President Trump’s surprise revelation last week to talk show host Bill O’Reilly that he had moved to designate Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) begs some hard questions. For the last few months, President Trump explained, the proposal has been going through a process of consideration, probably the U.S. State Department’s six-steps for FTO designation, so it’s not official yet. That’s good, because someone needs to hit the pause button on this.
The designation of cartels as terrorists a la the Islamic State and al-Qaeda portends a dramatic restructuring of the American counterterrorism enterprise built after 9/11 to suppress Islamic jihadist groups. How adding a highly populous new class of “terrorists” to the workload would be done without creating Attention Deficit Disorder for the war on Islamic terrorism is never explained. This whole endeavor should be put up for some public comment until it is.
Depending on which and how many of the nine major cartels are