It’s an exceptionally simple question, and it’s one with which most Americans identify. Kennedy wants to deploy military and law enforcement assets to Mexico and take out the drug cartels operating there who are responsible for more than 100,000 American deaths from fentanyl which is washing across our border at an alarming rate.
It isn’t a particularly unprecedented suggestion. In a different context, when Mexican revolutionary bandit Pancho Villa and 1,500 of his men staged a 1916 raid against the New Mexico town of Columbus, killing not 100,000 Americans but 19. This happened after Villa had captured 18 Americans off a train and slaughtered them.
And for his trouble, Villa found himself faced against Gen. John “Blackjack” Pershing and a host of 6,000 U.S. cavalry troopers. Pershing’s men weren’t just on horseback, they fought using trucks and planes as well. And he chased Villa over half of Mexico, whittling his force down to nearly nothing though not actually capturing the revolutionary bandit.
After a couple of years, America got tired of the Villa pursuit and Pershing was eventually recalled and sent to Europe upon our involvement in World War I. But while we didn’t get to hang Villa for his murderous rampage, that was the last time a hostile foreign power staged an invasion of the continental United States.
Until, that is, the cartels took complete control of the U.S. border and flooded it with people and deadly drugs.
Kennedy doesn’t bring up Pancho Villa, though he’s talking to a large extent about repeating history. Because when Pershing and his contingent went into Mexico, they did so with the blessing of Venustiano Carranza, Mexico’s then-president. Carranza eventually withdrew his consent for our troops to be south of the border, and we’d satisfied most of our lust for revenge, but even an incomplete victory still achieved some key aims.
Namely, that we were in control of that border, and anyone challenging that dominance would be lucky to escape with their lives.
Kennedy demands that Anne Milgram, the administrator of the EPA, get together with President Joe Biden and repeat the history – with current Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as a stand-in for Carranza and the cartels as Pancho Villa and his men – and deploy the U.S. Army, DEA and other federal agencies into Mexico with AMLO’s assent (not that he’d have much of a choice) to blow up the cartels.
Essentially, to run in and arrest everybody. If they don’t want to be arrested, a bullet to the head is actually cheaper.
Pershing killed thousands of Mexicans fighting for Villa. It was a pretty bloody chapter in the history of the border region. But he served notice that what happens south of the border must stay south of the border.
Milgram isn’t going to do what Kennedy demands. He knows that. This is generally a piece of theater. But it’s good theater, Kennedy is right to suggest a military intervention after a lot more Americans have died from cartel and Chinese fentanyl than from the wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq twice and Afghanistan. And this is a discussion we’re going to keep having until someone goes and solves the problem.