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Trump and Latin America

Puzzle Map Latin AmericaIt is hardly an original observation that President Trump did not come into office as a front-runner for “Most Popular POTUS in Latin America.” However, as I was preparing for a seminar on US-Latin American relations it struck me as to how historically anomalous this administration is vis-à-vis the region.  Most presidents for roughly a century have approached Latin America in one of two ways:  by explicitly criticizing the previous administration’s treatment of the region/promising to do better during the campaign/early in the administration (see, e.g., FDR, JFK, Carter, George W. Bush) or basically ignoring the region in the campaign (e.g., Eisenhower, Nixon, Obama).  And there have been a number of presidents well-received in the region in terms of outreach, such as the aforementioned FDR and JFK, as well as George H.W. Bush.  Of course, all of these assessments are broad-brushed and would require significant further discussion and several caveats are needed.  I will further note that Latin America is rarely a major topic in a campaign, although relations with Mexico often do figure prominently. If anything, given the significance of the US in the hemisphere, every president has been consequential to the region (except, perhaps, Ford) whether they set out to be or not.

On balance, the following rhetorical pattern was not unusual:  criticize the old administration, promise change, and then get distracted by the rest of the world.

For example, here is the previous Republican President, George W. Bush, from the 2000 campaign:

Charging that the Clinton administration had neglected Latin America, Gov. George W. Bush pledged today to put those countries at the center of his foreign policy agenda and outlined a way of thinking about the region that placed it on a par with American interests in Europe and Asia.

 Mr. Bush’s remarks, at Florida International University in Miami — a site chosen by his campaign for its cultural, ethnic and immigrant links to Latin America — were part of an indictment of the administration, which he said had pursued an aimless strategy in Latin America of ”summits without substance.”

From there, President Bush’s first foreign trip:

US President George W Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox have promised greater cooperation in trade, dealing with illegal drugs, and immigration.

[…]

Mr Bush, visiting Mexico on the first foreign trip of his presidency, said the two countries were “bound together by ties of history, family, values, commerce and culture.”

But then, 9/11 happened.   (Indeed, Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Latin American when the attacks occurred).

Via the DMN:  Once solid, the George W. Bush-Vicente Fox partnership faded after 9/11

Via CNN:  After 9/11, U.S. left Latin America at the altar

Via the NYT:  Latin Allies of the U.S.: Docile and Reliable No Longer

Mr. Bush, who speaks Spanish and grew familiar with Latin American issues during his tenure as Texas governor, came into office promising to improve relations with the countries of the region. He began his presidency by emphasizing his friendship with Mr. Fox. Since Sept. 11, 2001, however, Mr. Bush’s attention has been focused on other regions. One expert described the president’s visit to Monterrey, Mexico, the site of the next week’s meeting, as ”a second coming out” in the neighborhood.

Latin American leaders say they are newly pragmatic in their relations with the United States. They are also unafraid to challenge Washington, even in the face of considerable pressure.

The most pointed example of such independence was the refusal of most Latin American nations to support the American-led war in Iraq. In the United Nations Security Council, Chile and Mexico opposed a resolution authorizing force in Iraq, and only 7 out of 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations supported military action.

To touch on some of the policy activity of that administration:  Bush did fail, on the domestic level, to get immigration reform through Congress.  His administration did continue to work closely with partners in the region on counter-narcotics (indeed, expanding the drug war in Colombia under the umbrella of the “War on Terror”).  In terms of trade, CAFTA-DR was negotiated and passed and the free trade agreement with Panama enacted right before he left office.  His administration also completed principle negotiations with Peru and Colombia (but those would not be completed until the Obama administration).

Trump, however, neither promised positive attention to the region, nor did he ignore it.  Instead, who can forget this from the announcement of his candidacy?

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.

So, a big middle finger to our neighbors to the south, as well as an accusation that it was conscious policy on the part of Mexico to send drugs, crime, and rape.

He even generalized to the region:

It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East.

During the campaign he later added the phrase “bad hombres” to the political lexicon.  All of which was part of one of his major campaign promises:  the construction of a wall on the southern border (that, of course, Mexico would pay for).

In office he has promoted harsher enforcement of immigration rules, continued to promise a wall, is threatening to suspend DACA, and wants to renegotiate NAFTA.

Here are two tweets from just this week regarding policy on Mexico:

Not exactly trying to make friends to the south.

In regards to the rest of the hemisphere, the president isn’t exactly winning plaudits, either. For example, he inexplicably said the following about the burgeoning crisis in Venezuela (via the NYT):  Trump Alarms Venezuela With Talk of a ‘Military Option’

“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary,” Mr. Trump said.

