Austin Bay

Any direct comparison between Mexico and Pakistan is a huge stretch. Pakistan is failing, and it isn't clear that the central government has the power or political will to address fundamental ethnic, economic, demographic and ideological challenges. Mexico is a threatened state, but the country has political will to confront the threats posed by violent drug cartels and its own legacy of corrupt politics. President Felipe Calderon made that quite evident when he launched The Cartel War in December 2006. Even accounting for Chiapas (Maya land) and numerous wannabe separatists, Mexico also has money, education and a comparative political-social coherence the entirety of South and Central Asia should envy.

Gen. (retired) Barry McCaffrey's recent report to the West Point social sciences department on Mexico (memo dated Dec. 29, 2008) praises the Mexican government's will to act decisively and provides sound advice to U.S. policymakers: "Now is the time during the opening months of a new U.S. administration to jointly commit to a fully resourced major partnership as political equals of the Mexican government Specifically, we must support the government of Mexico's efforts to confront the ultra violent drug cartels. We must do so in ways that are acceptable to the Mexican polity and that take into account Mexican sensitivities to sovereignty. The U.S. government cannot impose a solution. The political will is present in Mexico to make the tough decisions that are required to confront a severe menace to the rule of law and the authority of the Mexican state."

McCaffrey's report also noted: "President Calderon has committed his government to the "Limpiemos Mexico" campaign to "clean up Mexico." This is not rhetoric. They have energized their departments of social development, public education and health to be integral parts of this campaign. Finally, there is a clear understanding that this is an eight-year campaign -- not a short-term surge."

The Mexican people are fighting a war for modernity -- it is a long war, but it is a war they are winning.


Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
 
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