The drug wars continue in Mexico, with over 50,000 killed since 2006. And Mexico, like the U.S., is having a presidential election this year.
In the midst of this, there’s news of a surprising Mexican poll showing significant support for U.S. intervention in Mexico: Most Mexicans Want U.S. to Take a Bigger Role in Fighting Violence, Poll Finds, by Alfredo Corchardo, Dallas Morning News, May 13, 2012, also available here.
As reported by Corchardo:
“The poll, conducted for The Dallas Morning News, its Spanish-language publication Al Día and the Mexican newspaper El Universal, found voters were not only ready to reverse course politically but also to ease up on old suspicions of their northern neighbor.”
According to the poll, 64% are in favor of the Mexican military taking the lead in fighting the drug cartels. This is what President Felipe Calderon ordered it to do—a very controversial step. But apparently Mexicans support it.
However, when you get beyond that general statement, things are not so clear.
Only 21% said that the current Mexican government strategy is working—79% either think it isn’t working or aren’t sure. That’s not a great endorsement of the Calderon administration. Calderon can’t run again because the Mexican Constitution limits presidents to one six-year term, but even his PAN party’s nominee, Josefina Vazquez Mota, looks likely to lose to the candidate of the left-center PRI, the former ruling party. This might be one of the reasons.
Interestingly, another 21% actually favor the government’s making a deal with drug cartels, to cut down the violence. This might sound shocking—but isn’t it understandable? Of course, any deal with the cartels might not be stable: factions splinter off and form new cartels.
Some 74% of Mexicans think the U.S. isn’t doing enough to keep weapons out of Mexico. Problem: the idea that the U.S. is the source of 90% of the weapons entering Mexico was debunked long ago. (Of course, some of the weapons used in Mexico are indeed from the U.S.—notably those from the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious program.)
And here’s an interesting result: According to the poll, an overwhelming. 80% are against allowing Mexican citizens to bear arms. In fact, this was the highest percentage for any answer.
Can you believe it? I guess the right to bear arms just isn’t a universal desire. Needless to say, despite the fact that there is only one legal gun store in Mexico, there are (all too obviously) weapons galore there. They’re just not legal!
We do learn something from the poll, however. If it accurately reflects the will of the Mexican people, they are more interested in the symbol of prohibition than the substance of self-defense.
Which leads us to an immigration /assimilation question: Will Mexican immigrants who become U.S. citizens be prone to support Americans’ right to bear arms? Will they be flocking to join the NRA and GOA?
It’s something to think about—especially for those who assure us that Mexicans are “natural conservatives.”
On another question, Mexicans aren’t so PC: 52% of the poll’s respondents are in favor of the death penalty—which is not currently in use in Mexico.
Now for the U.S. intervention part: A slim majority (52%) favor an expanded U.S. participation in the war on the drug cartels.
Of course, participation could mean anything from intervening directly on the ground, to training, to intelligence sharing, weapons transfers—or simply shelling out cold hard cash to the Mexican government.
But 28% of the poll’s respondents do favor U.S. drug agents and even U.S. troops (!) being deployed on Mexican soil to combat organized crime.
Once again, that’s not completely specific either: it could mean drug agents in advisory roles (which is already occurring) or deployment of actual combat units to take on the drug cartels.
Nevertheless, more than a quarter of the respondents favor some sort of U.S. intervention in the Mexican drug war.
It’s a surprise. Jorge Buendia, president of the Mexican polling firm involved in the poll, says: “Opposition to a U.S. role is not as large as one would expect.” Eric Olson of the Mexico Institute (a think tank with a “binational advisory board” at the Woodrow Wilson Center) says: “That’s a little shocking given the history between the United States and Mexico.”
After all, the history of the Mexican War of 1846-1848, which led to a U.S. invasion of Mexico and the loss of half of Mexico’s territory, has been mythologized over the past 150 years. Many Mexicans absolutely believe conspiracy theories about U.S. intervention. So how can a quarter of Mexicans polled be open to an American intervention in the cartel war?
Part of it has to be fatigue. Buendia says the 28% figure
“…tells you that Mexicans are really, really tired of this drug war, and they would rather see an end sooner than wait years fighting this by themselves. Because they see that the United States is much to blame for the problem, Mexicans are becoming that much more pragmatic and tolerant about alternatives.”
Stateside, this idea has actually been floated by Rick Perry and others. [Perry says consider military in Mexico, By Peggy Fikac, November 18, 2010]
Well, I lived in Mexico for many years, and I was deployed to Iraq as part of a Texas Army National Guard unit that contained many Mexican-Americans. My view: I would be extremely wary of putting U.S. troops in Mexico, especially in a large ground operation. It would bring all sorts of counter-productive complications, and could get us bogged down in a quagmire.
Of course, we should have some contingency plans in case there is some sort of total breakdown in Mexico. But the purpose would be to avoid a mass invasion of U.S. territory—not to reform, control or annex Mexico.
(I’ve written about these matters before: Wargaming Mexico—Will the U.S. Have to Invade?)
Rather than deploying troops into Mexico, we would be better served by deploying troops to the border. We ought to use our military to guard it and seal it off so practically nobody enters except at authorized crossings. It’s not impossible, it’s just that our current government doesn’t want to do it. (And not just the Obama administration either. The Eisenhower administration was probably the last one that was serious about border security).
Glenn Spencer of American Patrol has an interesting explanation of border security’s relationship to the Mexican drug war. Spencer says the war was triggered by the fencing off of a part of the border, but not all of it. This caused the cartels to start fighting each other over remaining access routes. See also here and here, plus video [WMV] of him explaining this to John McCain at a townhall meeting). So securing all the U.S.-Mexican border would not only protect us, but could help reduce the violence in Mexico.
Remember, nobody knows the border situation like Glenn Spencer!
Mexico’s presidential election is scheduled for July 1st. (My wife is a Mexican citizen and plans to vote in Mexico on that day). I’ve been writing about it in my Mexidata columns: see here, here and here.
On May 6th, there was a debate between the four candidates (see my debate summary here). Significantly, there was only one reference to “migrantes” by one of the candidates. That shows that Mexican politicians can discuss Mexican politics without discussing emigration.
Of course, Mexicans constantly meddle in U.S. immigration policy—as recently in the case of Arizona’s SB 1070. But they only get away with it because we let them. A U.S. administration that really got serious about controlling the border and deporting illegal aliens would elicit howls of protest from Mexico City, but in the long run Mexicans would get over it.
What’s needed is a U.S. Administration that protects our borders, our people and our culture—not by intervening in Mexico but by keeping Mexican invaders out.
In the long run, that would be beneficial to Mexico as well.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A in 2009, after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here