State governments assume the sole responsibility of protecting the wellbeing of their populations and ensuring sustainable growth and development. Traditionally, the foreign policy of nation states emphasized on matters addressing diplomacy, trade policy, and national security. Issues relating to environmental protection and drug trafficking were accorded a secondary status. Seemingly, the trend has changed significantly and currently, matters pertaining to drug training are at the center stage of the United States’ foreign policy. The congress mandates generation of annual reports on measures that are undertaken to address this concern and promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Failure to provide these culminates in adoption of stringent measures including discontinuation of foreign aid. The drug trafficking issue within the US foreign policy raises various controversies because of the effects that it has on both domestic and international politics. America’s drug trafficking foreign policy with Mexico seeks to address this problem and find lasting solutions to the same.
Drug trafficking is a disturbing social issue that impacts negatively on the wellbeing of both America and Mexico. The two nations struggle with various challenges including rampant corruption, barbarous murders, and fire fights that emanate from drug trafficking. These cost them significant resources and strain their relationship in different ways. The two nations collaborate in addressing the concern and seemingly, their efforts have borne desirable outcomes. Despite these successes, the escalating level of violence, deep rooted corruption, and Mexico’s laxity in law enforcement continues to derail reforms. Besides hindering the efforts, the weaknesses have negative effects on the image of both nations. The purpose of this paper is to underscore the American foreign policy with Mexico and the growing war on drugs. It analyzes the efforts that both nations are making to address this social problem and restore normal functioning of their populace. Although the American foreign policy is determined to curb drug trafficking and counter the related negative effects, inherent weaknesses and Mexico’s ineffective anti-drug strategy prevent attainment of important goals and objectives.
American Foreign Policy in Mexico
The efforts to prevent and /or reduce the inflow of illicit drugs into the United States have been fruitless and in the past decade, the production of illicit drugs in Mexico has risen significantly. The effectiveness of various policy approaches including the international narcotics program in reducing consumption is surrounded by various controversies. Despite the national political urge to deal with this matter, intrinsic contradictions appears between its anti-drug policy and critical international concerns and goals. Certainly, the drug control policies that it adopts towards Mexico affect the Mexican economic wellbeing and politicalstability. This is due to the fact that narcotic production is deeply entrenched in the Mexican society and contributes significantly to its economic wellbeing (Longmire 73).
The first drug strategy that the US foreign policy with Mexico assumes pertains to broadening of its bilateral cooperation with Mexico and adoption of workable solutions to the common problem of drug trafficking (Longmire 82). Through the Merida initiative, the two governments planned to spend up to 1.4 billion dollars in addressing the activities of criminal cartels (Longmire 82). The decision was based on the recognition that the activities of criminal organizations were complex and had far reaching effects on sustainable development of both nations. Although Mexico understood the complexity of this problem, it lacked sufficient resources to address it effectively. Besides use of aircrafts and vehicles, the initiative invested in technological transfers as well as education and training. These aimed at empowering the law enforcement skills of the Mexican officials in an effort to ensure efficient performance.
Specifically, assistance targets training and equipping law enforcement officers, building the prosecutorial capacities of relevant authorities, and liaising with various agencies to fight the social malpractice. Further, this initiative supports improvement of drug treatment centers, promotes effective gang prevention strategies, and fosters drug awareness education. Reportedly, the American government undertakes drug intelligence and shares the results with the Mexican government (Francis and Mauser 160). This ensures that both governments understand the nature of the problem and stay ahead of the enemies. Establishment of the platform Mexico network increases the capability of Mexican law enforcement officers to collect, analyze, and disseminate important information pertaining to drug trafficking. This cooperation is a sustainable way of dealing with Mexican drug cartels that cause various social problems by improving the level of trust and commitment of both nations.
