Sunday, October 16, 2011
More, More, More: A Meaningless Manifestation of Good Intentions
Barry McCaffrey called for a larger Mérida Initiative, pointing out that if we spend $10 billion a month in Afghanistan, we can afford to pledge more than a billion and a half over three years in Mexico. That's a fine point, but the size of the package isn't the fundamental issue. We could give Mexico 40 Apache helicopters, or even a few F-16s, and all of a sudden we'd have a much larger Mérida Initiative, but does that address Mexico's biggest problems? I certainly don't think so. The size of the package isn't the issue; and calling for a bigger Mérida is just a shortcut to saying, I want us to be more worried about Mexico. That's great, but it's what we are spending it on that is important, not how much we are spending. I'd love to spend virtually all of it on vetting programs and training and other institution building, but I'm not certain that any American-funded programs, no matter how well funded or well funded, will be the key to a safer Mexico. In other words, the force for changes will have to come from Mexico; American policy-makers often seem to forget that here is a limit to what American money alone can accomplish abroad (aside from the actual limit to American money, which is also a growing problem).