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America Is To Blame For Mexico's Drug War

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Nearly 10,000 people in Mexico have died in drug-related violence since January 2007. Who or what is to blame? Some say it is America’s insatiable consumer demand for illicit drugs and the constant flow of our guns, which arm the cartels. Others believe that Mexico’s own government is ineffective in controlling the trade of the drug cartels because of rampant corruption in law enforcement in the country. The US Congress, unable to ignore the rising violence spilling over the border, has approved $700 million in security aid for Mexico, and has promised hundreds of federal agents and intelligence analysts devoted to the problem. Officials on both sides wonder whether this will make a dent in the problem. Has our own “war on drugs” been ineffective, or even counterproductive? Should Mexico’s government take full responsibility for what goes on within its own borders? Should the very idea of criminalization of drugs be re-examined?

The Debaters

For the motion

Andres Martinez

Director, The New America Foundation's Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program.

Directs the New America Foundation's Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program. He was the editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times from 2004-2007... Read More

Jeffrey Miron

Senior Lecturer, Harvard University

is senior lecturer and director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. Miron holds a B.A. from Swarthmore... Read More

Fareed Zakaria

Editor, Newsweek International

Was named editor of Newsweek International in October 2000, overseeing all Newsweek’s editions abroad. The magazine has an audience of over 24 million... Read More

Against the motion

Asa Hutchinson

Former Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration

Asa Hutchinson is CEO of Hutchinson Group, a homeland security consulting firm, and practices law in Northwest Arkansas.  Hutchinson was the... Read More

Chris W. Cox

Executive Director, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA)

Is the executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association of America. Cox oversees... Read More

Jorge Castaneda

Former Foreign Minister of Mexico

Was foreign minister of Mexico from 2000 to 2003. Castañeda is a renowned public intellectual, political scientist, and prolific writer, with an... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Because the U.S. has not taken adequate action to prevent the illegal smuggling of weapons across the border, many of the guns used in drug-related violence in Mexico can be traced back to the United States.
  • The U.S. government has failed to effectively regulate and manage its $65 billion market for illegal drugs and has left Mexico with the geographic disadvantage of being placed between a booming market and a major source of its products, including Colombia and Bolivia.
  • For decades, America has pressured its allies to prohibit drugs and enforce anti-drug policies; this global criminalization of the drug trade has forced the drug industry to forgo legal conflict resolution structures and resort to violence and vigilante justice.
Against The Motion
  • Mexico’s government limits American aid in combating drug-trafficking from Mexico into the United States, claiming that direct U.S. intervention violates Mexican sovereignty.
  • America is not to blame for the culture of political corruption in Mexican governance that has allowed for the breakdown of Mexican law-enforcement and ability of drug cartels to operate with impunity.
  • Though Americans are consumers of Mexican drugs, they are not a singular market and the rise of drug cartels in Mexico cannot be solely attributed to the American markets.


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The Research

The Research

The Mérida Initiative

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs June 23
March 1, 2016

Lawmakers Scrap Plan for 300 More Miles of Fencing on Mexican Border

Christopher Sherman
October 10, 2009

Interactive Map

March 1, 2016
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