Thursday, March 4, 2004

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More feedback on Huntington

The Economist does their take on Huntington's Foreign Policy essay. Last three grafs:

A large opinion poll co-ordinated in 2000 by the Washington Post found that 90% of new arrivals from Latin America believe that it is important for them to change in order to fit in with their adopted country. Only one in ten of second-generation Latinos relies mainly on speaking Spanish. Latinos do not see themselves as a monolithic ethnic group. Nor do they necessarily agree with the politics of their countrymen back home. The New America Foundation's Gregory Rodriguez points out that a significant proportion of the American troops being killed in Iraq are Latinos—and that the commander of the allied liberation forces there, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, grew up in a Texan county that is 98% Mexican-American.

Mr Huntington is right to point out that absorbing large numbers of people from a next-door country poses unusual problems. The United States needs to heed George Bush's call to bring immigrants out of the shadow economy where millions of them now work. It needs to scrap the failed experiment with bilingual education which has left so many immigrants unable to speak English. And it needs to stop pandering to ethnic demagogues with special programmes for ethnic minorities.

But the cost of closing the borders would be far bigger than keeping them open, by starving the economy of some of its most energetic workers. Throughout its history America's great strength has been its ability to absorb new people—and the new ideas and tastes that they bring with them. There is no reason to think that this will change just because the new people come across the Rio Grande rather than across the Atlantic.

Over at the Corner, John Derbyshire comments on my TNR critique of Huntington. He opens:

Dan Drezner's piece strikes me as fair and judicious. That does not, of course, mean "correct." I would seriously dispute a number of his points -- for example, that Mexico is redefining itself as a "North American" country. It seem more likely to me that the cultural gap between us and them is widening, not narrowing.

Just to reiterate -- I didn't say that Mexico was redefining itself as a North American country, though I believe this to be true. My point in the TNR essay was that Huntington thought this was true when he wrote The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order eight years ago.

In closing, here's an e-mail response to the TNR essay that I've received [No fair!! This is just a single anecdota!--ed. If Huntington can quote a guy talking to Robert Kaplan, I can use this.]:

I am a Mexican-American, I am a U.S. citizen. I live in El Centro, California, which is adjacent to the California-Mexico border. I want to make the following personal observations, which I believe are held by the majority of Hispanics.

First, a little background; my father was born in the USA, but for economic reasons my parents found it necessary to live on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border, and work in the USA. Because of this, I was born in Mexico. I was 6 years old when my parents moved to the USA, legally and permanently.

I strongly believe that the scenarios of doom that persons like Mr. Samuel Huntington and Mr. Victor Davis Hanson ("Mexifornia") are based on premises that are not based on reasoned research and analysis of the Hispanic community. I, and my siblings, are the second-generation Mexican-Americans of my family. I and one of my brothers, and my two sisters, are completely fluent in English and Spanish. My other brother, is not. His Spanish is horrendous, as is his wife's, also Mexican-American.

Their children? forget it--they wouldn't know a Spanish word if they got hit by one. My wife and I, also Mexican-American, are fluent in both languages. My oldest son was fluent at one time, he is 28, but is rapidly losing the Spanish. My other son, has trouble with it, and my baby, my daughter of 19 yrs old, can more understand it than speak it. I have a grandaughter, no Spanish whatsoever. I look around at my contemporaries and find the same phenomenom with their children and grandchildren.

The American culture is overwhelming and very, very powerful. MTV, VH-1, and the like have immense influence on children as they grow up. Our children are no different than others and in that they probably know more about Janet Jackson, NSync, Kid Rock, pizza, downloading music, Bill Gates, etc. etc, in other words American popular culture, than they do about "their" Mexican culture and language.

Over time, assimilation is complete.

We hear all the absurd claims, among them the most absurd is the claim that we, Mexican-Americans, want a 'Reconquista', the reclaiming of the land that Mexico lost to the USA during the Mexican-American war. Again, among my contemporaries I know of no one that wishes to replace our existing way of life and replace it with a government run and managed by Mexico City, with all that that nightmare would entail.

As with anything else, if you look hard enough you will find some group or another that will state just such a thing, but there are odd-balls in everything. For example, if you search hard enough I am sure that you will find some Americans that support a dictatorship in the USA, yet they don't speak for the majority of Americans.

