Is America To Blame For Mexico's Drug War?

Fareed Zakaria i

Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, argues for the motion "America Is To Blame For Mexico's Drug War" during an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on Dec. 1. Chris Vultaggio hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Vultaggio
Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, argues for the motion "America Is To Blame For Mexico's Drug War" during an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on Dec. 1.

Chris Vultaggio

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Coming Up

On Jan. 19, a panel of experts will debate the motion "California Is The First Failed State."

In Mexico, thousands of people have died in drug-related violence in the past three years as the government has ramped up its war on drug cartels. But is the United States to blame for Mexico's drug woes?

Some argue that the United States bears responsibility because of its market for illegal drugs, along with the flow of guns south of the border. Others blame Mexico's government, saying it permitted a culture of corruption to flourish and resisted U.S. help for decades.

A panel of experts recently faced off on the topic in an Oxford-style debate. Part of the Intelligence Squared U.S. series, the debate featured three experts arguing for the motion "America Is To Blame For Mexico's Drug War" and three arguing against.

In a vote before the debate, the audience at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts voted 43 percent in favor of the motion and 22 percent against; 35 percent were undecided. After the debate, 72 percent agreed that "America Is To Blame For Mexico's Drug War," while 22 percent remained against and 6 percent were still undecided.

The moderator for the Dec. 1 debate was John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline. Those debating were:

FOR THE MOTION

Andres Martinez directs the New America Foundation's Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program. He was the editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to 2007 and presided over the newspaper's op-ed page and Sunday opinion section. Martinez previously served as assistant editorial page editor at The New York Times and was a member of its editorial board. He was a 2004 Pulitzer Prize finalist and is the author of 24/7: Living It Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegas (1999). He is a native of Mexico.

John Donvan and Jorge Castaneda i

Moderator John Donvan (left) and Jorge Castaneda, former Mexican foreign minister, participate in the Dec. 1 Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. Chris Vultaggio hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Vultaggio
John Donvan and Jorge Castaneda

Moderator John Donvan (left) and Jorge Castaneda, former Mexican foreign minister, participate in the Dec. 1 Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.

Chris Vultaggio

Jeffrey A. Miron is senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the economics department at Harvard University. Miron holds a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published more than 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 50 op-eds in The Boston Globe, nytimes.com, CNN.com and other outlets. Miron's commentary on economic policy has appeared on CNN, PBS and Fox television, BBC radio and other media around the world.

Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all of Newsweek's editions abroad. He writes a column for Newsweek, which also appears in The Washington Post. Additionally, he hosts Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, which airs worldwide. From 1992 to 2000, he was managing editor of Foreign Affairs, a journal of international politics and economics. He is the author of several books, including The Post-American World (2008).

AGAINST THE MOTION

Jorge Castaneda was foreign minister of Mexico from 2000 to 2003. He taught at Mexico's National Autonomous University from 1978 to 2004; at Princeton University; and at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1997, he was appointed Global Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Latin American Studies at New York University. He is the author of several books, including Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants (2008).

Chris W. Cox is the executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association of America. Cox oversees seven ILA divisions, including federal affairs. Prior to joining the NRA, he served as a legislative aide for a member of Congress, managing judiciary issues, including criminal justice reforms and firearms-related matters.

Asa Hutchinson was elected three times to Congress and was confirmed by the Senate both as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and as the nation's first undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 attacks. Hutchinson was also appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the nation's youngest U.S. attorney at the age of 31. He now practices law in Arkansas and is CEO of Hutchinson Group, a homeland security consulting firm.


The Intelligence Squared U.S. series is produced in New York City by The Rosenkranz Foundation.

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