Not only is this, as I said at the time, nonsensical, it is exactly the kind of statement that would garner a very negative reaction in the region.  For example, the reaction by Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, arguably the US’ strongest ally in the region, sums up the situation:

Santos said no Latin America country would accept any form of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela and that it should never even be considered. Recalling more than a century of U.S. military action throughout Latin America, Santos said no Latin leader wants “that phantom” to reappear.

Indeed, any hint of intervention is a great way to cause concern, if not anger, in entire region, given the history of almost the entire history of US-LA relations.

As such, Vice President Pence’s speech in Panama during his recent trip is worth noting.  In that speech he made an odd choice in term of presidential comparisons (emphasis mine):

And in President Donald Trump, I think the United States once again has a President whose vision, energy, and can-do spirit is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt.  Think about it.  Then, as now, we have a builder of boundless optimism, who seeks to usher in a new era of shared prosperity all across this new world.  Then, as now, we have a leader who sees things not just as they are, but for what they could be.  And then, as now, we have a President who understands, in his words, “A nation is only living as long as it is striving.”

And just as President Roosevelt exhorted his fellow Americans to “dare to be great,” President Donald Trump has dared our nation to make America great again, and we’ll do it with all of our friends in the world.

Theodore Roosevelt is not exactly well-loved in the region and was known as a major proponent of intervention.  Indeed, TR is know for adding the “Roosevelt Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine (emphasis mine):

Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.

This was a clear, public justification for US intervention into the internal affairs of Latin American states by the US.  And, indeed, the US was on the front end of a multi-decade period of intervening, which had included helping to engineer Panamanian independence from Colombia so the US could build the canal (which it would essentially annex for almost a century).

As such, having Trump talk about military options in Venezuela and then have Pence compare Trump to Roosevelt is not going to go over well in region.

Additionally, Pence made a common rhetorical mistake:  his exhortation about Roosevelt used the terms “Americans” and “America” in a self-referential, possessive sense to refer to just the US.  This rankles many Latin Americans who live in North America, Central America, and South America.  If Pence was going to drop MAGA in Panama, his speech writers probably should have at least talked about making the Americas great again.  The exclusive claiming of “America” (which yes, is part our name, but not exclusively so) is rhetorically problematic in context, especially, again, when citing Teddy Roosevelt as a model for US greatness.

To sum up:  Trump started his candidacy utterly deriding a key Latin American partner, as well as tossing the entire region under the proverbial bus.  At least two of his signature issues (the wall and NAFTA) represent double middle fingers to Mexico, and he is using rhetoric and posturing in a way to evoke American intervention in the region.  And he isn’t even a full year into term.

I will grant, the likelihood of actual military intervention is low (hopefully nonexistent), and since Trump is unlikely to encourage coups in the region (à la Nixon) or fund civil wars (à la Reagan) he won’t go down as the least popular US president in the region, but he is doing nothing to actually enhance US-LA relations, indeed, he is actively undermining them.

Still, the point here is to note the significant deviation from the norm that Trump presents in terms of policy direction and global understanding.  Further, he entered his campaign, and office, with unnecessary, active belligerence regarding our hemispheric neighbors.  Latin America, collectively, is hugely important as a trading partner, as a source of energy (check out the top source of oil imports here), and in regards to key policy issues such as illicit narcotics and immigration. A productive relationship with the region is in the interest of the United States.

I suppose the good news is that Trump is usually more talk than action.  Plus, he doesn’t actually know how to execute his proposals (see, e.g., Mexico paying for the wall).  Damage, however, will be done in regards to trade (potentially in a huge way, if FTAs are abrogated)–which could actually make the immigration situation more complex if Mexico’s economy is negatively effected.

 

 

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Hal_10000 says:

    The contrast between Bush II and Trump is revealing. Bush was frequently incompetent, made some terrible decisions and often trusted the wrong people. But he took the job of President seriously. And there were some good things he did (PEPFAR, for example, has done Nobel-Prize level good in Africa). Trump doesn’t take this seriously. It’s all anger, resentment and rage-tweeting. We can’t thrive under this; all we can do is survive it.

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  2. John430 says:

    Much of this article is like peering through Alice’s looking glass. Mostly jabberwocky. We invaded Panama in 1989 to get Noriega. Venezuela is on it’s way to a murderous disaster and we will likely be asked to “help” by the OAS.