As for those that claim that illegal immigrants pose a threat, are these the same illegal immigrants that risk their life, their families, their livelihoods, their savings, to cross into the USA, for what??? To impose a government and an economy that they risked so much to get away from??

posted by Dan on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM


Hanson's _Mexifornia_ said that American popular culture had a powerful assimilative effect which might do the job all by itself. Hanson also commented that we shouldn't rely on this alone.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

It's not enough to simply say "assimilation"; there's also the issue of what people are assimilating to - and there's more than one answer. The very distinguished sociologist Christopher Jencks made this point in the non-nativist New York Review of Books a couple of years ago:


posted by: tc on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

It's possible that Washington Post sees a different part of the country than I do.

Go to any medium-sized city in Southern California. You'll be immersed in Mexico.

A friend ouf ours is a Mormon. He came back from his mission in Idaho. He learned almost perfect Spanish there.

I applaud the guy who wrote the reply you quote. I have no doubt whatsoever that he's in the minority.

Over time, assimilation is complete. Just not for everybody, and not in any geological time period.

I for one don't claim that immigrants pose a threat (exceept for those who join gangs - either voluntarily or involuntarily). I do claim that while they do want - and need - to get away from the misery that is Mexico, they want only to recreate here what they left behind.

posted by: Mike on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

“The only way to square this circle is to take a massive forward modernization effort with Mexico. Backed up by military coordination if necessary. We can no longer afford to have Mexico as the poor, backward, languishing neighbor down south. The economic prosperity and national security of Americans depends upon bringing Mexico into the 21st Century - actually the latter 20th Century would be a large improvement.”


President Sebastian Lerdo de Tejeda, who immediately followed Jauraz and preceeded Diaz, opposed building a railroad between Mexico and the United States and was reported to have said, “Between strength and weakness, the desert.” The completion of the railroad to El Paso in 1884 and Laredo in 1888 largely removed this barrier. As a result, the US exercised the influence so dreaded by Mexican nationalist since 1848.

The railroad also weakened the peonage system in northern Mexico by increasing labor mobility, and increased the number of seasonal laborers in northern Mexico. The only thing that separated newly mobile Mexican laborers and expanding agriculture in Texas, California and all points in between was a river and desert where the railroad didn’t go.

From the beginning of the Diaz government in 1876, we were eager to set up businesses and invest in Mexico – particularly in mining and oil. There had really been no xenophobia under Diaz and foreigners, especially Americans, were welcome. By 1910, foreign investment accounted for over two thirds of the total investment in mining, oil, railways, manufacturing, public utilities and banks. Of the one third that was Mexican investment, it was concentrated in banks and manufacturing. In other words, foreigners (i.e. we) pretty much controlled the Mexican economy.

After Diaz was deposed in 1910, our ambassador blatantly interfered in Mexico’s internal affairs and supported a military coup by acting as an intermediary between General Huerta and former officials of the old regime. President Wilson, who sympathized with the revolution against the military regime of Huerta, did a complete policy U-turn and landed in Vera Cruz in 1914. This merely succeeded in alienating all sides in the struggle. The memories of 1848 were dormant, but our intervention woke them right up.

In other words, we have controlled Mexico’s economy before, we interfered in their politics before, we have imposed order before, and all we have succeeded in doing is creating a huge amount of distrust. It is exactly Mexico’s experience that gives me great pause about our decision to plant democracy in Iraq – we have been down this road before and we blew it.

posted by: TexasToast on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]


That any SoCal town would immerse me in "Hispania, The Musical" is not only of no consequence - it is intuitive. What did you expect to find there - Hoagies, Mayo, and Hot Chocolate?

If you want to shock me into a rage against the brown plague, tell me that "Hispania on Ice" is coming to an enclosed mall in Minnesota.

But as long as we're on intuitive, let me repost the best bit of the thread:

"As for those that claim that illegal immigrants pose a threat, are these the same illegal immigrants that risk their life, their families, their livelihoods, their savings, to cross into the USA, for what??? To impose a government and an economy that they risked so much to get away from??"

You'd think your Mormon friend and you would welcome a newly arrived christian people...

