Mexico's drug problem is America's problem. That was particularly evident this month when hit men murdered three people connected to the U.S. Consulate in Cuidad Juarez. So it was good to see President Barack Obama's senior national security team visit Mexico this week to underscore America's commitment to fighting drug-related violence.
The $331 million aid plan the administration announced should lay the basis for a much more effective counternarcotics strategy. Rather than supplying Mexico with military aid to fight the drug war, Washington will now focus on building strong civilian institutions — effective local police forces, a functional judiciary and community groups in the border towns struggling with poverty, violence and crime.
That was the right message with the right messengers: the secretaries of state, defense and homeland security. The violence that killed 3,400 people in Mexico the past year stems heavily from the American appetite for drugs and the trade of weapons across the border. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said proposals to cut drug demand and gun smuggling will be unveiled soon.
Drug violence in Mexico threatens to spill even farther into American cities as gangs battle to control territory, exact revenge and maintain pipelines. Obama's security team signaled the American interests at stake. But the United States will need to follow through if it hopes to keep the drug-related violence from exploding across both sides of the border.