From Via Media: ‘Tom Friedman Gets Mexico Right’

Full post here.

Mead links to Friedman’s piece:

A work in progress?:

‘The ongoing success story in Mexico is one of the most important that the American press has missed in the last few years. We keep seeing Mexico as nothing but trouble—drug cartels, illegal immigration—when in fact a new reality is taking shape.’

Well, there appear to be some good things going on.  They have grown some of their own manufacturers into global competitors.  Here’s a list of Mexican companies.  Here’s a paper on NAFTA And The Mexican Economy (income disparities and all).

Friedman:

‘Mexico still has huge governance problems to fix, but what’s interesting is that, after 15 years of political paralysis, Mexico’s three major political parties have just signed “a grand bargain,” a k a “Pact for Mexico,” under the new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to work together to fight the big energy, telecom and teacher monopolies that have held Mexico back.’

Despite the old, Spanish-style, paternal and formerly authoritarian government, the PRI’s long one party-rule (back after a 12 year absence, having ruled for 70 years prior), Mexico will need the support of pluralities and majorities of the Mexican people.  As most Americans are aware, there’s much police corruption, many drug and ‘security’ problems, a less than effective education system, and deep poverty which includes some tribes who don’t even speak Spanish.  Many entrenched and ideological interests support a heavily regulated private sector.

Anyone’s who’s been to Mexico, though, sees a more complicated picture and knows Mexico has real promise.

From President Nieto’s speech.

“We are a nation that is going at two different speeds. There’s a Mexico of progress and development. But there’s another, too, that lives in the past and in poverty,” he said during his inaugural address at the National Palace in Mexico City.”

Here’s to hoping for some reform and the growth of freer Mexican industry and more economic opportunity for average Mexicans.   This would be a good thing.

**The Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator.

Related On This Site: From VICE: ‘The Mexican Mormon War’…Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’

From VICE: ‘The Mexican Mormon War’

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VICE takes a hipster, counter-culture view on things, but this is an interesting and raw video piece on the Mormons who fled to Northern Mexico mostly in the 1880’s, the colonies they settled there mostly for reasons of polygamy, and are now defending against increasing drug violence and ruthless narco-traffickers.   It’s a glimpse of life inside Mexico, the Mexican Federal government’s role in patrolling a main drug highway into America, the poverty and danger, rational incentives and endemic police corruption over the border.  American laws, public policy and money have a lot to do with what goes on in Mexico.

The drug gangs are pretty much ruthless.  Gun prohibition in Mexico prevents the Mormons from protecting themselves (so the criminals have all the guns), but they have found ways around that.

Addition: What, if any, moral obligation does America have to Mexico to help it get its house, economy, police force and federal government out of the depths of corruption and weakness now that there’s new leadership?  Will a wall work?  Do we listen to the border state Republicanism guest program paths to citizenship?

What’s politically possible with the current administration in office, and the California style movement of the Democratic party towards another amnesty and the DREAM act?

Related On This Site:  Via Youtube Via Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘VICE Guide To Karachi’Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’

Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’

Full piece here.

Fukuyama provides a good overview:

The reason that Mexico has such a big problem with narco-traffickers, aside from the existence of a huge market for drugs to the north, is the weakness of certain basic Mexican institutions, and particularly its judicial system. Mexico like the United States is a federal state, and responsibility for dealing with drug trafficking is split between federal, state, and local jurisdictions. During the years when the dominant PRI was in power, many state governors and local officials came to have cozy relationships with drug lords. Mexican police are infamous for their corruption and the degree to which they have been penetrated by drug gangs.’

Mexico is no Afghanistan, and as he points out, the rhetoric is a little overblown.  Yet, structural dysfunction can’t keep corruption at bay in the face of criminal/drug activities based on foreign demand (our supply line is their backyard).  While not failed, Mexico is failing in many important ways.

Why does America need a stronger Mexican State?:

‘It will be impossible to deal with Mexico on immigration or any other problem if its government can’t govern, is pervaded by corruption, or is unable to enforce the law in border areas .’

Point taken.

Also, people in America buy a lot of illegal drugs:

‘All of this suggests that without greater demand-side efforts, the United States will never make a serious dent in the drug trafficking problem.’

I’ve always thought that no matter how recreational the drug, potency, and use, there’s moral obligation on the part of the buyer/user.  Now, how that translates into public policy, and how people actually behave, is quite another matter.

He finishes with:

‘There are downsides of increased security cooperation with Mexico as well. Perhaps the most important is the danger that it poses to our own judicial system. The amount of money available to Mexican drug gangs is so enormous that greater involvement by US police and courts will ultimately lead to the danger of the corruption of American institutions.’

Mexican drug gang activity can, and does, spread like a cancer, and the ruthlessness, violence, and murderous tactics of the gangs lines up with the natural incentives of a criminal enterprise (there’s occasionally honor among thieves, but it’s rare enough to surpass the basest motivations for money and power, which are built-in).

I don’t think it’s impractically moral to expect the individual to choose not to use drugs, for various reasons, as this contributes to the social/moral fabric that maintains our institutions.   I do recognize that policy-wise it can lead to a lot of  Federal involvement, like the War on Drugs, with questionable results and unintended consequences.  So, it’s really up for debate.

