We throw the word “terrorism” around blithely to justify extra-judicial or extreme law enforcement measures, to justify expansive domestic surveillance programs, military action, etc.
Cartels are businesses—illegal, violent ones—but ultimately their objective is to make money, not effect political or social change. They don’t seek to overthrow the US government and force everyone to take drugs.
Any action or expense becomes justified in the name of fighting terrorism—take a poll: Should we use drone strikes in countries we are not at war with to target violent criminals who have not been tried? Vs. Should we drone strike terrorists? How different would the responses be? Just by calling someone a terrorist, the government changes the parameters of what action against them is acceptable.
By applying the term “terrorism” so broadly, we start to make every act of criminality an act of “terror” eligible for extreme measures.
Find a better solution.