Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Critical Take on Calderón's Visit

John Ackerman is capable of impressive insight, and I really like what I've read of the Mexican Law Review, but too often when Mexico is enjoying a sudden burst of American media attention, he marks the occasion through an op-ed composed of a series of misleading arguments and outlandish claims, adding up to I can't quite tell what policy prescriptions, aside to an end of the war on drugs. To wit, here he is obliquely comparing Calderón to Hitler, here he is explicitly comparing him to Nixon, here he is charging Calderón with using the swine flu scare to "consolidate his power", and here he is saying that Hillary Clinton's visit to Monterrey amounted to a cold shoulder to Mexico's non-industrial titan population.

In the most recent iteration of this series, he says that Calderón popularity is in a free-fall, which is demonstrably untrue even in the poll to which he links, as he has lost three points in six months, and just 1.3 since February 2010; that "Mexico is one of the most “anti-American” countries in the world", despite the fact that just two Middle Eastern countries appeared among the 28 total nations on the list; and that the "violence in Libya pales in comparison with the thousands of civilians who have fallen in Mexico", which may be true if you are looking at the number of murders over a four-year period rather than, say, government gunships firing on crowds on the president's orders, but then, by that standard, the same negative comparison with Libya holds for the US as well. And then there's the piece's second sentence, which seems to forecast a new Mexican Revolution:
The Mexican people are getting increasingly frustrated with the failure of President Felipe Calderón to win the “drug war” and resolve their basic needs. They could soon take matters into their own hands.
So much of this is lacking in basic common sense.


malcolm said...

"They could soon take matters into their own hands."

This is the worst throwaway line I've ever read in Newsweek (and I've written my fair share.) What does this mean exactly?

Where are all my old editors?

I usually don't mind Ackerman's stuff, but this one is nonsense and has no basis in reality or fact.

pc said...

I really think he adopts a different tone in the American stuff. On the ins and outs of Mexican law, he's a totally different person: more fact-based, fewer broadsides. And overall, much better.