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Monday, January 16, 2012

Mitt Romney's Mexico Problem

By Joshua Hersh

Huffington Post
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at the West Palm Beach Convention Center on January 12, 2012 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

During a campaign event in Florida this week, Mitt Romney took aim at President Barack Obama's posture toward Israel.

"This president has found it pretty sensible to be critical of our friends," Romney said Thursday at a rally in Palm Beach County, the crowd filled with Jewish voters.

"He went to the United Nations and criticized Israel for building settlements," Romney went on. "He had nothing to say about Hamas' 20,000 rockets into Israel. We will stand with our friends."

But when it comes to diplomatic relations, Romney may have already picked a fight with another U.S. ally -- this one just next door.

In a campaign white paper on U.S. global leadership released last fall, Romney wrote:

"We must also contend with failed or failing states, like Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and to an alarming degree, our southern neighbor Mexico. These are states with weak governance that are wracked by poverty, disease, internal strife, refugees, drugs, and organized crime. They are or can become safe-havens for terrorists, pirates, and other kinds of criminal networks. Their problems regularly spill across borders turning internal problems into regional and even global ones."

Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan ... and Mexico?

It's not the first time the term "failed state" has been used to describe America's southern neighbor in U.S. policy circles. Toward the end of the Bush administration, several leaked government reports painted a dire picture of a Mexican federal government deeply incapable of handling the criminal and drug enterprises that continue spilling into the United States.

Experts on Mexico's government, however, say such rhetoric has been overblown.

"Not a failed state," said George Grayson, a professor of government at the College of William and Mary, and author of "Mexico: Narco Violence and a Failed State?"

"Strong institutions such as the Church, the business sector, the banking system, the armed forces, the political parties, contiguity to the U.S., and a sense of national cohesion (missing in much of the Mideast) militate against Mexico's become a failed state," Grayson said in an email. "There are some individual states such as Guerrero and Oaxaca that might be considered failures, but not the country as a whole."

Of course, given a seemingly unstoppable cross-border drug and human trafficking trade, plus skyrocketing murder rates that have taken some 35,000 lives in the past four years, there are plenty of reasons for alarm. But Romney may be risking an early diplomatic crisis by being so blunt.

Indeed, not long after the Bush administration criticisms of Mexico leaked, officials there responded with deep resentment. When the Obama administration took over, they were compelled to attempt serious damage control, quickly sending Hillary Clinton to Mexico City. A few weeks later, Obama himself visited.

That didn't inoculate the Obama administration against further diplomatic flaps, though. The president was later forced to recall his ambassador to Mexico City, after frank discussion the government's drug-war floundering surfaced in the WikiLeaks cables. (The ambassador, Carlos Pascual, was also reportedly dating the daughter of an opposition politician at the time.)

"Mr. Romney probably needs a bit more exposure to actual failed states (like Somalia, Chad, and Sudan) before making such an assertion about Mexico," David Shirk, a political science professor and expert in U.S.-Mexican relations at the University of San Diego, wrote in an email.

"No one who has ever been to a failed state believes that Mexico fits into this category," Shirk said, though he said some "isolated 'captured spaces'" in the country may be ungoverned.

Added Shirk: "It seems like Romney is trying to take a tough stance on Mexico partly as a means to distinguish himself from candidates like Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich."

A Romney spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

If Romney keeps his head down, the flap is likely to blow over, Grayson said, given his relatively good timing.

"Truth be told, the Mexicans are fixated on their July 1, 2012 presidential election," he said, "and do not give a tired rat's derriere about what Romney calls their country."


  1. I see Mitt Romney as a SNAKE.

  2. i am Mexican and Romney i agree with him on the observation and comment that Mexico has weak governance, AND it is scary to think that soon My Mexico will be in a position where only organized crime is the option for a is sad and frustrating...i do not see how the Mexican government is offended, please! just because the Mexican government turns the other way, while the nation is going to hell, does not mean that the rest of us cannot see the horrible atrocities being committed in Mexico...

  3. Mitt Romnney is in reality stupid,he just knows exactly what to say to appear to everyone else as a Genious.Who ever votes for him is the same.Hypocrites.

  4. Mitt Romney has both roots and current relatives in Chihuahua, Mexico:

  5. If that Gentleman loves Israel so much why doesn't he go live there?

  6. January 16, 2012 7:49 PM Dude please stop sucking on his balls. ( AND it is scary to think that soon My Mexico will be in a position where only organized crime is the option for a living ) Is exactly the desperation of the criminal groups that makes them more violent. If in reality they were to control Mexico they will not be hiding. Remember Pablo Escobar, he used to control a lot, but I never look at Colombia as a failed state.

    January 16, 2012 8:15 PM Mitt Romney has both roots and current relatives in Chihuahua, Mexico:

    Dude please, George W. Romney grandparents were polygamous Mormons who fled the United States with their children because of the federal government's opposition to polygamy.

    Mitt Romney's father was born in Mexico and when he was five years old his family was forced to move back to U.S because of the revolution.

    Mitt Romney's family in Chihuahua don't even like him.

  7. you know what is weird about mexico? it's home to the world's richest man, carlos slim. he's worth upwards of 50 billion. yet a man who is worth a mere billion and can't show his face in public is in many ways the most powerful man in the country. bitch about the usa all you want but wtf?
    mexico needs to create a middle class and not just be reliant on drug dealers and money sent home by migrants. it has the resources and a hard-working population. quit relying on american crack-heads and shady contractors, you can do better.

  8. Better for Mitt Romney to have a Mexico problem than for Mexico to have a Mitt Romney problem. JaJaJa I agree with the quote but can not endorse the author because he is unknown. If Mitt thougt it up himself then I will give him serious consideration.

  9. "If Romney keeps his head down, the flap is likely to blow over, Grayson said, given his relatively good timing."

    Are you f'ing kidding me? Who writes this trash? Surprised they have a job.

  10. The level of crime in Mexico has reached the tipping point where the financial interests of the elite are being threatened by increasingly negative world opinion of Mexico's security. Stories about gang violence threaten foreign investment and trade.
    My guess is that the elites that run Mexico will unleash national security forces to stop crime just enough that the negative publicity stops. Once the government declares "victory" and pulls back the military, the cycle of crime.and.negative publicity will start again.

  11. Romney is a joke, He will take his Vaseline jar with him to Izreal and bend over for the "Chosen Europeans" Talk smack about Mexico for the southern Basterd Convention crowd,
    But will inherit a government broke up to its ass.


  13. The racist republican audience Boooed Mitt Romney in the South Carolina debate when the speaker announced that Mitts' father was born in Mexico.

    That is going to be a big obsticle for Mitt Romney to persevere.....his and his father's mormon beliefs and their connections to Mexico. The racist Tea Baggers won't buy it.

  14. Mexico is not a failed state. Yet. It's very close though so I will cut Romney some slack.

  15. Coming from a family that has ties in Mexico, I don't really see Mexico as a US ally. Mexico is more like that friend that you have but don't really want to be friends with cause of past things. Thats what I view the relationship of the US and MX.


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