Secretary Clinton's two-day loop through Mexico last week underscored the growing influence of the drug-fueled violence flaring across the country on American policy. Foreign Policy analyst David Rieff offers some perspective.

Ms. Clinton's meeting with Mexican officials was the strongest public comment yet on the failure of bilateral policies to confront the drug problems. Neither campaigns to reduce American demand for narcotics nor Mexican enforcement and prosecution methods have resulted in much. President Obama will likely be promoting a new drug strategy for Mexico when he travels to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas in a few weeks.

The violence in Mexico has claimed 7,000 lives since January 2008, mostly in cartels and law enforcement. Civilians have also been caught up in the cross-fire in growing numbers.

David Rieff told Big Think that the situation in Mexico "is the gravest threat to a Latin American state since the attempt by the Colombian drug cartels 15 years ago to do a similar thing, which was in effect to create free zone for themselves that the state would understand could not be challenged. That failed in Colombia but only barely."

Further viewing:

Stirring photos by Mexican photojournalists following the drug war

Top intellectual Enrique Krauze's op-ed on Mexico's mischaracterization as a failed state

The Washington Post's series, Mexico At War