(Sidebar- Hey ch2, Mormons are a christian sect that hail from the Utah region of our country. Google under Smith, Custer and Artillery)

posted by: Tommy G on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Let's keep things in perspective here. We are not about to undertake a "massive forward modernization effort with Mexico, backed up by military coordination if necessary." Leaving aside what "massive forward modernization effort" means -- as I must, because I have no idea -- Mexico is a country of over 100 million people. I'm sure there are a lot of things about it that need to change, but we are not going to change them with any kind of government program.

Whatever "mistrust" exists in Mexican intellectual circles as a residue of 1848, or 1915, or the last time the American soccer team beat Mexico in the World Cup is therefore irrelevant to this discussion, which is about Mexicans immigrating to the United States and the likely consequences of that for this country.

Having read Huntington's article I find his outlook alarmist, doubt his supporting data, and think his search for solutions handicapped at the start by his ambivalence about the nature of the problem. Is it the number of immigrants, the attitude of immigrants, our policies for dealing with the issues of assimilation, or the diminished self-confidence of the culture immigrants are asked to assimilate to? Huntington seems to think it is all of these at different points in his article, and ends up begging the question of how exactly we are to meet this "Hispanic challenge."

And yet....

Complacency about the very high levels of immigration we have seen for some time can have a cost. It is only natural that during times of economic difficulty social tensions directed at outsiders will increase somewhat, and is no more than common sense to take steps to avoid this. President Bush, to his great credit, has proposed such steps in relation to an obvious point of potential discontent: the illegal presence here of millions of foreign nationals. Other people -- the Californians who have battled against bi-lingual education, for example -- have addressed other issues related to immigration. Without endorsing all of their specific ideas, we can acknowledge the importance of efforts to reduce the amount of disruption and discontent resulting from a specific source of change.

It is possible, though I doubt it, that unfortunate political trends envisioned by Huntington or other writers are in our future. The best way to avoid them seems to me to deal with the many issues relating to immigration pragmatically and one at a time, neither abandoning the goal of assimilation nor taking it for granted.

posted by: Zathras on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Tommy G,
"Sidebar- Hey ch2, Mormons are a christian sect that hail from the Utah region of our country. Google under Smith, Custer and Artillery"
When I ask for info, you get snarky (though I wasn't even talking to you). When I don't ask for any, you volunteer it ?

Your degree of maturity is out of the ordinary.

posted by: ch2 on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

I am married into large Mexican family--2nd and 3rd generation; and from that perspective your original poster's position on illegal immigrants is absolutely a in-laws, dyed in the wool Lloyd Doggett supporters, would be happy to see illegal immigration from Mexico stopped completely. The oligarchy that rules Mexico has no incentive to change its ways so long as the US is a safety valve for those whose needs are not met at home.

posted by: lynn on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

guess what the cover story for businessweek is next week?

posted by: gogol13 on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Last year my sister had her roof replaced in the Bay Area. The work was done by 5 Mexicans who worked so furiously that their blows on the roof formed a continuous roar from the legal start time of 7 AM till noon followed by a resumption of the roar at 12:30. When the job was done the old roof covering filled a large dump truck and the driver had no idea of where he was and how to get to the dump. He spoke no English; I spoke no Spanish. But he wanted to know and I wanted to tell him and we worked it out with much laughing. His body was thick; his fingers like sausages from a lifetime of such toil. Just like the pure blooded descendants of 18th century English farmers I grew up among. After a sedentary career in academia I couldn't go 10 minutes on the roof with that man and I know it. My hats off to him. People who come to my country who are willing to work like that are always welcome.

posted by: lgude on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

“Whatever "mistrust" exists in Mexican intellectual circles as a residue of 1848, or 1915, or the last time the American soccer team beat Mexico in the World Cup is therefore irrelevant to this discussion, which is about Mexicans immigrating to the United States and the likely consequences of that for this country.”


It is quite relevant to this discussion if the policy options for "combating" Mexican immigration considered include ". .. massive forward modernization effort with Mexico, backed up by military coordination if necessary…" or shutting the safety valve to create an incentive for the “…oligarchy that rules Mexico [ that] has no incentive to change its ways..."

