Why Mexico is a Higher Priority than Afghanistan
Recently I was finishing up 'The Revenge of Geography' by Robert Kaplan and in his last chapter he brings up a point that I found fascinating that I believe was originally from Samuel Huntington. The United States since 2001 has wasted inordinate amounts of money and manpower trying to stabilize Afghanistan, all the while Mexico, which has a population that is predicted to grow to 145 million people by 2050, remains dangerously close to becoming a failed state right on our southern border.
Mexico has a host of issues, most notably the issues of political corruption and violence between drug cartels, which neatly go hand-in-hand and benefit each other. Drug cartels pay off politicians to not interfere with their business and as a result ordinary Mexicans continue to pay the price for the violence that occurs between the cartels themselves and between the cartels and the state. Mexico has some of the highest murder rates in the world and due to the mountainous territory and power of the drug cartels, the central government is unable to exert full control over its entire territory. It is danger of turning into a densely populated narco-state that offers no protection or economic benefits for its citizens. This will cause the number of migrants to increase on our southern border, which has already had a destabilizing effect on the political system of the United States, as the Republican party have decided to wall off the country entirely from immigrants, while Democrats have decided that we should welcome everyone that arrives at our borders, which I don't believe is sustainable, particularly if we are unable to work towards a stable, prosperous Mexican state.
Rather than focus on stabilizing the near-failed state on our southern border, the United States has spent the last 18 years trying to stabilize Afghanistan - a country in Central Asia that, if not for the September 11th attacks on the United States, most people my age would probably fail to identify on a map. The original mission in Afghanistan has expanded too far. In my opinion, we should have left after we toppled the Taliban leadership, as we had shown that we were capable of decimating the regime at will if the chose to continue to harbor terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. The mission ended up expanding beyond that however, to turning Afghanistan into a full fledged Western-style democracy. 18 years later it is hard to say this has been anything other than a failure, as the Taliban controls more territory than ever and the most recent Presidential elections this past weekend had a voter turnout of around 25%. Afghanistan is already a failed state and we have been unable to change that, so why do we continue to waste our money there? Even if we were to bring about a stable Afghanistan, the only benefit that would come from the couple trillion dollars we spent in the process would go to China, which would now finally be able to capitalize on a stable Afghanistan and build energy infrastructure like natural gas pipelines. China actually shares a border with Afghanistan and should be the one dealing with instability in its region, which would have the added bonus of taking away resources the Chinese could be spending on beefing up its presence in the Pacific.
Let China focus on the failing, unstable countries in its region and the United States should focus on ours. We would be in a far greater position to challenge China in the 21st century if we spent our vast resources on stabilizing the countries in our hemisphere rather than countries that share a border with one of our main global adversaries.