posted by William Chodkowski on November 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm
At ASP’s event commemorating the release of its American Competitiveness Report this morning, speakers professed the need for policymakers to interpret national security holistically – to reach beyond traditional state security to long-term issues like economic vitality. America’s traditional insulation stems from its geographic position, surrounded by two vast oceans and flanked by friendly neighbors. But globalization erodes those historical barriers and lends even greater weight to efforts to foster economic cooperation and investment.
A recent Wall Street Journal article outlines the stated commitment of the incoming Mexican administration of Enrique Peña Nieto to engage the second-term Obama administration in improving the bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States for mutual economic benefit. Mr. Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was elected on a platform of encouraging economic growth through reform designed to encourage foreign investment.
Whereas the previous Calderon administration’s legacy was marred by the instability caused by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) responsible for approximately 65,000 deaths over the past six years, the PRI hopes to address cartel-inspired corruption and violence through economic improvement. This presents an opportunity for Washington to indirectly address controversial issues – immigration policy and drug policy – through cooperation designed to bolster economic growth, trade, and investment.
The U.S. ability to control the supply and demand of narcotics flowing into the country from Mexico through enforcement measures is highly limited, especially in an effort to uphold a conjugal relationship with the sovereign Mexican state. Nonetheless, strengthened public and private sector ties to the Mexican economy can help build the societal institutions which will delegitimize cartel control: rule-of-law, education, and productive economic activity. The political framework exists in Mexico’s stable federal democracy, and the economic framework for improvement through trade and investment was established with NAFTA in the 1990s.
While spillover of cartel violence across America’s borders has been limited thus far, the PRI’s pledge to work together with their counterparts in Washington should be pursued in the spirit of holistic security. A stable and prosperous southern neighbor in Mexico is preferable to American policymakers for a range of reasons. The convergence of two new administrations provides an opportunity for bilateral cooperation that should not be squandered.