Mexico was radicalized and thrown into Civil War between 1910 and 1920. Remember Pancho Villa? He attacked Columbus, New Mexico in the good ole US of A in 1916. What if he had had WMDs? (Hyperbole, I know, but I couldn’t resist.) :)

PS We ain't that good at soccer.

posted by: TexasToast on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Look all,

Status quo "ignore the problem" is what has been weakening the Democratic party on many fronts, and ceding the battle of idea to the neo-Republican party. On the other hand, the neo-Republican party seems to believe that propping up corrupt regimes in realpolitick style or semi-randomly invading countries that might or might not pose a threat to us, as well as pretending problems solve themselves, is a successful style of governance. I would think that both are failed.

People in Mexico aren't happy about the way things are done down there. They would welcome help that stops short of invasion and "regime change" which is not on the table. There is a leader down there President Vincente Fox whom they say would be delighted about some serious and large scale developmental help for Mexico.

Things like reforming the oil-industry bureacracy, bringing clean water, helping them reform their education system (currently only Mexicans with birth certificates can attend ... and many are born outside the formal system), increased assistance with drug trafficking, acknowledging and moving forward on the immigration and undocumented worker problem, etc. etc. They could use help cleaning up their banking system, as well as expanding small business start-up lending. Anti-corruption efforts in the police forces would be good too.

As Carolina has pointed out, people don't like it down there. As lynn has pointed out, without outside pressure and the immigration pressure escape valve no real change has been forthcoming. We need to provide that pressure, do it to create political liberalization and put our muscle and money behind the reformers. Otherwise people will become frustrated, apathetic, and give up.

That is what I mean by massive forward engagement with Mexico ... including military coordination. If we don't, then things will continue to fester and Mexico will never achieve the structural economic parity that would relieve the immigration streams coming north as well as make them a truly coequal member of NAFTA.

I think after a decade and then some of NAFTA we can see that just letting things work out by themselves won't work. And yes there has been political and military interventionism down south of the border - but mostly it's been of the crudest and most self-destructively selfish short-sighted sort.

If we practiced what we really preached, and really supported political liberalizers and reformers down there as well as providing targeted infrastructure aid there would be a change for the better. And it's not like it's getting better on its own, or not posing us with difficult and expensive challenges anyway. There is a much stronger case for forward engagement and developmental assistance to Mexico than there was to Iraq prior to our invasion.

Failure to grasp that people demand not just 'paralysis by analysis' but real answers and programs for progress will continue to render the "L" in Liberal as symbolic for Loser.

posted by: Oldman on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Disengagement a huge mistake and not at all something I support.

The area that I support GWB on most strongly is his halting attempts to deal with immigration issues. Interestingly, he and Fox were working on a plan the week before 9/11 – which was just another part of that tragedy.

We simply cannot slam the door shut and we cant have it completely our way. We must engage Mexico in Mexico and in the US, and be willing to encourage and support change. We cannot impose it however, and we can’t own everything. Unfortunately for Haitians, we can get away with ignoring them (except for once a decade). Mexico is another matter entirely.

posted by: TexasToast on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

For sure the second generation will have higher aspirations than the first....why can't you see this only makes the problem 100 times worse? If the reason we're thinking about giving amnesty to the 8 million illegals that are already here is because Americans won't do manual work, then we'll just have to import another 8 million next generation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not FOR creating an underclass with no hope of the prosperity (which is the American dream). This is the precise reason we must WEAN ourselves from this dangerous little quick fix.

posted by: Belen on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

The problem with Bush's proposals is that they are all carrot (the crypto-amnesty) and no stick (increased enforcement of immigration laws). This is a recipe for more illegal immigration, not less, on the principle that you get more of what you reward.

I happen to agree with the guest-worker approach, provided that it is paired with an enforcement policy that makes it much better from a Mexican laborer's point of view than just wading across the river. At this point, from the laborer's perspective, the guest worker idea is just more bureaucratic hassles that won't get him anywhere he can't get as an illegal.

posted by: R C Dean on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Why Not auction citizenship??

Take the number of unemployed away from the number of unfilled vacancies after 3months, and auction full citizenship to this number of people.

Result: Free Market Imigration + Massive reduction in money available to the gangs, oh and it's also good for the balance of payments!

posted by: Rob Read on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]


"There is a much stronger case for forward engagement and developmental assistance to Mexico than there was to Iraq prior to our invasion."

Agreed. Great part of a great post.

