In a break with past presidents, Obama acknowledged that U.S. demand for drugs was fueling the violence. "I will not pretend that this is Mexico's responsibility alone. Demand for these drugs in the United States is what is helping to keep these cartels in business," said Obama.
Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said last weekend that the U.S. should seriously debate legalizing marijuana in order to curb violence and reduce the power of the cartels. Instead, Obama pledged a tougher, coordinated onslaught against the cartels.
In doing so, he downplayed the prospect of an outright victory.
"Are we going to eliminate all drug flows? Are we going to eliminate all guns coming over the border? That's not a realistic objective," said Obama. "What is a realistic objective is to reduce it so significantly, so drastically that it becomes once again a localized criminal problem, as opposed to a major structural problem that threatens stability in communities along those borders and that increases corruption and threatens the rule of law."