The United States and its partners throughout the Western Hemisphere stand the best chance of securing the region against the most dangerous cartels by attacking them together. A regional security framework such as the “Mesoamerican Security Corridor,” proposed by the U.S. Department of State, offers a new opportunity to link U.S. and Colombian assistance and counternarcotics programs in Mexico to address challenges in the Central American states to Mexico’s south.At no point in the piece is institutional strengthening mentioned. At no point is the word "corruption" or any of its derivations used. There is nothing precisely wrong about the piece, but any discussion of public security in Mexico that doesn't start with stronger and more honest crime-fighting institutions is almost by definition flawed. Putting aside the wisdom of the strategy, the idea that all we need is a regional framework (or, in alternative interpretations, all we need is COIN or to copy our approach to Colombia) assumes that Mexico has the bodies capable of pursuing any strategy to its logical end. Right now, that's clearly not the case; even a beautifully designed regional strategy won't automatically address the overloaded criminal justice system, the creaky prisons, or the municipal police officers who double as assassins for the local drug bosses. I imagine that part of the problem for American analysts, especially those with a military bent, is that it's hard to sketch out a significant American role in anti-corruption programs and institution building--the improvement has to be homegrown. But I do think the improvement in Mexico lies not in grand conceptual changes but in addressing a million different details.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Lack of Attention to Institutions, Exemplified
Via Joshua Frens-String, the Center for New American Security has a new report about how to improve public security in Mexico. The gist: