours and theirs – necessary to subdue at least Northern Mexico?

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What about a real punitive expedition – go in, cap some cartel guys, come home? We tried that with Pancho Villa. It went poorly. Villa and his guerillas – who had crossed the border and murdered a bunch of Americans in one of our towns – simply faded into the countryside. So will the narcos. Do you imagine the cartels will not just flow back in to refill the void when we, inevitably, pull out in disgrace?

Oh, how about sending in the snake-eaters to dismantle the cartels? Those special operations guys are pretty cool. Back them up with some drones and bombers and we just decapitate the cartels and problem solved, right? Not so fast. What makes those Green Berets and SEALs, and those drones, so effective? Intelligence. Lots of intelligence. Which means…people on the ground gathering intelligence in order to know where to send the raiders and what to shoot with Hellfire missiles continuously during a campaign. Think the Mexicans will hand us the intel we need? Doubtful. So, we still need a huge footprint if we want to do any more than a one-off raid.

But there may be a good reason, in a specific circumstance, for a true one-off raid into Mexico to cull some cartel creeps. That arises if the cartels target and kill innocent Americans. Then some of the bad guys have to die. 

Romans used to walk the earth in their togas secure in the knowledge that no barbarian would dare lay a hand on a citizen of the Republic or Empire. We need to cultivate the same level of respect. If innocent Americans who are not part of some shadiness get targeted – if you are shady, you are on your own – then brutal payback is crucial. We must be feared. 

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But a war in Mexico to “defeat the cartels” is nonsense. That’s not a strategic objective; that’s a cliché. You defeat enemies; you suppress crime to a manageable level – these are different things. Moreover, the cartels are not ours to defeat. The cartels are Mexico’s problem. To the extent they are our problem, that is because we have chosen to let them be our problem by failing to perform the basic task of defending our southern border. It’s pathetic that we do not perform this basic function of government, and war is not a proper substitute for that lack of resolve. War takes even more resolve. And it must be viewed as worth the price. It is impossible to see how America could build a national consensus to support this mission. If you are not prepared to go to the mom of a dead 82nd Airborne trooper and tell her that Jimmy died doing the job Mexicans refused to do themselves and because we won’t build a wall, maybe don’t suggest Mexican War 2.0.

It's not hard to understand the motivation for these fantasies about driving south with however many divisions – divisions we do not have, since normal people are now refusing to join the woke military that showed its contempt for its troops with the COVID vaccine fiasco. Even if it was worth war, do you trust these buffoons to win it? Could our leadership even manage to competently invade Mexico, either in terms of logistics or tactics. Well, at least we can be sure that our troops are prepared for their most important tasks. How do you say “trans awareness training” in Spanish?

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Let’s seal the border and keep out of other people’s fights until we can reform our broken Pentagon and get our military reformed back to greatness. Say no to Black Hawk Down south of the border.

Follow Kurt on Twitter @KurtSchlichter. Get Inferno, the seventh book in the Kelly Turnbull People's Republic series of conservative action novels set in America after a notional national divorce, as well as his non-fiction book We’ll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America.

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