In the movie "The Three Amigos," a trio of guys team up to rid the world of a band of thugs who are terrorizing northern Mexico.

The presidents of Mexico and the United States, and Canada's prime minister are hoping for something similar.

At their recent rendezvous, President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, President Barack Obama of the United States and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper met in the mountains of Jalisco to hammer out a way to deal with commerce, the swine flu and — most important — the drug bloodbath.

Results, alas, were mixed.

Diplomacy can be bedeviling. And as Obama tried to warm things up with Mexico, Calderon remained cool over the United States withholding aid to fight the drug cartels along the southern border. Old issues surfaced. Yes, the United States is the reason there are narco-terrorists and the United States does bear a responsibility in fighting those cartels. But complicating the issue is the fact the American president has been unable to loosen up restrictions on Mexican trucks crossing north.

In a perfect world, the two issues never would be linked.

But in this world, where national pride and a history of shenanigans on both sides color all thinking, they are.

We commend Obama for making the trip. It shows a sense of priorities.

Still, we regret the leaders weren't able to keep their eye on the ball.

The most important thing at the moment is the carnage taking place on the border over drugs. Yes, the United States is withholding funds because Mexico has played fast and loose with them; but U.S. border guards also have seen a spike in their own criminal behavior.

American foreign policy has always been inconsistent at best — reward China, punish Cuba, for example. So things can be finessed. In this case, sweeping away the cartels should be job No. 1. If that means having to stomach a lack of accountability among some Mexican officials, so be it.

This is an opportunity the United States can't afford to waste. The war on drugs has gone from being a metaphor to being a firefight with decapitated bodies in the streets.

This isn't about diplomacy. It's about national security.

Get the funds to Mexico. Do what needs to be done to laser out the cartel cancer.