Mexico: Arguably, the most important foreign-policy question to the United States isn't Iran or Afghanistan or China -- but neighboring Mexico, where nearly 35,000 people have died over the last five years as a result of the raging narcowar. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón began his crackdown on drug cartels in 2006, Mexico has been transformed -- and not necessarily for the better. The United States is intimately involved in the conflict; American drug users drive demand for the Mexican narcotics trade. Even more directly, 90 percent of the firearms used in the conflict are thought to come from north of the border.
So far, Barack Obama's administration has focused on managing security challenges along the U.S. border, providing Mexico with military assistance, and helping curb the flow of American guns into the south. Last May, the White House also announced that an additional 1,200 U.S. troops would be sent to monitor the border. Obama has visited Mexico, as has Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Mexico on Monday.
Why won't it come up? Because Mexico is a lightning rod, not just because of drug policy but also immigration, somethign both parties have struggled to tackle in recent years. Obama, who has said he wants comprehensive legislation and considered moving forward with a new policy right after the administration floated health care, warned last fall that he's unlikely to be able to find the political support to get it passed anytime soon.
U.S. Special Agent Rodney Irby guards marijuana seized on Jan. 18 in the Tohono O'odham Nation, Arizona.
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