    Mexico, for sure is a failed state and much of Central America is too.Their major export seems to be poor people. The best hope for Mexico is to dissolve itself and ask the United Nations to administer it.

    Failing that, we have to start demanding accountability from these south-of-the-border nations. Why do we have to take the rap for their poor government? We didn’t ask them to hand over the reins to drug cartels and then corrupt the judicial and police system. Yes, we are the market for their drugs but a militarized border is starting to look good to my fellow Texans.

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  3. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    I’m seeing lots of reports in both the mainstream media and in social media of Brazilians being detained by the Immigration while traveling to the United States. That’s going to be another issue.

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  4. @John430: With all due respect, your views are simplistic and uninformed. I suspect you haven’t spent almost 30 years studying the region.

    We invaded Panama in 1989 to get Noriega.

    True (and one of the caveats to HW Bush’s tenure).

    Mexico, for sure is a failed state and much of Central America is too.Their major export seems to be poor people. The best hope for Mexico is to dissolve itself and ask the United Nations to administer it.

    This is just utter nonsense, even fully acknowledging the massive problems in the region.

    Why do we have to take the rap for their poor government? We didn’t ask them to hand over the reins to drug cartels and then corrupt the judicial and police system.

    Well, a) this is a massive over-simplification, and b) we are THE major market for those drugs–as you note, but somehow don’t seem to grasp the implications. Beyond that, we do actually have a substantial amount of responsibility for the state of security politics in a number of these countries, especially in Central America. You might want to read up on the history of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

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  5. In other words: critique away, but how about an informed critique?

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  6. BTW, if you want to see fragility of states in context, go here.

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  7. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    I don’t get this Mexico that only exists in the right wing universe. They are a failed state that are stealing jobs from the biggest superpower in the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  8. @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Indeed. It is as if they don’t really have any clue what they are talking about.

    (Speaking of ” peering through Alice’s looking glass”).

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  9. John430 says:

    Yup, I am so ill-informed. The 2016 Human Rights Watch report denounced the Mexican military for extra-judicial killings and human rights violations. Complaints about security forces use of torture fall on deaf ears. Alleged perpetrators are virtually guaranteed impunity; only 0.5% of the more than 4,000 complaints of torture since 2006 that were reviewed by Mexico’s Attorney General have resulted in conviction.

    According to an International Institute for Strategic Studies report, released May 2017, Mexico is the second deadliest conflict zone in the world after Syria with 22,967 homicides in 2016. With 11,1855 homicide victims recorded in the first 5 months of this year, outpacing 2016.

    An earlier, 2015 Congressional Research Service report says 80,000 people have been killed in organized crime incidents since 2006. Independent analysts put the number closer to 100,000.

    Yet, Mexico’s homicide rate is not exceptional in the region, where many countries are plagued by high rates of violent crime, such as in the northern triangle countries of Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Mexico’s quick rise in killings associated with the drug war is concerning to many observers, however, as is violence in six other countries in the region: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Venezuela. According to a recent analysis, one in four murders in the world annually now occurs in these seven countries (including Mexico).

    Under Mexican Pres. Nieto’s administration, arrests and convictions are down dramatically.

    Game, set, match.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @John430: With guns made in America and paid for by drugs sold in America.

    As for “Mexico is a failed state” only a person who never came closer to Mexico than Brietbart or the Gateway Pundit would utter such an absolute inanity.

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  11. @John430: Bravo: you were able to Google some negative things about Mexico and so forth. Keep going, as you can find a lot more, and I will not seek to contradict you. Goodness know there is an extremely serious violent crime problem in Mexico and throughout Central America.

    Weirdly, having studied Colombia since the 1990s, even living there for a bit, I am familiar with the phenomenon and the governance problems that go with these topics and in these places.

    You claimed “failed state” status for Mexico, which is absurd and indicates a basic lack of understanding of both Mexico and the term failed state.

    Look: you want to have a conversation about this, I am down with that, else I wouldn’t write these things and I certainly could easily ignore the comments section and not engage. But bring more to the conversation that the equivalent of telling your doctor that he doesn’t know what he is talking about because you Googled your symptoms on your phone and found an awesome homeopathic remedy for cancer.

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  12. For comparison: Somalia is a quintessential example of a failed state, if you need a clear example.

    But again: go to the link provided above and you can see a slew of examples and metrics used to measure these things. (Assuming that you actually are interested in understanding, rather than making this into some kind of point scoring affair).

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  13. Mister Bluster says:

    But bring more to the conversation that the equivalent of telling your doctor that he doesn’t know what he is talking about because you Googled your symptoms on your phone and found an awesome homeopathic remedy for cancer.

