It’s not your father’s James Bond. It’s Russia again, but not with love.
Are you ready to extend Trump’s Russian coziness to Mexico? Ready to admit Russian interference in her upcoming (July 2018) elections? There are many who won’t even admit their meddling in the U.S. election of 2016.
National Security Adviser, Lt. General H. R. McMaster, speaking at the National Security Summit in D.C. on 19 Nov 2017, sponsored by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), revealed “Russian meddling in Mexican elections” (David Garcia/Noe Torres, “World News,” Reforma, 7 Jan 18).
McMaster is certain. The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is certain. It specified details of Russian influence in democratic elections in twenty countries, including Mexico. Sadly, Mexico may not have the technology or institutions sophisticated enough to detect or stop Russia’s reach. Their reach is international (Europe as well as Mexico) and is now quite close to home.
AMLO (Andrés Manuél López Obrador), is apparently the Russian-favored candidate for President. He rejects and jokes about the accusations: “Sí, yo soy Andrés Manuelovich” (León Krauze, “Russian Meddling,” KMEX/Univision, 19 Jan 18). Others don’t find it funny. AMLO, a three-time candidate, is currently in the lead, over PRI’s José Antonio Meade and PAN’s Ricardo Anaya. He has already chosen his cabinet. One choice, Irma Eréndia Sandoval, is the spouse of John Ackerman, contributor to Russia Today, an alleged Kremlin organ, and is registered as a “foreign agent.”
The damage and threats are deja-vu and are not over. “Seventeen U.S. intelligence and security agencies confirm Russia’s interference in U.S. 2016 presidential elections.” They predict further attempts in both countries this year and in 2020 (“Don’t Let Mexico’s Elections Become Putin’s Next Target,” Bloomberg View, 9 Nov 17). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) warns: “Countries with ineffective governmental institutions, rampant corruption and weak rule of law have a 30–45 percent increased risk of civil war” (CBS News, 31 Jan 18).
Many Mexicans might not agree with such dire predictions (civil war) but can imagine the weaknesses that allow Russian intervention in their elections. Even without this unique, 21st century foreign cyber-invasion, many Mexicans look askance at AMLO. He has promised not only to lower taxes but to stop hurricanes and earthquakes! His previous campaigns ended with him declaring himself “presidente legítimo.”
It may be that Mexico is producing its own “El Trumpo.” Certainly, if and when AMLO is victorious, his leftist positions will present multiple thorns in the side of “our” Trump. Indeed, the U.S. president’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and threats are the very ingredients that have led to López Obrador’s lead in the polls. His party (MORENA) presents itself as nationalistic, pro-masses and has gained strength. The PAN is viewed by many as too right-wing and/or ineffectual (it had its chance with Calderón and blew it). The PRI is seen, with good reason, as corrupt and responsible for so many of Mexico’s problems.
Complacency about this impending confrontation is not acceptable for the U.S. or for Mexico. We are inter-connected and each country is of vital interest to the other. Voters in the U.S. can no longer hide their eyes to the damage done here by external forces or be duped by internal forces. Mexican voters face similar danger—a possible tainted election, aided and abetted by Russia.
So, are you satisfied, Vladimir? Are Trump’s inanities inane enough for you? You have no regrets about threats to world peace or environmental quality of life? Willing to risk nuclear holocaust? Happy now, all those who dissed and discarded Secretary Clinton (many die-hard Republicans and assorted Bernie-Bros), rejecting a strong woman for president? And are you happy you were conned by Russians? Or do you still refuse to admit it?
Happy now, Comey? (Your “nausea” about tilting the election getting better?) Was there a good enough reason for revealing FBI coverage of Hillary’s emails during the campaign but not the fact that Trump was also under investigation? You three—Russia, Hillary (women?) haters, and Comey—created an existential mess. Thank you so much for Trump. Now my heart sinks as we watch something similar approaching in Mexico.
Alert and concerned Mexican citizens stand aghast at a possible political train wreck. Yet, in Mexico, there are more viable choices, at least more parties; in the U.S., only two. Minds must be made up and quickly. In neither country is it possible to entertain a “do nothing” policy. Neither can we fatalistically accept campaigns and electoral results tampered with by outside powers.
Only four months remain until Mexican presidential elections, eight months until U.S. congressional elections. How can we improve analysis and improvise plans, if the nearly inevitable cannot be avoided? Each of those elections presents an important moment of choice for each country. Where is our James Bond to save us? Or, in Mexico, where is there a Jaime Bond to help them? For, no, Russia does not love Mexico or the U.S. We must love and protect ourselves.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) giving a speech as he presents his manifesto in Mexico City, Mexico, November 20, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero)