In a recent interview, President Trump announced his intention to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorists. This is neither a unique nor fashionable idea; the proposal has been discussed and discarded by both the Trump and Obama administrations. I know because I was there during those deliberations, which never lasted long because it became quickly apparent that the move would provide no meaningful benefit, and could do much harm.
To the layperson, it may seem obvious that drug cartels meet the State Department’s broad criteria for inclusion on its Foreign Terrorist Organization, or FTO, list: 1) they are foreign-based; 2) they carry out terrorist activity; and 3) the terrorist activity is a threat to U.S. national security interests. So why not add the cartels to the list?