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On a side note, in Fukuyama’s previous post, he writes:

‘As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve come to realize that the emphasis put on public policy is mistaken, and that what we should be focusing on and teaching is basic public administration.’

Well, that could have practical advantages, but it seems pretty Statist.  He goes on:

‘But anyone who has spent time in government realizes that the real questions that preoccupy officials have to do with implementation, or rather, the impossibility of implementing many desirable policies because of the huge number of constraints under which modern governments work.’

Well, isn’t that the main purpose of the separation of powers?  Everyone in a position of power naturally wants an easier way to achieving their aims and consolidating that power (even if they a see a better way to solve a problem or a better way to approach a solution).  Clearly, in a bi-partisan, politically polarized environment, it’s good to try and get people on the same page, but at what cost to liberty on this view?  Even if you’re an expansive, deep, and practical thinker, like Fukuyama, the map you’ve made may not always line up with the terrain.

He could be following some of those Hegelian roots toward Absolute Spirit, via Kojeve:

‘Fixing the public sector therefore has got to be a top priority for anyone interested in public policy. In countries where public services work relatively efficiently, like those in Scandinavia, people are willing to tolerate high tax levels because they think they’re getting something back. In the US, however, as in Latin America, many people object to higher taxes because they are convinced that the government will simply waste their money.’

It also seems like he’s trying to stay on top of current events.   If we’re on the liberty/statist continuum, I generally err toward more liberty, and putting more checks on competing groups and grand visions.

Related On This Site:   Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin? Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’……From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

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From The DOD Website: ‘National Guard to Deploy Troops to Mexican Border’

Full piece here.

“The citizen-soldiers and -airmen will serve alongside federal agents for one year as an augmentation force. The troops will work to prevent illegal immigration and drug trafficking north of the border, as well as to counter weapons and cash smuggling going south, Alan Bersin, CBP commissioner, said today at a Pentagon news conference.”

Perhaps not too big of a deal, for now.

I would point out that there are rational safety and economic reasons that people join the drug gangs:  they can have protection (for a while) and they can make money (even, and perhaps for some, especially if, it’s dirty).  Greed and fear, the survival instinct, murder, cunning and the naked desire for power rule in daily operation.

What is our national interest in helping Mexico develop a better educational system…a stronger economy…a more representative government with more equality of opportunity with the resources they already have?

How should, and would we even pursue such goals (keeping in mind how our ideas motivate us by using military force and soft power in other parts of the world, by using international institutions and alone, by using direct diplomacy or not)?

We have a long, shared border, and thousands upon thousands of daily interactions near and across it.  Obama’s too far left on this for me, and I don’t like the poitics of it.  I have little faith in immigration reform as he’s (kind of, and for many political reasons) proposing.

Related On This Site:  Repost-Immigration: Will A Wall Work? From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power” Reno Man Takes Down Mexican Flag With Army Knife

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Repost-Immigration: Will A Wall Work?

Originally posted 07/21/07:

Clearly, Mexico does not have the political will to examine why so many of its citizens come here to work.   Mexico has corruption, lack of education, and an enormous wealth disparity to deal with, among other things.  They’re getting angry at us for not solving their problems to their satisfaction.

A wall could work as a deterrent, but personally, I don’t think think it’s the most effective long term solution.  People climb around walls, or under them, or tear them down.  Walls can get covered in resentment, graffiti and wasted dollars.  I think it’s more of a way for some politicians to release the steam of their constituents at the moment.

Here’s a recent wall proposal:

  • from 10 miles west of the Tecate, California, port of entry to 10 miles east of the Tecate, California, port of entry;
  • from 10 miles west of the Calexico, California, port of entry to 5 miles east of the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry;
  • from 5 miles west of the Columbus, New Mexico, port of entry to 10 miles east of El Paso, Texas;
  • from 5 miles northwest of the Del Rio, Texas, port of entry to 5 miles southeast of the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry; and
  • 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry.
  • Estimated cost: at least $2.1 billion dollars

    Here’s some Robert Frost.

    It’s a long, difficult border to police, and if you’re worried about cost after the virtual fence project (boondoggle?), the minutemen have their own proposal.

    Addition:

    1.  Perhaps we’re still suffering from the logic of excessive relativism and multiculturalism, the closest some elements of the left can get back to reasonable nationalism (at the moment, anyways), and enforcing the laws that illegal immigrant are breaking…is not close enough for my taste (or at least the other side…those who would take the law into their own hands and in their own mission statements).  We’re losing our middle ground, and the more effective solutions that come with it.

    This would not merely a problem of the left, of course…and that is if this is a proper analysis.

    2.  Sadly, this is politics, and once we leave it to the politicans, it will be used accordingly…from where I sit (generally center right, and libertarian) I expect Obama will use the broad middle ground election appeal (still!) but then end up having to fire up the base on immigration too.  Such is politics.  I would not likely be happy with the result.

    I’ll leave the rest of the debate to those most directly affected who live with these issues every day (jobs, crime, safety, taxes, local government) and people who know more than I do (too many to count).

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