    Priceless!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. steve says:

    Steve- Why do you bother? He just wants to score a few points. Here, let’s cherry pick a number. Maternal mortality rates in Mexico and in Texas are nearly identical. That then makes Texas a failed state. (Of course Mexico’s have been improving and in texas, where they used to be as low as the rest of the country, they have been rapidly worsening.)

    Steve

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  15. @steve: Occupational hazard: the idealistic belief that knowledge can be acquired and understanding is possible.

    And, I will confess: a growing impatience with people who don’t understand what expertise is (and that goes beyond just myself).

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  16. John430 says:

    The level of government control required to avoid being considered a failed state varies considerably amongst authorities. Furthermore, the declaration that a state has “failed” is generally controversial and I do not argue that.

    I posit that failed states can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty. Within this power vacuum, people fall victim to competing factions and crime, and sometimes the United Nations or neighboring states intervene to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

    The Fund for Peace characterizes a failed state as having the following characteristics:
    • Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
    • Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
    • Inability to provide public services
    • has little practical control over much of its territory and hence there is a non-provision of public services. When this happens, widespread corruption and criminality, the intervention of non-state actors, the appearance of refugees and the involuntary movement of populations, and sharp economic decline can occur.

    Mexico meets several of the criteria

    In the first six months of 2017,Mexican authorities nationwide recorded 12,155 homicide investigations, up 31 percent from the same period last year.

    According to their statistics on anti-drug actions, the number of miles covered in surveillance flights by the army dropped by 51 percent from 2015 to 2016 while those by the navy fell 72 percent.
    Criminal drug cases filed by prosecutors dropped from 27,870 in 2012 to 6,219 in 2016, and weapons charges dropped from 19,015 to 6,817; in both cases, the drop appeared to continue in 2017.
    There were also large decreases in the number of arrest warrants served by federal detectives, criminal cases filed, people charged with federal crimes and acres of marijuana plants eradicated.
    But heroin seizures have not increased and seizures of opium paste — the raw material from which heroin is made — dropped.

    Weapons seizures by the army, which has come under fire for rights abuses, dropped from 20,825 in 2012 to 3,593 in 2016. The number of suspects detained by soldiers also fell, by 57 percent.
    Annual “remittances” — (money sent home by nationals living abroad) — topped $69 billion in 2016. About 40 percent of the money goes to just one country — Mexico — practically all of it sent by migrants in the United States
    The ramifications could actually be greatest for the region’s poorest, most violence-prone countries. Remittances make up nearly 20 percent of GDP for Honduras and El Salvador, for instance.

    Almost $25 billion flowed last year from the pockets of Mexicans living overseas, almost all of it from the U.S. That’s even higher than what Mexico earns from its oil exports.

    Mexico is the world’s 12th largest oil exporter and a major auto manufacturer. It collected $23.2 billion from exporting oil last year.
    Against that backdrop, workers’ remittances are becoming even more vital for Mexico. They’re even higher than Mexico’s revenue from tourism and foreign investment.

    So far, I believe Mexico is still a failed state and it is being propped up. Mexican investors are sheltering many millions of dollars here in Texas’ real estate market. Just in case…

    Finally, the U.S> State Department has issued Travel Warnings to tourists and US government personnel are warned to travel only during daylight hours. Violence has since spilled over to resorts like Cabo San Lucas and Cancun. And…as a footnote: a large majority of of my Hispanic friends (mostly professionals) won’t even cross the border.

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  17. John430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Expertise has a way of coming back and biting you on the backside.
    Experts thought the world was flat.
    Manned flight was impossible.
    Ditto space flight.
    Bloodletting was to release the body’s “humors”.
    The sun revolves around the Earth.
    International Socialism was inevitable

    I have traveled Honduras, Guatemala, much of Mexico and live in South Texas, am not an expert but share what I know and have seen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  18. @John430:

    Expertise has a way of coming back and biting you on the backside.

    Indeed, this is true. This happens when persons with even more expertise comes in and demonstrate why a prevailing view is wrong.

    The Ptolemaic system wasn’t unseated because some rando looked up in the sky and declared it incorrect.

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  19. @John430: If you are going to cut and paste information, at least have the good graces to cite your sources. You plagiarized your definition of failed states.

    If your goal is to be taken seriously, I would suggest this isn’t the appropriate route.

