How Will Obama Handle This Whole Mexican Drug War Thing?

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

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A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit

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Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
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