Securing Manifest Destiny

Mexico’s War on Drugs, Crisis of Legitimacy, and Global Capitalism


  • Steven Osuna California State University, Long Beach



global capitalism, neoliberalism, War on Drugs, Manifest Destiny


This article argues Mexico’s war on drugs was a tactic by elites in both the United States and Mexico to legitimate the Mexican neoliberal state’s political, economic, and ideological governance over Mexican society. Through tough on crime legislation and maintenance of free market policies, the war on drugs is a “morbid symptom” that obfuscates the crisis of global capitalism in the region. It is a way of managing a crisis of legitimacy of Mexico’s neoliberal state. Through arguments of Mexico as a potential “failed state” and a “narco-state,” the United States has played a leading role by investing in militarized policing in the drug war and securitization of Mexico’s borders to expand and maintain capitalist globalization. In the twenty-first century, the ideology of manifest destiny persists, but instead of westward expansion of the U.S. state, it serves as the maintenance and expansion of global capitalism.


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How to Cite

Osuna, S. (2021). Securing Manifest Destiny: Mexico’s War on Drugs, Crisis of Legitimacy, and Global Capitalism. Journal of World-Systems Research, 27(1), 12–34.



Capitalist World-Economy in Crisis: Policing, Pacification, and Legitimacy