For decades, some elements of the Right (occasionally abetted by people who should have known better) have peddled the notion that Mexico has created a vast and well-organized “fifth column” within the United States dedicated to La Reconquista — the re-conquest of territories seized by the U.S. during the Mexican-American War. In this scenario, non-assimilated Mexicans by the millions are stealthily enlisting in a campaign of subversion orchestrated by the Mexican government with the help of foundation-funded anti-American groups on this side of the border — and, when the time is right, this fifth column will erupt in an orgy of violence and mayhem.
Whatever revanchist sentiments may exist in Mexico are the residue of Washington’s seizure of roughly half the country through a war of aggression. Washington’s proxy narco-war, which has killed tens of thousands of people since 2006 and displaced hundreds of thousands more, has done nothing to palliate those feelings. An actual U.S. invasion might be the only thing that would turn the alarmist fantasy of a nationalistic uprising on the part of Mexicans living on the U.S. side of the border into something akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Since 2007, when the Fed’s most recent economic bubble collapsed, immigration from Mexico has tapered off dramatically. In Arizona, immigration (both legal and illegal) and violent crime have both been in decline for a decade. Yet the state’s Republican leadership, and much of its law enforcement apparatus — from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the corrupt septuagenarian headline whore, to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeau, his younger and more telegenic understudy — insist that the state is under unremitting siege. Governor Jan Brewer, who claimed that the “majority” of illegal immigrants from Mexico are “mules” in the employ of drug cartels and that illegal immigrants had committed “beheadings” in Arizona, was headed for electoral oblivion following an unpopular tax increase — until she seized on the immigration issue, which propelled her to a dramatic political recovery.
Arizona’s Republican leadership has diligently cultivated anti-immigration hysteria, and in exploiting it has managed to embrace two apparently contradictory positions: It has denounced the Obama administration for butting into state affairs by filing a federal lawsuit against SB 1070 (the “Your Papers, Please” law), while angrily demanding greater federal intervention in the form of a military presence on the border. “It’s literally out of control,” Sheriff Babeau protested in an interview with Fox News. “We stood with Senator McCain and literally demanded support for 3,000 soldiers to be deployed to Arizona to get this under control and finally secure our border with Mexico.”
Arizona’s experience illustrates that the political potency of Mexico-bashing has no logical connection to the severity of problems associated with Mexican immigration. That lesson hasn’t been lost on Texas Governor Rick Perry, an establishment Republican who has sought to cultivate a constituency among Tea Party activists. In a recent MSNBC interview, Perry upped the ante by calling for a U.S. invasion of Mexico. Of course, Perry insisted, Mexico’s government would have to “approve” of the invasion.
As if to answer the question, “What kind of Latin American political figure would `approve’ of a U.S. invasion and occupation of his country?” Colombian-born Washington Post columnist Edward Schumacher-Matos has offered a very public endorsement of the proposal. Between positions with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and his present gig at the post, Schumacher-Matos taught a course at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American studies, which is one of several academic nurseries in which the Establishment cultivates tomorrow’s Quislings.
In a tone reminiscent of a Brezhnev-era media apparatchik condemning “reactionaries” who resisted the advance of Soviet-administered enlightenment, Schumacher-Matos piously chastises Mexico’s political class for being “too proud to do what they immediately should: Call in the Marines.” Only if Mexicans somehow emerge from “their nationalistic stupor” will they see the light of reason and welcome the presence of “American military specialists stationed within [their country’s] borders to help the country build powerful electronic intelligence systems and train modern military and police forces to replace its suffocatingly hierarchical, outdated ones.”
Although Mexico “is our neighbor and supposed longtime ally, the Mexican army has never — never — participated in a joint military exercise with the U.S. military,” Schumacher-Matos points out, inviting us to sorrowful contemplation of the shame of it all. To substantiate the point, he cites a recent study by Roderic Ai Camp of the Woodrow Wilson Center, oblivious to the irony of mentioning Wilson’s name in connection with proposed U.S. military intervention in Mexico.
“What is getting in the way of deeper cooperation with the U.S. military is that the Mexican military, political and intellectual leaders, abetted by U.S. intellectuals, still have their heads in the Mexican and American wars for the 19th century and the Cold War of the 20th,” Schumacher-Matos scolds. “They talk of imperialism and hegemony — which are irrelevant today.” This isn’t “imperialism” that we’re discussing: It’s applied humanitarianism of the kind that has turned places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia into havens of peace and prosperity.
Elements of Schumacher-Matos’s prescription are a bit outdated. The “electronic intelligence systems” he describes are already operating in Mexico, huge amounts of money are being poured into training and equipping Mexican military and police, and U.S.-trained paramilitaries are actively involved in the Drug War – albeit, for the most part, on the side of the cartels. None of this is sufficient, he insists; there is no substitute for U.S. boots on the ground, even though the troops wearing them would be sent in a purely “advisory” capacity, at first, as they always are.
No hyperbole is involved in describing Mexico as another front in the Regime’s war with — well, practically everybody. This is illustrated by “The Third Front,” this evening’s installment of Oliver North’s “War Stories” agitprop series on the Fox News Channel. That title says a great deal about the assumptions of the militarist Right, which the FNC’s core demographic: Because our state of war never ends, we don’t begin a new war, we simply focus on a different “front.” Accordingly, Mexico will soon endure some more unwanted attention from the War Party, irrespective of what happens in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, or North Korea.