I just don't see how we do that in the constraint of 4 year election cycles. It would almost have to be a congressional project, so that it could be (somewhat) insulated from the whims of the (this, previous, any) executive branch. But then how do you win wide-spread support?

All that said, I'm for anything that will create an eventual future where we have to begrudgingly contest (economically) with a successful Mexico, than sympathetically dictate to her.

Well, I was hopeful that Reagan would use his 2d to resolve the Cuban sitch and Clinton his 2d to reconcile the Isle of Haiti - but maybe ol' 43 will use his 2d to do what you suggest with Mexico. He's certainly familiar with the project.

posted by: Tommy G on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Regarding lectures on maturity from ch2:

"I'm thinking of taking up a collection to send you to trash-talk school."
LOL, And you complain about my readibility ?

Are you for real ?

Let's see 8 months for 1 guy in a hole ? How long for 30,000 tons of gas, centrifuges for uranium enrichment, large mobile labs.... Uuuuhh: less time ?

The Dems actually have a platform beyond the war: sucky economy, ballooning deficit, etc. So the Vegas crapshot thing pretty much says nothing. If you had READ the speech you would see that Dean is talking about restoring our badly frayed diplomatic might. True, whether one vial of anthrax will be found or not. How does settling North Korea hurt the Dems one way or another ? Patently ridiculous.

I sure hung around while your stupid green horn got up to speed, so you'll have to suck it up kid. International street cred ? What kind of nonsense is that ? Dean is saying "make smart use of other countries and allies, instead of pissing them off continually", how that gets twisted in your mind with "entrusting Chirac and Anna with our safety" is beyond me.

You clearly should not lift anything, heavy or light.

Posted by ch2 at December 17, 2003 06:04 PM


As for as saying that the US had the right to do the UN's bidding against the UN's wishes stretches the bounds of sanity. But I guess that's why only a 6th grader would fall for your crock of crap.
You Dean-haters are rather pathetic.

Posted by ch2 at December 17, 2003 05:00 PM

posted by: ch2 historian on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]


"There is a much stronger case for forward engagement and developmental assistance to Mexico than there was to Iraq prior to our invasion."

Agreed. Great part of a great post.”

Nope, this is false. The last time I checked there were no Mexican religious extremists flying into buildings in the United States. What is the most important aspect of invading Iraq?: it is the establishment of a democracy in the Islamic Middle East. We are helping the moderate Muslims defeat the radicals. This is ultimately the only way to insure our safety.

The Mexican immigrant situation is a modest problem, but it is not a crisis. Moreover, it can become a solid positive if these Mexicans abandon their indifference to education and are encouraged to assimilate much more quickly. Our country needs their youth and willingness to work hard. I live in Houston, Texas, and these Mexicans are helping our economy to grow and prosper.

posted by: David Thomson on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]


I tend to agree with your comments here, but would like to point out:

"The Mexican immigrant situation is a modest problem, but it is not a crisis"

Well, that depends on how you reckon it. While I agree that in the current reality, it doesn't rise to the level of 'crisis', but I submit that had 9/11 not happened, we could *easily* consider the Mexican issues to be a crisis.

These relationships are relative.

posted by: Bithead on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

“...but I submit that had 9/11 not happened, we could *easily* consider the Mexican issues to be a crisis.”

I still disagree. The Mexican immigration situation could also be looked upon as a great opportunity! There is just far too much talk about the negative aspects of Mexican immigration. I am utterly convinced that there are only two major things which must be addressed:

1.) The macho Mexican contempt for education. A real man is suppose to be a moron.

2.) The deleterious influence of the politically correct liberals discouraging the assimilation of these people. This is why I remain irritated towards Samuel Huntington’s article. He apparently did not wish to openly confront the academic “multiculturalists.”

posted by: David Thomson on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]


Yes and no - depending on your/my read.

I think the only part of "forward engagement' left to do with regards to Iraq had to do with the clutches in our M1's.

What I think the oldman was getting at was actual dialogue between our two states. In which case he is correct - There *was* a much stronger case for forward engagement and developmental assistance to Mexico than there was to [forward engagement and developmental assistance to]Iraq.