The only limitation is the recognition that the financial assistance in aid of the initiative from the US government is very slow. Emergent research attributes delays in disbursements to common disputes between the Administration over Human Rights and the National Congress (Francis and Mauser 162). Also, the high tech equipment is expensive and requires significant resources. The US government faces the challenge of providing sufficient resources in a timely manner. This compromises the efforts of the initiative and makes it difficult for the Mexican government to implement the agreed upon strategies. Nonetheless, the US government’s approach to addressing the issue in this regard is achievable and apparently, working with the Mexican government is sustainable because of the intrinsic sense of ownership.
In addition to cooperation, the US foreign policy adopts the containment approach in an effort to address the social menace. This comprises of various domestic actions that law enforcement authorities and other security agencies undertake to negate the negative implications of drug trafficking and related criminal activities. Blocking the smuggling activities keeps the problems associated with drug trafficking in Mexico at bay. The US government takes practical measures to seal its border including establishment of various sensors and detectors, use of uniformed guardians, and development of strong physical barriers (Friesendorf 63).
Currently, the government of the United States strongly believes that it has the ability to contain the drug trafficking problem that Mexico faces. Thus, it continues to modify its border security policy in a bid to attain high level efficiency. Besides the preceding interventions, the government allocates significant stimulus funds to support the efforts of its law enforcement authorities. In this respect, Longmire established that in 2009, it allocated four hundred million dollars to the initiatives (Longmire 96). The US government is committed to ensuring that various agencies collaborate with each other in pursuit of important goals and objectives. This involves adoption and implementation of a comprehensive policy that is effective in keeping the drugs outside of the nation’s borders. For instance, The National Southwest Border Counternarcotic Strategy has been particularly useful in meeting this objective. This strategy seeks to reduce the inflow of illicit drugs and related proceeds, disrupt gun smuggling activities that drug traffickers undertake, dismantle drug trafficking gangs and organizations, and enhance counter drug technologies amongst other interventions (Longmire 102).
Certainly, the efforts that the government is making with regards to safeguarding the US border are imperative. From the outlook, it is committed to sealing off the drug entry points from Mexico. Such measures prevent proliferation of drug trafficking activities in Mexico due to lack of a ready market for illicit drugs. Agreeably, this helps in preventing the malpractice and ensuring the safety and general wellbeing of populations. However, some of the projects are compounded by various controversies. For example, the effectiveness of the virtual fencing scheme remains questionable (Longmire 109). The stimulus money allocated for completing border security upgrades triggers considerable infighting within the congress because of the problems that stem from corruption and ineffective use of the funds.
Acceptance of Co-responsibility
In this regard, the US government officially accepts co responsibility for the drug trafficking menace in Mexico (Martinez 63). America acknowledges that to a given extent, its drug consumption habits contribute directly to the persisting social problem. Furthermore, the government’s laxity with respect to preventing illegal smuggling of weapons across the border arms the gangs and criminals. With these, they are able to pursue their operations with ease, undertake violent activities, and kill law enforcement officers as well as civilians.
The co responsibility strategy points out various weaknesses in the American domestic policy. It implies that government authorities and stakeholders are not taking sufficient measures to address the concern and counter the practice. In response to these claims, the American government has assumed the responsibility of reducing the demand for the illicit drugs from Mexico. Specifically, it readily tackles matters pertaining to illegal trafficking of arms, evaluates and revises domestic policies that govern drug consumption, and ensures implementation and enforcement of drug law (Martinez 71). Nonetheless, the fact that efforts have been unyielding and the drug trafficking problem is persistent shows that the government’s commitment to enforcing the existing laws is wanting.
Drug Trafficking in Mexico and its Response
The Mexican drug challenge remains a persistent problem that has huge implications on the functioning of both the United States and Mexico. Statistical evidence indicates that drug smugglers from Mexico smuggle in to the United States up to seven hundred tons of cocaine annually (Longmire 78). In addition, Mexico cultivates and harvests tons of marijuana on a domestic scale. In a bid to increase production and maximize profits, the gangs are expanding their operations into the United States. Seemingly, the drug trafficking industry fetches significant profits. This explains why the traffickers engage in the practice regardless of the heavy penalties that they face upon being caught.
