Thursday, February 24, 2011

Calderon interview

A few comments about Calderon's interview with El Universal the other day, in which he condemns the US and says "institutional cooperation" has been "notoriously insufficient." He also lambastes US Ambassador Carlos Pascual.

As a member of the press, I'm all for spilling your guts when there's good reason. But in this instance, I don't get it. Why is Calderon pulling a Nicolas Anelka?

I believe in institutions, and I certainly believe in diplomacy. If Calderon has a problem with Pascual, and the content of the leaked cables, why stoop to the level of a leaker yourself? Why not approach the diplomat, uh, diplomatically, and tell him you take issue with what he has supposedly said/written? Surely that would be the presidential thing to do? And then resolve the issues?

The Calderon administration has failed, since Day One, to communicate its message of the drug war to the people, and now it risks relations with the US (they won't fall apart, of course, but there's a good chance trust will erode between the agencies who are actually working together). There will no doubt be some very annoyed people in Washington and at the US Embassy right now.

There is the off-chance that Calderon was playing up the anti-American stuff to resonate well with an electorate he needs to win over, as the nationalism card always works nicely. But I hope not, because I have seen little sign in Mexico that people are genuinely against US cooperation on the drug war; they just want the violence to stop. The fact that US military advisers are on the ground to train their Sedena counterparts hasn't even raised much of a stink.

Speaking of:
On his blog yesterday, Admiral James A. Winnefeld, head of Northcom – which in turn heads the military advising team – wrote the following:

"Yesterday, the Mexican Army (known as SEDENA) conducted a quite impressive and highly successful operation to arrest some of the suspected perpetrators of this crime (the killing of ICE agent Jaime Zapata). This operation is yet another testament to the courage and skill of SEDENA and is typical of all our partners in the Mexican military and security services. On behalf of USNORTHCOM, I simply want to express my personal appreciation for the determined, rapid, and capable response to the murder of Agent Zapata."

I'm not a huge fan of the overblown cheerleading you sometimes hear from US officials (see ganchoblog for his latest on the Justice Dept.'s 'mission accomplished' talk) but this comment from Winnefield is amazingly positive when contrasted with Calderon's comments. And it is just the thing I'd like to see more of, given that US-Mexico cooperation in this drug war is without a doubt at an all-time high. Perhaps realistic, positive talk can drown out the fearmongers, cheerleaders, whiners and doomsayers.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Malcolm,

    You might be right there. As we say in Dutch: 'A cat driven into a corner makes weird jumps.' Calderon seems a bit lost as to how to communicate his law-enforcement policies to the electorate. Positive remarks about nabbed capos or lower numbers of violence since November don't seem to have the desired effect on public opinion. Maybe that's why he's playing the anti-gringo card: if praising yourself doesn't help, just blame somebody else.