Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Post-Pascual Balance Sheet

Leo Zuckermann sees a Pyrrhic victory in Calderón's engineering the ouster of Carlos Pascual:
Surely the majority of Mexicans will celebrate, now that Calderón has gotten the head of the ambassador of the United States that had criticized our government, military, and some politicians of the governing party. Perfect. The problem is that these types of victories are not free. They are going to have a cost for the governmental relationship of Mexico and the US. Or do we think that the Americans will give Pascual's head to Calderón on the cheap?

I don't think so. Empires don't like to appear weak. They abhor a government from a peripheral nation pulling one over on them. In this logic, Americans are going to charge a hefty price to Calderón: "OK, Mr. President, we allowed Pascual to go, no it's time for you to give us..." and they present a long list. If Calderón refuses, then the typical pressures will begin, perhaps with naming an ambassador who's even tougher than Pascual. "Well, you said you wanted someone else, right?", Washington will ask.

President Calderón, like many other leaders in other latitudes, has subordinated the foreign policy of Mexico to gain popularity before the public. It's a tricky strategy because --unlike Vicente Fox and his fights with Cuba, Venezuela or Argentina-- now we are talking about confrontations with heavyweight status like France and of course the US.
I'm not sure if the US will want to punish Calderón, exactly, but I do think it's safe to say that the Obama administration won't be bending over backwards to do Calderón any favors. Then again they hadn't been doing a whole lot for Calderón in the past several years anyway, so I can see why Calderón might have thought it was worth the risk. Calderón seems to be acting pretty much as he was before, calling upon the US to crack down on arms traffic earlier today.

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