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Mixed Signals From Mexico By: Allan Wall
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 11, 2001

IS MEXICO our ally in this war? The mixed signals its government has been sending the past few months have not been encouraging.

President Fox did respond rapidly - on September 11 - publicly expressing his sympathy and canceling Mexican Independence celebrations scheduled for the following weekend at Mexican diplomatic installations in the United States.

Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda was more forthright, even hawkish, declaring Mexico's support and asserting that the U.S. had "every right" to retaliate. It was sounding amazingly like a genuine strategic shift in Mexican foreign policy.

This provoked a firestorm in the Mexican political world, where anything remotely resembling support for U.S. foreign policy is viewed as subservience to the gringos.

Fox himself, however, allowing Castañeda to be the lightning rod, kept a low profile on the issue, until September 25, when he offered his government's "unconditional" support to the United States in the struggle against terrorism. "Unconditional" he called it - but the word "unconditional" was surrounded by so many qualifications that it really sounded like he was hedging his bets. Fox's entire "unconditional" statement was :"Respecting our laws, respecting human rights, respecting legality, respecting the pacifist will of our country, we have committed this unconditional support, I would say, to the U.S. government, and to the governments of the world who fight against terrorism."

Not exactly a resounding show of support.

Nor was Interior Minister Santiago Creel any more encouraging. One day he pledged Mexico's solidarity with the U.S., and the very next day, just so nobody had gotten the wrong idea, Creel came out against any kind of support to the U.S. that would subordinate Mexico to the U.S. government.

And this was all before the U.S. attacked Afghanistan. After that, Castañeda declared that "Mexico is not at war with anybody."

What's going on here?

The mixed signals ,and the deliberately contradictory manner in which they are being sent, is a direct result of Mexico's contradictory foreign policy and the way its political elite regards the United States.

Since the early 1930s, Mexican foreign policy has been based on the Estrada Doctrine, the Principle of Non-Intervention, formulated by Foreign Minister Genaro Estrada. According to the Estrada Doctrine, Mexico does not allow any other country to intervene in its internal affairs, and Mexico does not interfere in other country's affairs.

In reality, the Estrada Doctrine has somewhat resembled the Prime Directive on the old Star Trek series. Remember? Captain Kirk would talk about not interfering in another planet's development, but would often wind up doing so anyway.  Although not possessing the resources and mobility of a Federation starship, Mexico has, contrary to the Estrada Doctrine, been able to carry out a little intervention also. 

Under the supposed guidance of the Estrada Doctrine, Mexico intervened in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side and decades later attempted to overthrow the Franco regime. The Mexican government supported the Sandinistas and the  FMLN in Central America, and has given aid and comfort to Fidel Castro since his exile days – in Mexico! – to the present. More recently the Mexican government has waged, and continues to wage, a successful campaign to influence and even control U.S. immigration policy and retain the loyalty of Mexicans in the United States to utilize them as an arm of Mexican foreign policy.

During the Cold War to the present day, Mexican foreign policy has slavishly followed a leftist/Third World/internationalist orientation whose real goal has always been to demonstrate its independence from the United States. The support of Fidel Castro, the anti-American voting record at the UN, the negative knee-jerk reaction to American foreign policy – it’s hard not to view it as a big show calculated to demonstrate to the world that Mexico is not subservient to the gringos and can yank on Uncle Sam's beard whenever it wants. Prominent Mexican novelist and commentator Carlos Fuente, who thinks the Fox administration 's tepid support is too much already, angrily declared that while Mexicans are the Americans' "partners," no way are they "lackeys."

Vicente Fox's highly-conditioned "unconditional" declaration of support also made reference to Mexico's "pacifism," another cherished myth. Relative to its size and population , Mexico has a small military which is not even equipped to defend the country against foreign attack. It's no accident. Post-revolutionary planners concluded that while the Mexican military could not defeat the U.S. military, the United Sates would – to protect its own interests – repulse any attack on Mexico by a third power. The tacit but real security umbrella provided by the United States is precisely what affords Mexico the luxury to portray itself – in stark contrast to its bellicose and imperialistic northern neighbor – as a pacifist and non- interventionist nation, with all the self-congratulation that entails. Once again, Mexico's right to bash the gringos is made possible by Mexican dependence on the gringos.

Don't imagine that it's all changed with Fox's arrival on the scene. The new presidente has promised to give Mexico a higher international profile, and even has some kind of proposal to solve the ongoing Korean crisis. Yet Fox has continued the leftist-internationalist orientation of Mexican foreign policy, combining it however with a globalist-big business orientation that keeps him in good stead with the Wall Street Journal. Friendship with Fidel is still a priority, and on a state visit to Chile, Fox and Castañeda made sure to visit a memorial honoring Allende. At the infamous Durban conference, Fox's representative brought the reparations movement to a new low by calling for reparations to former colonial peoples!

If the Fox administration really wanted to show its support for the U.S., it has a golden opportunity coming up, on the UN Security Council.  Mexico is set to take a seat there in 2002, after several decades of refusing to serve, calling the organism "American-dominated." It should be interesting to see how Mexico votes on the Security Council, but don't get your hopes up.  Mexico's UN representative is already talking about getting the Council's Third World members to form a voting bloc.

Certainly the Fox Administration is cooperating with the U.S. on  border security, but there's nothing surprising about that. The Fox administration is using such cooperation to help keep the U.S. border open to the mass emigration of Mexicans to the U.S.A. and eventual open borders.  Fox's National Security Adviser Adolfo Aguilar Zinser went so far as to assert that  "The war against terrorism has generated contradictory advantages that should be taken advantage of by Mexico...."  Sounds like the Fox guarding the hen house.

In the meantime, how likely is it to see the Mexican government under Fox behaving as an unambivalent strategic ally of the U.S.A.?  On the world stage, I mean, in front of Latin America, the Europeans, the UN and everybody?  Don't get your hopes up.

Allan Wall (allan39@provalue.net) recently returned to the U.S. after having resided many years in Mexico.

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