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  20. @John430:

    I have traveled Honduras, Guatemala, much of Mexico

    The thing is: one rarely travels to actual failed states. So, this information does not bolster your case.

    and live in South Texas

    I spent much of my life in north and central Texas, as well as southern California. And therefore?

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  21. @Steven L. Taylor:

    one rarely travels to actual failed states

    Indeed, cruise ships with American senior citizens stop in Mexico.

    Weirdly, they don’t stop in Somalia.

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  22. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @John430: I realize that may sound like an odd metric, but the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City was the 22nd most visited art museum in the world in 2016, with more than 2,000,000 visitors. It had more visitors in 2016 than the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Art Institutes of Chicago, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Getty Museum in L.A.

    Similarly, the National Museum of Anthropology had over 2,000,000 visitors in 2016.

    As Steven has noted, you can certainly make critiques of Mexico’s public safety, but there is no definition of a “failed state” that allows for the relative free access for tourism that Mexico not only allows, but cultivates.

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  23. @Gromitt Gunn: Actually, I think that that is a rather elegant metric for countering the notion of failed stateness in this case.

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  24. @Steven L. Taylor: BTW, I know I risk sounding like an officious jerk, but bring Googled, plagiarized material to a discussion like this is bring a sharpened noodle to a gun fight.

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  25. reid says:

    @John430: I would wager a great deal of money that in the bigger picture, non-experts are wrong far more often than experts are. Next time you’re sick, are you going to go see some “non-expert” doctor?

    Sick of the glorification of ignorance in this country….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  26. JohnMcC says:

    Oh My God. Did VP Dense really just give a speech in Panama — to Panamanians! — advocating a reliance on Teddy Roosevelt’s Caribbean policy?

    Please tell me he didn’t.

    We are soooo screwed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. John430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Given that I am not a blog contributor, one has to write, argue and note on the fly. I credited some sources, perhaps not others.I was also late in noting that the FFP created your Fragile States Index but that it has its own critics. At the risk of being banned from this site, your parading your”expertise” does indeed make you look like an officious jerk. I maintain my POV is equally as arguable as yours.
    Was in Honduras in the late 70’s. ‘Nuf said about that.

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  28. John430 says:

    @reid: Stay awake. I was using the list as a metaphor to note that experts aren’t always correct because they just study the subject and often don’t get down to the human(i.e.-people) level.

    @Gromitt Gunn: Been to the Museum of Anthropology, loved the Tamayo Galleries, Chapultepec Park was overrun by rats in broad daylight. and had to stand in a crowded subway train where my wife noted that there were at least several different hands on her ass during a 2 station ride.

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  29. Mister Bluster says:

    At the risk of being banned from this site, your parading your”expertise” does indeed make you look like an officious jerk.

    So John430 is resorting to mockery and name calling.
    He is indeed one of Trump’s Children.

    Listening to one of Trump’s speeches, I tried to remember when I had heard this style of rhetoric before. While negative rhetoric is a stock part of modern American politics, he had created a brand that stands out in its negative magnificence. My first thought was it reminded me a great deal of the incoherent hate spewing I recall from gaming on Xbox Live. Then I realized it matched much earlier memories, that of the bullying and name calling of junior high school and earlier. I realized then that Trump’s main rhetorical style was a more polished version of that deployed by angry children.

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  30. An Interested Party says:

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of trouble in Latin America has been caused by our own country…at the moment, the horrifying effects of the “War on Drugs” that plague Mexico and other countries in the region are caused by the insatiable appetite of people in this country for illegal narcotics…meanwhile, let us not forget our history of interference in so much of Latin America for a whole host of reasons, some supposedly noble, but many of which were quite unsavory…the effects of all of that surely must still linger…

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  31. MBunge says:

    I will confess: a growing impatience with people who don’t understand what expertise is

    And Donald Freakin’ Trump is President of the United States to at least some degree because of a growing impatience with so-called “experts” who have failed so consistently for so long that they no longer know what success even looks like. This ridiculous discussion is a great example of the problem. Mr. Taylor pats himself on the back because he thinks he wins an argument over the proper definition of “failed state.” Meanwhile, the staggering awfulness in Mexico and other parts of Latin America continues to fester and even though that awfulness is almost entirely the product of people with EXPERTISE, Mr. Taylor’s chief concern is that some non-expert might screw things up.

