Enjoy the fun and satisfaction of “connecting the dots”? Maybe as you find your location via GPS? Or how about—economically and politically–connecting the dots between Fact I and Fact II?
Fact I, a friendly, eager-to-improve Mexico as our neighbor. Fact II, a U.S. in need of energy, resources and workers. Voilá! Dots connected! A beneficial result for both great countries.
What can spoil this reality? See the Rio Grande Guardian with Congressman Henry Cuellar’s remarks (10 Nov 17): “Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric is badly hurting investment and tourism in U.S. coming from Mexico.” Those are negative dots we don’t care to see. What reasonable man or woman can join in the disrespectful rhetoric? Will he stop? Probably not. Will he be stopped? Remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, good dots, good connections proceed apace. According to The Mexico Institute (Christopher Wilson, “Understanding U.S.-Mexico Economic Ties,” 26 Sep 16), “the U.S. and Mexico no longer simply sell finished products to one another;” instead, Mexico and the U.S. BUILD things together. These phenomena use a regional system of manufacturing production. The supply chains inter-link and “criss-cross the U.S.-Mexico border.” We are their first trading partner. They are our second leading trading partner. The dots become clearer.
Other reputable sources (yes, facts and sources do matter) join in: according to the George W. Bush Institute, “economic isolationism is not the path to ‘winning’.” (Michael Camuñez, et. al., “Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Need Each Other,” Spring 2016). A co-author, Dr. Roberto Salinas-León, cites the progress in San Diego/Tijuana, busiest port in the nation. There, the addition of a “sky-bridge” cuts border crossings to three minutes. The Texas Valley simply has to “connect the dots,” become aware of those advantages, and make demands on Washington for more assistance, more technology, more infrastructure, more innovation.
In the northern Mexico/southern U.S. area, Energia Sierra Juarez wind farm, a facility in La Rumorosa, Baja, Mexico, sells its entire output to San Diego Gas and Electric. Recruits and employees from both sides get training; commerce increases, infrastructure and jobs grow. So, should we heed Donald Trump and mess with robust border growth? Fareed Zakaria warns of such meddling in his “Global Briefing” (9 Nov 17). He quotes Shannon O’Neil, Bloomberg View: “Mexico, one of the US’s largest trading partners, supports over $600 billion dollars-worth of U.S.-based jobs, helping communities on both sides.”
It is fairly-well known that the U.S. is now “home of the largest international diaspora,” and (yes, yet another connection) home to over 37 million Mexican Americans. “The two nations’ energy refineries, pipelines and grids are interwoven.” Each nation shares information and intelligence to protect each from terrorism. Why mess up a partnership that is working? Improve it; don’t destroy it. Why deny or “disappear” those very helpful dots? Why ignore the coming Mexican elections? (Alerts have been posted by this author in several articles over the past few months in this publication.)
Namely, in July 2018, Zakaria notes not only a new Mexican President will be elected (possibly a socialist), but over 3,000 public officials, “the biggest turn-over in history” will take their places. So, will Mexico remain pragmatic, a “good neighbor?” Or will Trump’s rhetoric wipe out the gains made, goading Mexico to become more inward-looking (or, more likely, to take their business elsewhere)?
We must look to the future. We must focus on the positive “dots” currently existing and ask ourselves “what constitutes responsible international behavior for Washington?” at this point in time (Richard Haass, “Rebooting American Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2017). Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, suggests these “dots”:
- Focus on “interests” and “ideals.” (and skip harmful rhetoric or cozy relations with “friendly tyrants.”)
- Continue support for international aid and development. That policy is cost-effective. He cites Colombia, formerly ridden by civil war and drug smuggling. After U.S. aid and training, it is now much more stable and helpful to the US.
- Finally, Haass suggests “immigration should be a practical not a political issue.” Its dangers have been exaggerated, thanks to Trump. Immigration is “not a major security threat.” On the contrary, most major economists know the need for and positive benefits of immigration. The carry-away should be “the U.S. government should cease gratuitously insulting Mexico and our southern neighbors.”
I would add, the administration should fill the vast number of unfilled diplomatic offices in our government, focusing as much as possible on the need for trained, bi-lingual specialists in Mexico and Latin America. Focus on these “dots,” rather than on dangerous insults to neighbors we need during these difficult times. Or, to be Biblical about it, “cast thy bread upon the waters” (“Ecclesiastes”). Your wise, good investments will come back to you many times improved. Use the existing dots and connections. Create others. Watch and savor the positive results.