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As Mexico goes, so goes the US

Congress and Obama finally wake up to Calderón's bold war on drug cartels.

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Congress, in a burst of hearings, has a sudden interest in Mexico's war on drug traffickers – and the spillover into the US. If this new-found concern finally cements a sustained partnership with Mexico and ends America's benign neglect of its neighbor, then ¡viva!

Mexico's war on the powerful drug cartels began in 2006 when a courageous new president, Felipe Calderón, realized their corrupting threat to the country's democracy. He has deployed more than 30,000 troops to root out the gangs, igniting a secondary war between them that has hindered their trade but led to thousands of murders – some in the US.

It's not "mission accomplished." Mr. Calderón still needs an equal measure of courage from Washington to reduce the massive drug consumption among Americans and to curb the flow of arms to the cartels, as well as provide more aid to Mexican security forces that was promised last year.

If Congress needs an incentive to act now, it would lie in two recent developments: The cartels have rapidly expanded into hundreds of US cities and have shifted some of their business to human trafficking, or smuggling Mexicans into the US, often in abusive ways. This month, federal agents arrested 755 alleged members of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel operating in the US and seized $59 million in criminal proceeds.

President Obama, perhaps aware of the potential political backlash from these threats, has dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Mexico this week. He will visit next month, but Mrs. Clinton might be the best person to guide Congress to work with Mexico on a whole range of issues, from immigration to drugs, that bind the two countries. Like it or not.

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