    To put it more plainly, Donald Trump and people like Donald Trump have little to no responsibility for the long list of Latin American awfulness that Mr. Taylor acknowledges. Those who do have most of the responsibility for it, at least from the American perspective, are people like Mr. Taylor.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  32. panda says:

    @MBunge Your comment represents the kind of can do attitude that gave us the Iraq war. And it is especially idiotic because just like with Iraq, regional experts are pretty much ignored when it comes to making policy on Latin America. There are very few experts out there who auooort the war on drugs, to cite an easy example. It’s all Donald Trump and people like Donald Trump.

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  33. Kylopod says:

    @John430:

    Expertise has a way of coming back and biting you on the backside.
    Experts thought the world was flat.
    Manned flight was impossible.
    Ditto space flight.
    Bloodletting was to release the body’s “humors”.
    The sun revolves around the Earth.

    You seem to be overlooking the crucial point that it was expertise that overturned all these past opinions.

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  34. @John430:

    Given that I am not a blog contributor, one has to write, argue and note on the fly. I credited some sources, perhaps not others.

    Dude, you wrote:

    I posit that failed states can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty. Within this power vacuum, people fall victim to competing factions and crime, and sometimes the United Nations or neighboring states intervene to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

    Note the first person “I” in that sentence. If you google that paragraph the main portion of everything after “I posit that” pops like a Christmas tree.

    At the Global Policy Forum, one finds the following caption to a photo:

    Failed states can no longer perform basic functions such as education, security, or governance, usually due to fractious violence or extreme poverty. Within this power vacuum, people fall victim to competing factions and crime, and sometimes the United Nations or neighboring states intervene to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

    That is word-for-word from “your” definition of the term.

    You are engaged in an argument predicated at least in part on the question of relative expertise and actual knowledge of subject and so it is reasonable to expect you to you use your own words, or at least use quotation marks and links if the words aren’t yours, especially if you are going to assert “I maintain my POV is equally as arguable as yours.”

    You are trying to say that a) you cannot be held the same standard as the writer of the blog post, while at the same time b) asserting that you position is equivalent to that in the post.

    At the risk of being banned from this site, your parading your”expertise” does indeed make you look like an officious jerk.

    But the reason this is even at issue is because you are asserting that having an opinion and being able to cut and paste from a google search is same thing as having actual expertise.

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  35. @Steven L. Taylor: Let me quote myself from above, this time with emphasis:

    In other words: critique away, but how about an informed critique?

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  36. @Kylopod: Well, it was a metaphor, you see.

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  37. And why does all this matter? Because if we are going to choose presidents and policies on radically incorrect views of the world, the end result will not be a good one.

    We cannot fix immigration and border security policy, to name two issues, if we don’t understand what is going on in Mexico and Central America.

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  38. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And why does all this matter? Because if we are going to choose presidents and policies on radically incorrect views of the world, the end result will not be a good one.

    This is not “if” anymore. It’s done, and we are already living the abysmal results.

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  39. Matt says:

    @John430:

    Experts thought the world was flat.

    The ancient greeks new the world was round. Look up Anaxgoras, Aristotle and Pythagoras. By 5th century BC no Greek writer/philosopher disputed that the earth was round. It was well known that the earth was round for thousands of years hence Columbus and others attempting to reach India by traveling the opposite direction. The only ones invested in the earth was flat crap were the religious folks.

    Manned flight was impossible

    No idea what experts claimed this. I can’t even find any evidence of that claim. Hot air balloons and such were flying people around back in the 1700s.

    Ditto space flight.

    Another thing pulled out of your ass

    Bloodletting was to release the body’s “humors”.

    What constituted an “expert” when things like that were done is nowhere near what we would consider an expert today.

    The sun revolves around the Earth.

    The only “experts” who pushed that were religious folks and I refuse to call them experts.

    It’s interesting how all your examples of “experts” being wrong date back hundreds to thousands of years ago…

    I have traveled Honduras, Guatemala, much of Mexico and live in South Texas, am not an expert but share what I know and have seen.

    I highly doubt that as you have yet to say anything about the border of Mexico and Texas that actually resembles reality. I DO live in South Texas and if you want to discuss how things are going in Brownsville or meet me I’d gladly do so. Hell I’ll even go to McAllen if you want.

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Yeah I had the same thought. I found the concept to be quite amusing.

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  40. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of trouble in Latin America has been caused by our own country…

    Most of the problems of Latin America were created by the local elites. Sure, the War on Drugs is a huge problem, but most homicides have no correlation with drug trafficking, and many problems with drug cartels were created by poor local governance. The Military Dictatorships of the past were created by local elites, not the CIA.

    On the other hand, Wall Street, the Department of State and the US Media are too willing to support any unelected leader in Latin America that has any vague promises of reforms(Take a look at Paraguay, Honduras, Brazil in this decade or the whole continent in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s).

