On Wednesday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted a picture of what she described as an opening salvo in a hot war with Mexico.
“Explosive found by Border Patrol Agents Jan 17th,” Greene tweeted above a picture of a duct tape-wrapped item. “Agents have surveillance of who brought it in and when and confirmed it was the Cartel. This changes everything. Not only are the Cartels murdering Americans everyday through drugs and crime, but now they are planting bombs on our land in our country. Our US military needs to take action against the Mexican Cartels. End this Cartel led war against America!”
But the object wasn’t a bomb, the head of the U.S. Border Patrol tweeted later that day. It was a “duct-taped ball filled with sand that wasn't deemed a threat to agents/public.”
That hasn’t stopped Greene from calling for military force against Mexicans. She and a growing Republican coalition have spent this month agitating for armed action against Mexican cartels, including international military operations and drone strikes on Mexican soil.
Greene’s duct tape scare came one day after she announced support for a bill by fellow Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw. The bill would authorize the use of U.S. military force in Mexico against cartels. Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham held a press conference promising similar legislation in the Senate.
“The second step that we will be engaging in is give the military the authority to go after these organizations wherever they exist,” Graham said. “Not to invade Mexico. Not to shoot Mexican airplanes down. But to destroy drug labs that are poisoning Americans.”
Though Graham might not call it an invasion, other Republicans have made clear that they support military action in Mexico, whether Mexico’s government welcomes it or not.
In an interview with NewsNation earlier this month, longshot Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said that one of his first acts as president would be to take out cartels “Osama bin Laden-style, Soleimani-style. This is doable and this is something that I actually expect to do as the next president of the United States in the first six months,” he declared.
Ramaswamy said he would first ask Mexico’s president to undertake the campaign. “We can help you if you do this job, but if you do not, we will come in and do it for you,” Ramaswamy said.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has indicated that he would not take kindly to such a demand. In a speech earlier this month, he hinted at a public relations campaign against Republicans who supported military action against Mexico. “We are not going to allow any foreign government to intervene and much less foreign armed forces to intervene in our territory,” López Obrador said.
Some Republicans arguing for intervention have even gone so far as to claim that Mexico isn’t really a sovereign nation anymore. Trump’s former CIA director (and later, secretary of state) Mike Pompeo wrote in an op-ed on Thursday that Mexico “has either lost or abdicated control of vast portions of its own country. Its total lack of sovereignty was made clear last week when four Americans were kidnapped.” Pompeo was referring to a recent attack on four Americans visiting Matamoros for medical tourism, which left two of the travelers dead.
Pompeo claimed to have lobbied for drone strikes on America’s neighbor during the Trump administration. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, a Republican, also bemoaned on Fox News last week that the Trump administration had not bombed drug labs across the border.
“One of the things we learned post-Trump presidency is that he had ordered a bombing of a couple of fentanyl labs, crystal meth labs, in Mexico, just across the border, and for whatever reason the military didn’t do it,” Comer said on Tuesday. “I think that was a mistake.” (It’s not clear that Trump even made such an order. Comer’s claims appear to originate from former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who wrote in a recent book that Trump asked him about the possibility of secretly firing missiles into Mexico.)
Crenshaw and Graham’s proposed legislation has breathed new life into efforts to designate cartels as terrorist organizations. On Monday, Republican Rep. Chip Roy reintroduced a bill that would slap a terror label on a set of Mexican cartels, effectively melding the War on Drugs and the War on Terror.
Some of the Mexico hawks are simultaneously holding themselves out as peacemakers in Ukraine, calling for an end to U.S. aid to the country, which is fending off attacks from Russia. Greene, who has called for cutting off aid, has repeatedly misrepresented a quote from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to claim “he said he wants our sons and daughters to go die [fighting] in Ukraine.”
In her calls for war in Mexico, Greene invoked Ukraine to call for action against America’s southern neighbor.
“There is a war going on that affects every single American, but it’s not in Ukraine or the Middle East, it’s on our Southern border,” she tweeted.