Recent reports ascertain that the Mexican government intervenes by identifying operations and taking necessary measures to counter the practice. Besides killing the cartels, it arrests major drug dealers. In addition, Francis and Mauser indicate that the government seizes tons of cocaine on an annual basis (Francis and Mauser 163). In addition, it is committed to capturing and recovering illegal arms that the cartel gunmen use and arresting and prosecuting drug dealers.
Nevertheless irrespective of these efforts, the deaths that are associated with drug trafficking continue to rise in both countries. Cartel gunmen target various individuals including persons in witness protection programs, recovering addicts, and media journalists. By killing them, they succeed in concealing evidence and continuing with their operations undisrupted.
Drug violence in Mexico has led to the emergence of criminal organizations that use complex and sophisticated terrorist-like methods and military-like professionalism. A typical example of such gangs includes the Zetas that pose security threats in both Mexico and the United States (Friesendorf 84). Besides being efficient in collection of intelligence, the Zetas have highly coordinated military operations and use sophisticated weapons. In addition to engaging in drug trafficking, the cartels exploit vulnerable public organizations such as the oil industry (Friesendorf 86).
Mexico’s Policy Weaknesses
The Mexican government appreciates that drug trafficking is a national problem that requires concerted efforts in order to combat it. As such, it has taken immense measures to eliminate the gangs and safeguard its society against the negative effects of the activities. However, there are certain weaknesses that compromise effective pursuit of its goals and objectives. To begin with, inadequate reform of its law enforcement agencies derails the national efforts with regard to fighting drug trafficking. According to Martinez, its state and municipal police forces are often dismissed because of incompetence and engagement in corrupt deals (Martinez 91). In most instances, police officers would rather resign than stand up against drug smugglers. Besides improving their compensation, the government faces the challenge of providing law enforcement agencies with superior training, instituting higher standards of recruitment, and vetting its law enforcement officials frequently.
In addition to employing violence, Mexican drug traffickers use the power of corruption to influence government decision making in different ways. Researches indicate that government officials are often bribed by the drug cartels in order to allow related operations (Longmire 50). The fact that the officials share in the proceeds makes it difficult for them to fight and eliminate the social vice. Finally, lack of political will makes the government officials to distance themselves with policies addressing the problem. Arguably, Mexico has the ability to deal with drug trafficking and its negative effects but lacks the political will and commitment to address this issue effectively.
Essentially, America’s foreign policy with Mexico regarding drug trafficking focusses on eliminating the persistent problem. However, due to apparent weaknesses in the policies of both nations, it has not been successful in achieving this goal. America and Mexico appreciate that drug trafficking undermines sustainable growth and development. The policy measures that the United States employs have various implications on the social and economic wellbeing of Mexico. From the preceding review, it is certain that drug trafficking is a contentious issue that influences various sectors of both the American and Mexican society. Besides partnering with Mexico to address the issues, America’s policy recognizes the containment principle that blocks drug entry points along the American Mexican border. Although the initiatives are idyllic, they are compounded by various controversies including lack of funds and inappropriate use of resources. American’s acceptance of co responsibility strategy allows it to formulate, implement, and enforce viable intervention measures. Although Mexico has taken practical steps to address the problem by seizing illicit drugs and prosecuting the criminals, corruption and lack of political will undermine the efforts. Unquestionably, the problem of drug trafficking is complex and the United States requires a comprehensive foreign policy to curb it.
Francis June and Mauser Gary. Collateral damage: The ‘war on drugs’ and the Latin American and Caribbean region: Policy recommendations for the Obama administration. Policy Studies, 32.2 (2001): 159-177. Print.
Friesendorf Cornelius. US foreign policy and the war on drugs: displacing the cocaine and heroin industry. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2007. Print.
Longmire Sylvia. Cartel: The coming invasion of Mexico’s drug wars. London: Palgrave Macmillan Trade, 2013. Print.
Martinez Oscar.Troublesome border. Arizona: University Press, 2006. Print.