Sunday, March 29

Washington continues to play ostrich about Mexico (UPDATED 2X)

Earlier, while still free of Mexican diplomatic and political pressure, the U.S. military accurately assessed the potential threat of Mexico devolving into a failed state in this JFCOM planning document (we won’t be seeing anything like this in public again, barring leaks): [...]
The quote is from Zenpundit Mark Safranski's A Mexican Standoff with Reality. He has written a gravely important post on the Mexico situation, which dashes the notion that the country is in no danger of becoming a failed state.

As the above quote indicates, there has been enormous pressure on the U.S. government to repudiate the claim that Mexico's government is in danger of falling. I understand the etiquette of the situation: it's not very nice to go around saying that your next door neighbor is a basket case. But the bottom line is quite literally that: before Mexico "fails," the government will fall to the kind of Leftist revolution that has overtaken several Latin American states.

Make no mistake, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who still insists that the 2006 presidential election was stolen from him, has the winds of the economic downturn at his back. And in a letter last week to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (see below), he made it clear that he believes that U.S. assistance to help President Calderón fight the drug cartels is an interventionist move intended to prop up Mexico's elite -- or 'oligarchy,' as Mark more correctly terms them.

Mr Obrador is right. In Mexico, the United States never abandoned its Cold War policy of propping up the ruling class to stave off a Leftist takeover; Vicente Fox's selection was simply a fig leaf for the policy.

This hopelessly outmoded and destructive U.S. policy continued even after it was patently obvious that Mexico had become a tinderbox -- and that Fox was unwilling or unable to prod the oligarchs to accept substantial tax increases.

Instead of taking the hard path, he went along with the obscene policy toward the poor that Prime Minister Tony Blair, China's leaders and the World Bank-IMF pushed, and which President Bush accepted: The policy boiled down to 'Let Mexico's Poor Eat Remittances.'

To top it off, Fox continued to support neoliberal policies (read 'Thatcherite/
Reaganite' economics), even though he knew that Mexico did not have the advanced legal and social safety nets that British and U.S. citizens enjoyed.

The upshot was a populist movement that nearly swept Obrador into power. Less than two years later, a tsunami of violence fueled by widespread corruption is threatening to topple Mexico's government.

Mr Calderón has shown surprising and admirable courage in confronting drug lords and corrupt officials, but he must find even more courage and get the elite to turn out their pockets more.

What must NOT be done, and which Hillary Clinton is already offering to do, is for the U.S. to hurl more aid at Mexico to help the government build up the middle class and needed infrastructure.

No; that's the job of Mexico's elite. If the U.S. keeps doing their job for them, they'll never find the impetus to change.

From his letter, clearly Obrador wants more U.S. development aid for Mexico, but surely he's aware that this business of the U.S. throwing Mexico aid, combined with remittances, has only helped to keep the elite off the hook. So any additional U.S. aid -- no matter how worthy the project -- should be tied to real political change in Mexico.

As to the $80 million in military aid that Mrs Clinton has promised Mexico for purchases of Black Hawk helicopters -- Sigh. Of course this is just a fancy way of handing a subsidy to the U.S. defense industry. But at the same time it sends a message to Mexico's elite that they don't have to cough up the funds for the copters.

I understand that given all the recent publicity about violence near the border, the U.S. government now feels under tremendous public pressure to Look Busy in Mexico. But if it were my call I would not allow the violence to rush me into making a move that's going to fall back on the USA because it's not good for Mexico.

Instead, I would beef up security stateside. And just to show the oligarchs that I meant business, I'd make sure that the blasted border fence is completed and fortified.

And if this hasn't been done already, which I hope it has, I would open backchannel discussions with Obrador. Of course the discussions would be leaked but that would be the point. If that gossip wouldn't light a fire under Mexico's oligarchs, nothing would.

If no one wants to go that far, why not speed dial The Washington Post and ask if they'd consider inviting Obrador to write an op-ed? An op-ed in the Post is huge. It would be money in bank for Obrador; he could wave the op-ed in the faces of the elite. They'd take one look and say, 'Uh oh. Washington is listening to him.'

The problem, however, is that Washington following common-sense policy with regard to Mexico threatens to upset a big U.S. applecart. Agri-business industries in America's southwest have been raised up on the back of dirt-cheap Mexican labor, as has the upperclass lifestyle that the middle class in those states have been able afford because of Mexican cooks, maids, nannies and gardeners.

Obrador has said 'No' to all that; he doesn't want Mexicans immigrating to the U.S. or being day laborers here. He wants Mexico to have enough decent-paying jobs so Mexicans will stay in Mexico.

But because Washington has been unwilling to acknowledge that they've promoted policies that are bad for Mexicans -- and for U.S. export trade with Mexico -- nothing has been done to move toward a sensible U.S. policy on Mexico.

Translation: If you really want to address Mexico's problems, first deal with the agri-business lobbies in the U.S. and with all those southwestern voters who weep for the plight of Mexican immigrants, but who would kill before they'd let go of their maids and gardeners.

So make your choice: Put more Americans to work as fruit pickers, hound Mexico's oligarchs to build up necessary social structures in their country, then reap the rewards in booming U.S. exports to better-off Mexicans. Or continue down the same road.

The right actions might be driven, as so much common sense in U.S. government policy has been driven in the post-9/11 era, by terrorist actions. The U.S. government is playing down the threat from large numbers of Hezbollah member slipping into the U.S. from Mexico. But you have to be born yesterday to keep telling yourself that Hezbollah is simply expanding their piece of the illicit Mexican drug business into the USA.

The increasing level of sophistication shown by the Mexican assassins has been matched by the increasing sophistication and preponderance of tunneling into the United States from Mexico.

