Last May, Obama, who entered office promising to reverse his predecessor’s reckless foreign policy, became the longest-running wartime president in American history. To the right, Obama has—through irredeemable cowardice or other, more sinister motives—bungled “victory” in Iraq and Afghanistan. To the left, he has elevated the Bush administration’s endless warfare doctrine to new, technocratic heights. Where all agree is that Bush’s War on Terror is now Obama’s, too.
The same can be said—but rarely is—of Bush’s War on Drugs. Today, Obama will host bilateral talks with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The visit comes as the State Department considers whether to certify Mexico for full funding under the Merida Initiative, the massive “security” package formulated during the Bush years and—in keeping with the general pattern—perpetuated, in reduced form, under Obama.
In an unprecedented move last year, the Obama administration withheld the 15 percent of aid conditioned on Mexico’s human rights performance, which remains abysmal. Advocacy groups hope the decision holds this time, but in the larger sense, it hardly matters. Since the escalation of the drug war in 2007, more people have been killed in Mexico—to say nothing of Central America’s blood-soaked Northern Triangle—than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The fallout from this carnage will be the next president’s problem, and building a “great” wall along the border is the closest either candidate has come to proposing a solution.