Commentary: The last time I checked, Mexico is not an enemy of the United States. Mexico is the 5th largest Christian nation and one of the epicenters of Catholicism in the world. Morally, religiously and theologically- not to mention politically and economically- the U.S. is more aligned with the socio-cultural norms and values of democratic Mexico than many of her other allies across the globe.
Regarding economics, according to the Office of United States Trade Representation (USTR), "U.S. goods and services with Mexico totaled an estimated $671.0 billion in 2018. Exports were $299.1 billion; imports were $371.9 billion..."
If Mexico stopped doing business with the U.S., the entire American agricultural and textile industries would collapse within weeks. To borrow a terrible expression from Roger Stone, the separation between the two countries is "thinner than piss on a rock."
So why is the president making Mexico look and act like enemies? Whose purpose does that serve?
I find it more than a little ironic that while Trump was overseas playing the role of George Patton come back from the grave, in all of his remarks about how glorious the U.S. victory at D-Day was, not once did I hear him mention the contribution of Mexico in WWII. The Aztec Eagles, a group of more than 300 volunteers, who trained in the United States to fight Imperial Japan, was the first Mexican military unit trained for combat. I wonder if the president knows about them? I wonder if the president knows that the only two Latin American countries that actually declared war on the Axis Powers and sent troops to fight were Brazil and Mexico. For over 75 years Mexicans have been by America's side, bleeding with American soldiers, and paying the ultimate sacrifice. Yet, on the killing beaches and fields of Normandy, basking in the adulation of U.S. veterans, Trump had the audacity to choose that sacred space to wage an embarrassing trade war against an important military ally. Shame on him.
Even more shameful, the New York Times is now reporting that Trump had already hashed out much of the trade deal months ago. An official told the Times, "The Mexican government had pledged to deploy the National Guard nationwide with a focus on its southern border-a key part of Friday's agreement-during secret meetings in March between former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican interior secretary Olga Sanchez in Miami."
If this reporting is accurate, I think it pretty much proves that Trump could care less about Mexico as a business partner; Mexicans as people with cultural and social value independent of U.S. interests; or the military legacy of Mexico in WWII. Trump does not even care that Mexico has been a bulwark against international terrorism ever since 9/11. Every day Mexicans show up to work, proud of their jobs, and committed to keeping Americans safe. In part, because of their vigilant defense of the southern border, there has not been another 9/11 type event in 18 years.
All Trump appears to care about is bolstering his own self image as a strongman in front of other foreign leaders who he wants to gain leverage over. I truly wish that his gamesmanship is more sophisticated but, at least on a Freudian level, it's not. It’s just ego mania without brakes, a ridiculous charade, one that unnecessarily harmed relations with a key ally in order to make an insecure man feel heard in front of his rivals. After a few high profile busts of migrating families crossing Mexican deserts and rivers, this manufactured conflict over tariffs will achieve nothing but bad memories and resentment. It sure as hell will not stop the flow of migration across Mexico.