Hezbollah (and Hamas) are tunnelin' fools. They love to tunnel. And just as in Lebanon and Gaza, take out one tunnel and they build another as soon as your back is turned. And, of course, both organizations are trained by the Iranian military.

So somebody tell me again that there's nothing to be alarmed about at this time. Whaddya want? Las Vegas captured and wired with a nuke before you'll start worrying about Hezbollah in the USA?

And actually, there's a silver lining to Hezbollah pussyfooting around on our border, and we should take advantage of it, instead of ignoring it. Hezbollah solves the sticky diplomatic problem of dealing with Mexicans who're huffy about U.S. fence-building:

'Oh, it's not you we're worried about; it's them damn Islamic terrorists.'

And I don't want to hear, 'But Obrador is a Communist.' Really? Have you read his 2006 presidential campaign platform? Yes, he did the bread-and-circus routine while he was Mexico City's mayor. What else could he do?

But read the platform, which is a straight-up plan for using tax dollars to build necessary infrastructures and shore various sectors for job creation. Then tell me whether he's a Communist. It's a jobs stimulus plan, for heaven's sake.

However, Mexico will turn much further left than Obrador unless more of the masses find some economic relief. So it's your choice, Washington. Continue supporting the elite. Or read the writing on the wall and act according to what you see there.

Before turning the floor over Obrador, I will leave you with one of the observations in Zenpundit's post: "It would be far better to prioritize Mexico as a national security issue today, than let it evolve into a transnational powder keg tomorrow."

Obrador's letter to SECSTATE Clinton. Translation to English via Narconews:
> Rejection of all interventionist behavior, Andrés Manuel López Obrador warns in a letter to Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State.

> Ready to "defend our right as a free and sovereign Nation"

> "It is an error to want to confront the problems of insecurity and violence with only an iron fist, soldiers, jails, tougher laws, and stiffer penalties."

Mexico City. March 25, 2009

Mrs. Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
Government of the United States of America

Esteemed Mrs. Clinton:

Even though only Mexicans can confront and resolve our homeland's internal issues, we consider it to be pertinent, given what you represent, to express to you the feelings of millions of citizens who struggle daily in order to make justice and democracy a reality in Mexico.

From our point of view, the problems of insecurity and violence in our country have arisen from the prevailing corruption and impunity, and because there hasn't been economic growth for 26 years and millions of youths have been marginalized from education and haven't had work opportunities.

You surely know that all of this began when a group of about 30 traffickers of influence and corrupt politicians, using the cover of so-called neoliberal economic policies, took control of the Mexican State, as well as a good part of national and so-called public goods. And these policies of pillaging that has enriched a minority in an exaggerated and obscene manner, in a way that has not occurred in any other part of the world, has condemned the Mexican people to exile and survival.

That is why we believe that it is an error to want to confront the problems of insecurity and violence with only an iron fist, with soldiers, with prisons, with tougher laws, and with stiffer penalties. The solution to the scourge of criminality lies in rescuing the State, in changing the current economic model, and in guaranteeing the people better living and working conditions. It can't be forgotten that peace and tranquility are fruits of justice.

Mrs. Clinton: As a result, as we have also made known to President Barack Obama, we maintain that the solution to the phenomena of migration and insecurity will not be found in the construction of walls nor in border militarization. Rather, it will be found in Mexico's social and economic development.

Therefore, it is essential that the relationship between Mexico and the United States is built upon cooperation for development and not in the use of coercive measures.

Likewise, we express to you that even though we suffer from a usurper and failed government, whose weakness could lead it to enter into agreements that go against the national interest, a strong citizen movement also exists that is determined to impede any interventionist behavior and to defend our rights as a free and sovereign nation.

We respectfully send you our regards and we wish you a nice stay in our country.


Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Legitimate President of Mexico
UPDATES March 30

Sites that link to this post

Dan Riehl at Riehl World View
Richard Fernandez at Pajamas Media
Procrustes at RBO (crossposted with illustrations)

Malcolm Hoenlein discussed the Hezbollah presence in Mexico with John Batchelor last night. I've been listening to Malcolm's reports to John for six years; from this I know that when he's concerned about a situation, it's wise to pay attention.

To hear the discussion, click on the Hour 3 segment podcast of the March 29 East Coast part of the John Batchelor Show. The report on Mexico starts around the 5 minute mark in the interview, which is the first one on the segment.

Also see this published speculation from an African news site about a link between FARC and Iran.

On a lighter note Dan Riehl lets us know that the Mexico problem is America's fault. Thanks, Dan, for making my day.

Of course Calderón has a point about corruption among U.S. officials being a factor in the illicit drug trade. But just see what Secretary Clinton has started with her 'Kick Me Beat Me' approach to diplomacy. And as Dan's post shows, the BBC was all too happy to oblige.

In response to ZenPundit's Mexico post and mine on the same topic, Procrustes at RBO has pulled together a highly readable study, complete with graphics, on the question of failed states.

The study is titled Are Mexico, Afghanistan, and Pakistan failed states? If so, then what?


Dymphna said...

boy, he sure sheds a different light on things.

Do you have any background material on this man?

I'd love to read it.

I'm passing this on to Fausta, since she is Hispanic and her blog deals with things south of our border.

She will be interested...

Pundita said...

Yeah, Mark really blows the lid off. Are you asking for info on him, or Obrador? lol If it's Mark, see the profile at his Zenpundit blog.

frankwolftown said...

When you say neoliberal policies like the one Regan and Thatcher did what do you mean by that? I thought they were associated with conservatism?

Pundita said...

Frank, I like your question so much that I'm writing a post to answer it. Check back in about an hour to see it. :-)

Pundita said...

Frank, that was a long hour but the post explaining neoliberalism is up now.