- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2023

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is reacting angrily to Republican lawmakers backing military force against drug cartels who recently kidnapped Americans and are trafficking deadly fentanyl into the U.S.

He said requests for President Biden to use military force within his borders is an affront to Mexican sovereignty.

“We are not going to allow any foreign government to intervene and much less foreign armed forces to intervene in our territory,” he said Thursday at a news conference.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, and Sen. John N. Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, want to designate specific Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations.

A separate Graham proposal calls for authorizing the use of military force — the same mechanism that deployed troops to Afghanistan and Iraq — against the cartels, though Mr. Kennedy has not signed onto this idea.

Mr. Graham said troops would not forcibly enter Mexico but could assist efforts to destroy labs.

Drug agents say much of the fentanyl that pores into the U.S., killing tens of thousands of people per year, is manufactured by Mexican cartels using Chinese chemicals.

The White House says it has the powers it needs to confront the cartels, and the Pentagon has raised concerns that any proposal to deploy the military south of the border would threaten Mexico’s cooperation in efforts to hold the cartels at bay.

As U.S. lawmakers grow impatient with his efforts, Mr. Lopez Obrador has pointed to demand in the U.S. as a driver of the drug problem. He also urged Hispanic voters in the U.S. not to vote for Republicans who push for military force in his country.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican and prominent champion of using force against the cartels, told Mr. Lopez Obrador to “bring it.”

“Get a grip. You should be campaigning against the cartels who are MURDERING your own people, not the Americans who want to help eradicate them,” the congressman tweeted.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Sen. John N. Kennedy’s position on a proposal to authorize military force against the Mexican cartels. Mr. Kennedy has not signed onto the proposal to use military force but supported designating the cartels as terror groups.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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