However, I see what you're getting at with the 'planes and skyscrappers' thing - but it's not my intent to draw moral equivalents.

posted by: Tommy G on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Tommy G aka "ch2 historian",

Good job at digging and posting quotes out of context. You may consider that honest argumentation, I do not. I could do the same with your posts, and put you in a worse light even, yet I won't. As for "maturity lectures" ? Nope, no lectures from me, just an observation about your behavior. You called me out in this thread, and I told you what I thought of it. You dislike it and want a flame war ? Find another partner, I'm not interested.

posted by: ch2 on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]


Again, we agree; merely a matter of label, where we disagree, here.

I've been going crazy trying to remember where I'd heard that name before. Lemme guess; "The Prometheus Fault"?

posted by: Bithead on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Hold up - did I just see a bunch of people agree that the US must start nation building in Mexico?


posted by: Carolina on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

The cover story of BusinessWeek has some interesting charts on the Hispanic influence on the US economy, particularly this one...

...which depicts Latinos taking over baby boomers as a percentage of the workforce around 2020.

Also, David Thompson's reservations about Mexican assimilation could equally be applied to African Americans. Yet judging by this chart...

...they do appear to be harder workers.

posted by: DG on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Yes, Carolina, you heard exactly that -- multiple endorsements of bold steps to make Mexican immigration to the United States less attractive by making Mexico less of a place people want to flee.

Neither the individual nor the cumulative cost of these steps has been counted, nor have the other obligations of the American government been considered. With the question of cost set aside, we can all I think agree heartily that the United States should strive to make Mexico's police less corrupt, Mexico's education system more inclusive and Mexico's democracy more, well, democratic. Unfortunately cost is a relevant factor, and when it is introduced into the equation most of the ideas for an American-led transformation of Mexico are exposed as utterly lacking in substance.

Let's not divert ourselves from the issues raised by immigration with a lot of impractical dreaming about transforming other countries. The issues raised by immigration -- especially immigration from Mexico -- are in the main issues we have to deal with here in the United States. They represent battles we can win. There are other battles we cannot win, and there is some value in being able to see the difference.

posted by: Zathras on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

There is a large difference between “engagement” and “bold steps to make Mexican immigration to the United States less attractive by making Mexico less of a place people want to flee”. I think there are many things we can do to assist Mexico to remain/become a stable society that should cost substantially less than, say (lets pick a number out of the air) eighty-seven Billion dollars ($87,000,000,000.00). That’s with a capital B.

I do not believe that a “massive” program is warranted, or would necessarily be effective. However, I think the cost of a radicalized Mexico, which, IMHO, would result if the emigration escape valve were closed precipitously, would make eighty-seven Billion dollars ($87,000,000,000.00) look like pocket change.

Further, in a rare moment of agreement with David, I agree that Mexican immigration can bring positive good, both to this country, to Mexico, and to the “ …masses yearning to breath free.”

posted by: TexasToast on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

First of all, it should be noted that $87 billion is not being spent to reconstruct Iraq. Most of that is military operations. Second of all, most of what is being spent on civilian operations is being spent highly inefficiently. Some would say it is the fault of high security costs. Some would say it is corruption from sweet heart deals. Others say it's merely incompetentcy. I don't see any people credibly saying however that we are getting a good deal on this project. Go figure, I guess invading a country first wasn't the smartest way to start out nation-building afterall...

I would also like to say that there is no moral equivalence between September 11 and Mexico. I would also like to say that there is no connection exception in the demented mind of Thomson who like our President can't seem to chew gum and walk at the same time. He managed to link 911, terrorism, the middle-east, and Iraq into one huge muddle.

I do know that the money we spend in Iraq if spent instead in Mexico would return far higher gains far more quickly across the board.

Taking Bush's adventure in Iraq and making it the standard for how all developmental aid would work in the future is being slightly undiscriminating to say the least. We can do better than that.

I like the idea about it being a congressional project, and nor do I think that it is an impractical. Really? What other choice do we have?

Both business demand and political pandering for these illegal workers makes it politically unsustainable to simply throw up a wall even were that possible. The dirty truth is that too many people benefit from having them here.

What Zathras speaks of as things that can be done is extremely vague. What are these things that can be done? Completely legalizing immigration from Mexico? Stepping up enforcement? These are just bandaids on the underlying problem.