    Besides that, regional integration is pretty poor. The OAS makes the Arab League and the African Union to look like efficient regional bodies, and very few people in both sides of the Rio Grande noted that having countries with very high crime rates and low income is going to bring problems to the whole American Continent. The stupid idea of extraditing violent criminals to Central America created one of the worst criminal gangs of the whole Western Hemisphere, and many Americans think that building a wall in the Rio Grande will keep them safe from any kind of the problems in Mexico, Central and South America.

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  41. John430 says:

    @Matt: Actually, Corpus would be better, altho my wife has family in San Diego, TX. Have friends in Laredo, however. I live in San Antonio.

    However, you aren’t from Brownsville and environs, you phony. From the State Dept. bulletin (osac.gov) dated 2-2-17:
    There are no safe areas in Matamoros due to gunfights, grenade attacks, and kidnappings, all of which can take place anytime, anywhere. Crime and violence related to the activities of Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) are continuing concerns that directly affect the safety and security of U.S. government personnel. U.S. citizens entering or living in the Consular District remain under constant threat of abduction, robbery, or violent crime.

    From KRGV.com Ch. 5 out of Weslaco.

    BROWNSVILLE – The attorney general for Tamaulipas called the border city of Matamoros one of the three most dangerous in the Mexican state this week.
    CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to several Matamoros residents in Brownsville. Many of them said they try to live a normal life despite their constant fear.
    Silvia Villa Visencio said it’s been two and a half years since one of her six children disappeared from her home in Matamoros. She believed he was a victim of organized crime in Matamoros.
    “I don’t even drive my truck anymore… They’ll take your trucks, they’ll take your money,” she said.
    According to recently published reports, Tamaulipas’s new attorney general, Irving Barrios Mojica, admitted Matamoros is one of the three most dangerous cities in the state.

    Do they allow you to have sharp items at the state facility you’re in?

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  42. Matt says:

    @John430: I’m from a completely different state than Texas. I never said I was from Brownsville. Although I know several people with families who live there (which of course they do visit). Corpus would be easier for me to meet you (SA is too long of a drive north). We’re still cleaning up from the hurricane here (I finally got power Thursday night) but there are plenty of places were we could meet. Just not at the Selena monument ugh..

    It was amazing how little rain hit San Antonio. It was like there was a barrier over the city. The rain clouds just seemed to vanish as they rotated over.

    I do avoid the area around Matamoros but Brownsville, McAllen and such is fine.

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  43. Matt says:

    @Matt: Were you one of the commentators who used the term “Chiraq” when discussing the violence in Chicago some time ago?

    My tree debris pile as it currently stands. I still have more to move but it’s freaking hot out and I’m tired. The mosquitoes are about to take over for the evening anyway.

    https://i.imgur.com/3c2U8By.jpg

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  44. John430 says:

    @Matt: Well, if commentary and “studies” from “Experts” is what it takes to drive the point through your vacuous head, here’s a few.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101215537

    https://www.bakerinstitute.org/…/DRUG-pub-HaleTamaulipasFailedState-072611.pdf

    http://research.monm.edu/mjur/files/2012/2012-7.pdf

    https://worldview.stratfor.com/weekly/mexico_road_failed_state

    original.antiwar.com/justin/2014/10/19/is-mexico-a-failed-state

    http://www.americanthinker.com/…/actually_mexico_is_very_close_to_a_failed_state.html

    nationalinterest.org/…/watch-out-america-mexico-may-be-the-next-failed-state-12142

    https://www.quora.com/Is-Mexico-a-failed-state-November-2014

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-25774430

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  45. wr says:

    @John430: “At the risk of being banned from this site, your parading your”expertise” does indeed make you look like an officious jerk. I maintain my POV is equally as arguable as yours.”

    Yes, because Dr. Taylor has spent his entire professional life studying these things, while you are some anonymous yahoo on the internet who knows how to type words into Google, so your argument is just as good as his.

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  46. wr says:

    @MBunge: Smart people have screwed up in the past, so let’s turn everything over to the morons. At least now we understand why you’ve been a Trump supporter. I suppose you’re still hoping for a cabinet position.

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  47. wr says:

    @John430: “ell, if commentary and “studies” from “Experts” is what it takes to drive the point through your vacuous head, here’s a few.”

