Who is Wile E. Coyote? Power, influence and the war on drugs

Mark Aspinwall, Simon Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Thucydides said that 'Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must'. Such is the characterization by many scholars of the US dominance of Mexico. We challenge this claim in explaining a puzzle: why American unilateralism in the 'war on drugs' results in symbolic and material gains for Mexico as it shifts the United States from a unilateral to a cooperative policy. We examine five major cases over the last five decades and identify a dynamic cycle that begins with unilateral US action and ends with bilateral agreements, where mechanisms for clear communication are created, and resource transfers take place. Although we recognize that our claims are both contingent and context-dependent, a clear pattern emerges: Like the Roadrunner, Mexico has triumphed again.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-175
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • American foreign policy
  • Mexico
  • drug war
  • material power
  • social power
  • unilateralism

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