Mexico: A Deepening Crisis and Strategic Challenge for the US

August, 2021

Published by: Centro de Estudios Estratégicos del Ejército del Perú / Strategic Studies Institute - U.S. Army War College

Publications · Strategic Analysis Notebooks Series

Mexico: A Deepening Crisis and Strategic Challenge for the US

By Evan Ellis. This publication is possible thanks to a collaboration between the Strategic Studies Institute - U.S. Army War College (SSI) and the Peruvian Army Center for Strategic Studies (CEEEP).


Dr. Evan Ellis


Mexico, the neighbor which with the U.S. is most directly connected through shared borders, commerce and investment, and bonds of family, is in deepening trouble in ways that profoundly affect both its people and fundamental U.S. strategic interests. The violent struggle that Mexico has waged against criminal groups, particularly during the previous two sexenios of Felipe Calderon and Enrique Peña Nieto, is in danger of being lost. There are multiple credible indications that Mexico’s criminal cartels have compromised key parts of the current government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) at the highest levels, amidst a problem-ridden security apparatus that per the “hugs not bullets” policy of the AMLO government, makes only superficial efforts to combat them.

To be clear, the U.S. shares a degree for responsibility for Mexico’s current plight. Unaddressed problems in the US continue to prejudice Mexico, including the significant persistent drug demand, and the repatriation to Mexico of money from drug sales in the US, which deepen the corruption of Mexico’s institutions. Similarly, firearms purchased legally in the United States and smuggled into Mexico by criminal actors, contribute to the deaths of Mexicans. Likewise, the flow of immigrants through Mexican territory, bound for the US, fuels countless criminal activities, including the illicit business of transporting those immigrants, as well as those who rob, extort, and exploit them.