MAD… mutually assured deflection
Neither Trump nor Peña Nieto are popular presidents. Laura Carlsen speculate on Democracy Now that ratcheting up the rhetorical war between the United States and Mexico may have political benefits for both weak presidents:
LAURA CARLSEN: […] as political analysts, as people who analyze international relations, I know that we’ve had to start thinking in different ways with this Trump presidency, because there’s this psychological factor, you know, this macho, bullying personality that indicates that they’re not always rational considerations that come into play, such as provoking an international crisis with a close ally, a neighbor and the third-largest trade partner.
So, here he comes in, polls showing from 32 percent to maybe the 40s, lowest approval rating of an incoming president in recent history. What does a weak president do in that situation? He picks a fight, and especially if his name is Donald Trump and he is who he is. So, picking a fight with Mexico, though, is what is probably the bizarre factor, of course, for us who analyze this relationship, because, again, it is an ally. However, it mobilizes his base. It’s been his wedge issue since the beginning of his campaign. It increases this racist environment. And it makes him look strong.
Now, he’s also picked a fight with one of the weakest presidents in the world. President Enrique Peña Nieto has an approval rating now of 12 percent, according to some polls. So he’s between a rock and a hard place. He has his entire population saying, “You have to stand up to the United States,” and a huge opposition movement. There are people calling for his resignation in the streets of Mexico, a news item that’s—that doesn’t come out, with everything else that’s happening in the Trump administration. And then he has this necessity among the Mexican elite, his own group, really, to maintain a relationship almost at any cost with the United States. So, the situation, with all these factors coming into play, and especially the unstable actions and personality of Donald Trump thrown into the mix, has created a very uncertain environment, in which we’re already feeling the impact with the drop in the peso, and a lot of uncertainty regarding investment and other economic and political factors here in Mexico.