The real problem is that socioeconomically Mexico is too backwards to have stable and mutually beneficial relations with a country as advanced as the USA. The only real solution in the long run is to seriously improve the lot of Mexico. And it is the long run. All these issues have been examined in the past, from improving enforcement to increasing legal immigration, and nothing has worked. For decades.

For one I welcome these people here to the United States, but the fact is that the current system is encouraging a second-class citizen category and enabling a systematic and chronic problem. Let us welcome the people, but fix the problem so that things improve on both sides of the border.

posted by: Oldman on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Wal-Mart has done more to move Mexico forward than almost anything else since NAFTA, including sadly Sr. Fox, from whom I had hoped for more.

People who blame the problems in Latin America on US meddling are clueless. I lived in South America for 5 years and if you want to find large historical forces that have caused misery is Latin America, look at the Pope and the King of Spain, not the CIA and multi-national corporations.

posted by: buck smith on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

I haven’t heard anyone on this board blame the “misery” in Latin America on US meddling. US meddling is a relatively new phenomenon in the 500 year history of Latin America since Columbus, Cortez and Pizarro. My point was that there is a perception somewhat supported by history that the US has done what it darn well pleases in the western hemisphere – and everybody else can just stuff it. Whether it’s true or not is an issue for another day, but we need to take this perception into account in shaping an immigration policy.

posted by: TexasToast on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

I realize this thread has probably “expired”, so to speak (anyone have a clever neologism?) but I find that writing helps me clarify and tighten my thinking. I am posting this on the off chance someone might have a reaction. I apologize in advance for the “paralysis of analysis” or for boring you.

Last night, my wife and I saw “the Fog of War” and I reread Kaplin’s Atlantic article this morning. I found the following things interesting:

From Kaplin:
In politically advanced states loyalty is to institutions, not to groups. States like ours are the result of a long process of urbanization and enlightenment, but this process can be destabilizing in its own right. "The faster the enlightenment of the population, the more frequent the overthrow of the government," he observed. The French and Mexican Revolutions were preceded not by poverty but by sustained social and economic development. The economic growth that the global elite now champions around the world will lead to instability and upheaval before it leads to politically advanced societies.

--- This seems to run directly contrary to the idea that a sustained economic development/education program would help matters any in Mexico or Haiti. It further buttresses the point that the railroad weakened the peonage system and led to foreign investment/economic development in Mexico in the Diaz era. In Huntington’s view, this very “advance” led to radicalization because the peons not only attained economic mobility, but also some sense of social mobility. Perhaps Wal-Mart and NAFTA is rather a disservice to Mexico?

From Kaplin:
Corruption provides the means for assimilating new groups into the system. The selling of parliamentary seats, for example, is typical of an emerging democracy, and preferable to armed attacks against Parliament itself. Corruption, Huntington pointed out, is a less extreme form of alienation than violence: "He who corrupts a system's police officers is more likely to identify with the system than he who storms the system's police stations." In late-nineteenth-century America legislatures and city councils were corrupted by utilities, railway companies, and new industrial corporations—the same forces that were spurring economic growth and helping to make the United States a world power. In India many economic activities would be paralyzed without baksheesh. Corruption in moderate doses can overcome unresponsive bureaucracy and be an instrument of progress.

--- So much for the drug war and reforming the police.

From Kaplin:
The United States, Huntington said, has trouble understanding revolutionary ferment in the rest of the world because it never experienced a real revolution. Instead it went through a war of independence—and not even one "of natives against alien conquerors," like that of the Algerians against the French, but one of settlers against the home country. Real revolutions are different—bad—Huntington made clear. Fortunately, they are rare. Even as the proletariat in Third World slums continues to radicalize, the middle classes become increasingly conservative and more willing to fight for the existing order. Writing in the late 1960s, Huntington was describing the world of the early twenty-first century. When a revolution does occur, continued economic deprivation "may well be essential to its success." The idea that food shortages and other hardships caused by economic sanctions will lead to the overthrow of a revolutionary regime like Saddam Hussein's or Fidel Castro's is nonsense, in Huntington's view. Material sacrifices, although intolerable in a normal situation, are proof of ideological commitment in a revolutionary one: "Revolutionary governments may be undermined by affluence; but they are never overthrown by poverty.

--- I don’t think this is applicable to Mexico today, as it is not a revolutionary regime. Would a closing of the immigration escape valve make it one?

