Send troops to take on drug cartels? Good idea, but count the costs first

Send troops to take on drug cartels? Good idea, but count the costs first

Send troops to take on drug cartels? Good idea, but count the costs first

Calling for the use of "military force "in Mexico in the fight against fentanyl may make for great sound bites for politicians – but a retired U.S. Army officer says it may not be very plausible for a future president to pursue without exhausting other options first.

Two GOP presidential hopefuls have touched on the subject in recent weeks. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley stated during an interview last month that if she were president, she might authorize the use of military force in Mexico to combat the ever-increasing supply of deadly fentanyl streaming across the nation's southern border into the United States:

Haley: "We're not going to wait. We're not going to let any more Americans die. Either [Mexico] does it, or we do it. But one of us is doing it."

During last week's GOP presidential primary debate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis echoed that sentiment:

DeSantis: "I'm going to use the U.S. military to go after the Mexican drug cartels. They are killing our people. I guarantee you … this border is going to be a day one issue for me as president. We're going to declare it a national emergency. Yes, we'll build the wall, we'll do 'Remain in Mexico' – but those Mexican drug cartels are going to be treated like the foreign terrorist organizations that they are."

Like Haley and DeSantis, conservative commentator Sandy Rios supports the use of U.S. troops to take out Mexican drug cartels.

"I think we are in such a dangerous place in this country that unusual measures should be considered. I really do," Rios tells American Family News. "Our border is a disaster. I don't know how many ways to say that. We are watching the breakdown of American sovereignty – and I'm for whatever will stop that."

She adds: "I'm sure that Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis have thought through that [scenario]. Ron is a military guy. If he's proposing that, I would support him."

Understand this: There would be consequences

American Family News spoke to Lt. Col. Darin Gaub (USA-Ret.), a former UH-60 Blackhawk pilot and co-founder of the nonprofit Restore Liberty. He suggests DeSantis' and Haley's words need "a bit of rephrasing" and a possible reality check – although he doesn't disagree with their sentiment.

"What each of them is actually saying is that they're willing to invade a foreign nation with the U.S. military in order to attempt to curb cartel activity along the border," he tells AFN.  "[So] you've got to call it something more than just 'we're willing to use the military.'"

Gaub, Darin (Restore Liberty) Gaub

That kind of hypothetical mission would require "tactics in Mexico," he points out, reemphasizing that "what they're asking America to support is the invasion of a foreign nation by the U.S. military."

For Gaub, it begs the question: Are DeSantis, Haley, Rios, and others really prepared to deal with the consequences of doing something like that with the country's southern neighbor?

"First of all, we would move from being a nation with values to a little bit of a pariah state with many of the people around the world who would be watching," he warns. "There would also be economic consequences from nations who would no longer be willing to trade with us."

And speaking as a "military guy," he acknowledges: "I would say military intervention is not a bad idea – but if you're advertising it and you're striking people of a foreign nation, who makes that decision?" he asks.

"These kinds of decisions need to be made within the halls of Congress, which is the only one who's allowed to declare war," he points out. "We've got to get away from this idea that the Department of Defense is serving at the will of the president and can just go out and strike a foreign nation."

"It is Congress who declares war," Gaub explains. "The president becomes the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to execute that war, but has nothing to do with the decision on whether or not the country chooses to do it."

Protect our own border for a change

While he doesn't rule out the use of the nation's military to fight the flood of fentanyl, Gaub doesn't believe the U.S. has exhausted other options to secure the border.

"I would be more inclined to propose taking the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea off the border between North and South Korea and put them on our own border," he states. "We could also stop funding Ukraine and their border skirmish with Russia and focus on protecting our own border.

"We don't have to invade a foreign nation like Mexico to protect our southern border," Gaub concludes. "We need to enforce the border that already exists."

Editor's note: Rios made her comments in a separate interview with American Family News.