    I have to wonder: What is it you’re hoping to accomplish here? You’re obviously not interested in having a real conversation with Dr. Taylor. You must know you’re not going to convince anyone by making bald assertions and trying to back them up with cut and paste boilerplate. I don’t think you’re trolling in the classic sense, as you are too dull to get anyone riled up. So what’s the point? Are you coming here for some kind of validation? If so, you’re in the wrong place. Go to one of the moron rightie blogs where commenters will call you a genius for saying “libruls suck.”

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  48. @John430: So, I take it you Googled “Is Mexico a failed state” or something close and came up with your list (indeed, I get pretty much your list with that query).

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101215537

    That’s an interview from 2009 that simply asks if Mexico could become a failed state.

    https://www.bakerinstitute.org/…/DRUG-pub-HaleTamaulipasFailedState-072611.pdf

    That title is a play on the phrase “failed state” about a specific Mexican state, Tamaulipas.

    The blurb for the essay is contingent:

    As drug cartels and violence increase, many indicators point to the beginning of what could be considered failing state and local governments in the northern Mexico region.

    http://research.monm.edu/mjur/files/2012/2012-7.pdf

    This piece concludes not that Mexico is a failed state, but worries that it might be at some point:

    The cartels of Mexico have created an incredibly complex and dangerous
    system that undermines the rule of law, robs the Mexican state of its monopoly
    on the use of force, and threatens to turn Mexico into a failed state.

    https://worldview.stratfor.com/weekly/mexico_road_failed_stateoriginal.antiwar.com/justin/2014/10/19/is-mexico-a-failed-state

    http://www.americanthinker.com/…/actually_mexico_is_very_close_to_a_failed_state.html

    The “American Thinker” is a right-wing blog, not scholarly proof of anything. Note the story url says
    “Mexico is very close to a failed state.”

    nationalinterest.org/…/watch-out-america-mexico-may-be-the-next-failed-state-12142

    The link is broken, although the url says “may be the next failed state.”

    https://www.quora.com/Is-Mexico-a-failed-state-November-2014

    This is just some dude’s opinion.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-25774430

    That’s about Micoachan, a specific state in Mexico. It asks a title question “Michoacan: Mexico’s failed state?”

    In the text of the piece, however:

    Speaking to the BBC shortly before the latest crisis unfolded, the head of the federal police, Francisco Galindo Ceballos, rejected the bishop’s description of the western state as “failed”.

    “The government of Michoacan is in place. It’s stable. It’s governing. The municipal governments and the mayors are working too.

    “So I don’t share this point of view that the state has been lost.”

    Even the sources you cite here do not claim Mexico is a failed state, just that maybe it might be–that is not strong evidence for your claim.

    Really, what you have proved here is that while a lot of people like to use the phrase “failed state” in regards to Mexico, it is in a contingent kind of way.

    Except for the Quora fellow, none of your citations explicitly call Mexico a failed state (at least not that I saw).

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  49. I failed to note that the Stratfor link was broken.

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  50. Matt says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I couldn’t help but notice that too. A whole bunch of could be in the future.

    Meanwhile the “failed” state is taking major manufacturing jobs away from the world’s sole remaining superpower. Mega corporations don’t setup multi-billion dollar factories in countries that are failed states…

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  51. @John430: BTW:

    Mexico, for sure is a failed state and much of Central America is too.Their major export seems to be poor people

    From the Office of the US Trade Representative, here is what the US imports from Mexico (i.e., what they export):

    Mexico was the United States’ 2nd largest supplier of goods imports in 2016.

    U.S. goods imports from Mexico totaled $294.2 billion in 2016, down 0.8% ($2.3 billion) from 2015, but up 48.4% from 2006. U.S. imports from Mexico are up 637% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). U.S. imports from Mexico account for 13.4% of overall U.S. imports in 2015.

    The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2016 were: vehicles ($75 billion), electrical machinery ($62 billion), machinery ($51 billion), optical and medical instruments ($13 billion), and furniture and bedding ($11 billion).

    U.S. total imports of agricultural products from Mexico totaled $23 billion in 2016, our 1st largest supplier of agricultural imports. Leading categories include: fresh vegetables ($5.6 billion), other fresh fruit ($4.9 billion), wine and beer ($3.1 billion), snack foods ($2.0 billion), and processed fruit & vegetables ($1.5 billion).

    U.S. imports of services from Mexico were an estimated $23.5 billion in 2016, 7.0% ($1.5 billion) more than 2015, and 57.9% greater than 2006 levels. It was up roughly 216% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). Leading services imports from Mexico to the U.S., in 2015, were in the travel, transport, and technical and other services sectors.
    .

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