On Point: Co-opted Drug Cartels Are Enemy Hybrid Warfare Operations

by Austin Bay
June 14, 2023

In February of this year, 21 U.S. states asked the Biden administration to officially label Mexican drug cartels terrorist organizations. The states' attorneys general making the request made this argument: designating Mexican criminal cartels as FTOs, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, allows the U.S. to use more than that federal police, state police and judicial power to confront them. As FTOs, federal military and intelligence assets enter the fray.

The AGs said that such destructive "forces just across our southwestern land border, and the Mexican government's inability to control them, pose a threat to our national security far greater than a typical drug-trafficking enterprise..."

With national security threatened, all elements of national power must defend American citizens against cartel violence, deadly drugs and social-cultural devastation. The AGs noted drug overdoses killed 100,000 Americans in the preceding 12 months and fentanyl was involved in two-thirds of the deaths. Mexican drug cartels imported fentanyl-making raw materials from China.

Communist China is the world's primary source of fentanyl. Beijing either ships it directly to the U.S. or smuggles it via Mexico.

In 2017, the National Interest called China's drug strategy vis-a-vis the U.S. the "Reverse Opium War." From 1839-1842 China's Qing dynasty went to war with Britain to stop the Brits from selling opium in China. The drug threatened Chinese social cohesion.

Fentanyl kills Americans and destroys social cohesion.

One attorney general making the February request, Virginia's Jason Miyares, noted the major Mexican cartels have direct connections to foreign terrorist organizations. Miyares specifically mentioned Lebanese Hezbollah, the terrorist group that perpetrated the October 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing. Hezbollah's murderous outrage killed 307 human beings.

Do the math: Mexican drug cartels collaborate with an FTO that has waged war with America for 40 years.

Here's the logic: If X (Hezbollah) is a foreign terrorist organization, and Y collaborates with X, it's slam-dunk certain Y is acting as an operational asset of X.

The question that frustrates Beltway bureaucrats: Does operational asset make Y -- in this case Mexican criminal cartels -- an FTO?

Soft words, diplomatic hints -- nuances matter when all parties and organizations respect laws and value human life. But the lawless? Count the bodies: Cartels and terrorists are lawless.

Unfortunately, Washington bureaucrats, diplomats, lawyers and the Biden administration are constrained by antiquated definitions.

In the bleeding world, America's enemies, the terrorists, the criminal cartels and the enemy nation states who employ them have learned how to evade the Beltway Clerks' definitions.

In 2008 very smart people were already wrestling with how to define the Mexican cartels' sensational violence. The better minds noted that U.S. anti-drug laws were quite potent, if applied. Moreover, a conflict existed between U.S. domestic law and the law of war. Turning the Cartel War into a U.S. war would effectively rob Mexico of sovereignty -- that was a legitimate argument.

But we no longer face a domestic-versus-international war. We face a type of hybrid war with Foreign Adversary Collaborating Hybrid-Warfare Organizations.

If the term is to long for talking heads, too bad. FACHWO is an awful acronym, but it describes a number of enemies, especially the Mexican criminal cartels. They do the societal dirty work of communist China.

The social destruction operation is right out of Qiao Liang's and Wang Xiangsui's "Unrestricted Warfare." Weather balloons, lawyer jargon, fentanyl, strict definitions of terrorism -- all are weapons Beijing uses to degrade America.

Read Austin Bay's Latest Book

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


On Point Archives:

On Point Archives: Current 2023  2022  2021  2020  2019  2018  2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close