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Just a spark

10 November 2010

Mary Beth Sheridan’s “Military broadens U.S. push to help Mexico battle drug cartels” (Washington Post, 10 November 2010) brought out a not unexpected reaction from Bloggings by Boz (the inside the beltway — inside the Pentagon) guy:

In any conversation about US military aid to Mexico, someone will immediately remark about how the Mexican public will oppose military aid because of the historical tensions. It’s a mandatory line in any article about this issue. This leads to three possible conclusions:

1. Don’t do it.
2. Do it, defend the policy publicly and accept the criticism.
3. Do it and don’t talk about it.

I know lots of commentators who believe the first option.

I happen to be a supporter of the second option, believing that military aid is important but an abundance of transparency should come with that aid, even if it means facing criticism.

Boz is very trusting (when has the U.S. military EVER, in any time, been “transparent”)  given that even he sees the history of this most recent intervention as less than “transparent”:

…[I]t shouldn’t take a reporter pushing to get an off the record comment by a high level official and no comment from the four star admiral in charge. I remember going through this same lack of transparency and debate when the Merida Initiative was first being developed four years ago. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. Both the US and Mexican public deserve more transparency and a more pro-active explanation and defense of government policy in this area.

Well, at least Boz recognizes “historical tensions” (note the plural).  I’m really sad that Ganchoblog assesses probable Mexican reaction based on a narrow reading of one incident in Mexican history:

I know people in the States assume Mexicans are permanently scarred by the Mexican War and therefore extremely distrustful of all things having to do with the US, especially its government. The Mexican War and the loss of territory certainly plays a big role in kids’ history lessons growing up, and there’s an element of lingering fear, but Mexicans increasingly have first-hand knowledge of the US that weighs much more heavily than events that they know only from classes.

Gancho has read Mexican history  — or should, even if it’s only my book.  There’s been a heck of a lot of foreign intervening going on since 1521, and the Mexican psyche has the scars to show for it.   And, as it is, the 1846-48 intervention is only a very small unit in history courses, and  I know people who never finished their formal schooling who refer to people from the United States not as “gringos” but as “invasores”.

Mexicans do, however, have a “first hand knowledge of the US” … they hear the racist rhetoric that spews on the airwaves, they read about the xenophobia and the out-of-control narcotics addiction rate, and the random violence associated with it, and the the  pathetic attempts at preventing arms smuggling to Mexico.  And they aren’t automatically admirers of the “American way of life”… or of militarism in any form.  Mexicans know about the Vietnam War (apparently better than Boz… does he expect “advisors” won’t be seen as targets by “enemy forces” in an asymetrical “war”… or that the U.S. military won’t think in terms of warfare and enemies?), the Cuban Revolution, the coup in Honduras, and a lot of other things.

Maybe it is only the opinion makers who “make political hay” about these things, but it doesn’t even take an important opinion maker to set off a spark.  Who ever heard of the guys who set off Timmy McVeigh?  An upheaval doesn’t require moving the masses… just a critical mass… Hidalgo, preaching to his rural parish, Ruben Jaramilla‘s farmers revolt in 1950s Morelos, or Madre Conchita‘s prayer meetings in 1920s Mexico City.

In Mexico, with what Boz calls “our democratic neighbors in the hemisphere” there is less and less support for the present administration (which a sizable number of people never have accepted as legitimate) and growing resistance to the proxy war now.  Many have given up on a “democracy” that looks more and more like a military dictatorship in mufti.  Bring in foreign “advisors” or “trainers” or whatever you want to call them, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going to happen.  Just a resentment and a home-made rocket launcher.

I just hope it’s not some young gringo tourist who becomes the “collateral damage” that turns this farce into tragedy.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    11 November 2010 12:10 am

    It’s already a tragedy I think. How’s the Franken-volvo?


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