Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Conditioning, Suspending Aid
Human Rights Watch is calling for a suspension of Mérida Initiative handouts until military abuses are subject to civilian trials rather than military discipline. HRW painstakingly detailed the reasons that civilian authorities should be handling such cases here, and it's hard to argue with their logic. As long as military judges who owe their jobs to the secretary of defense are overseeing cases of abuse, cover-ups will be hard to avoid. However, I think the tactic HRW suggests is a wrong-minded. The question is whether or not a suspension of aid will make Mexico more likely to address military abuses. I don't imagine it will; instead, it will spark an outbreak of the sort of self-righteous nationalism that has thankfully been rare in recent years, at least in the realm of security. An aid suspension stemming from a foreign uproar over military abuses would actually make life harder on the would be reformers among the Mexican military and political class. American concerns would be better addressed behind closed doors.