From Kaplin:
In one sentence (in Political Order) he laid out the different roles played by militaries throughout the twentieth century: "In the world of oligarchy, the soldier is a radical; in the middle class world, he is a participant and arbiter; as the mass society looms ... he becomes the conservative guardian of the existing order." A better description of the changing role of the Turkish army over the decades, or of the evolving status of the Egyptian army, has never been written. Indeed, the more backward the society, the more progressive the role of the military may be—and the more cautious the West should be about wanting to replace it with civilian politicians.

--- Jean-Bertrand Aristide?

From Kaplin:
He speaks with reluctance about specific policies the United States ought to pursue. Huntington has warned in the past that it is pointless to expect people who are not at all like us to become significantly more like us; this well-meaning instinct only causes harm.

--- Assimilation? Our need to fix other countries? Nation-Building?

In The Fog of War, McNamara spoke at length about the concept of empathy – i.e. getting into the mind of the other side, so to speak. That seems very appropriate to this debate.

posted by: TexasToast on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Seems there are several kinds of argument being made in criticism of Huntington's take on Mexican immigration.

One is that immigration legal or illegal from Mexico is not a problem because these immigrants will strengthen, not weaken, the American economy and American democracy.

Another is that stories on the ground do not match the rhetoric and behavior of advocacy groups (MALDEF etc.) who display Mexican nationalism, wave the Mexican flag, and in general act as though they do want and plan a Reconquista.

A third (not seen so much on this blog) is that Mexican mass immigration is desirable precisely because it will subvert the excessively white-dominated, Anglo-Protestant American democracy and economy.

One argument I haven't seen made is that every past wave of mass immigation, none of which were as sustained or massive as the current one, was followed by a long period of low immigration during which the immigrants were, more or less, assimilated, so that the existing political and economic system, which attracted them in the first place, could digest them. The main example being the immigration moratorium from 1924-1965. At the latter date, less than five per cent of U.S. residents were born abroad, and the U.S. was less a country of immigrants than many countries in Europe.

Another I haven't seen made, or not very emphatically, is that, apart from the numbers, there are several features of the current wave that do not resemble past waves. For one thing, many activists seem to want to extend the jurisdiction of their home country to this one; the main example being the "matricula consular," the Mexican-issued I.D. card that many U.S. authorities accept as legal I.D.

No German, British, Russian, or Italian government had the kind of influence in the U.S. in the 1880s-1920s that the Mexican government has and exercises in the U.S. today.

Nor have I seen much debate on the costs of immigration to taxpayers in terms of school and health care use, for example.

It is not xenophobic or a criticism of Mexican culture to wonder about such costs, or whether, in effect, uncontrolled immigration, regardless of the intentions of individual immigrants, may undermine much of the very social substance and value that they want to be part of.

And then there is culture, the Anglo-Protestant versus multicultural thing.

On none of these issues are there simple answers. All we can be sure of is that the questions are important, and that no political leader on the national level dares talk about them.

posted by: David G. on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

THis thread, whether active or not, has moved off this topíc, but here's my $0.02 of clarification.

If a Mormon missionary went to Idaho and came home with perfect Spanish, he was sent off on a "Spanish-Language" mission.

This means: Utah authorities decided to target the Spanish-speaking community within an Anglo community, so the missionary was sent out with some language training and during his time underwent full immersion.

The Mormons (like many evangelical religions, I think) have had more success with recent or potential immigrants who already believe in some form of Christianity than with well-established residents who have lapsed into secularism.

posted by: Jackmormon on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

Sorry to disagree with your political views and statements,but your facts and opinions are biased and incorrect. The immigrants do pose a threat to all of our families here In America. I live amongst the ones that have a totally different idea than what you speculate> Their grand ideas for themselves in America is going to be like"for themselves and their generations" as they decide from here on out. I was beaten by a Mexican nat'l, my sons friend 21 yrs. old a female American born also, drug down the st. by her hair with a knife at her throat, to afraid to go for help as I am, because I have a family that I fear for their lives... When you live with the natives you see how the natives are . You can determine with a crowd of liers opinions will do, look at yourselves. Many have told me they will swarm us like flies , take our jobs, homes, our lives and their country back, on their terms. Your are getting the most idiotic lies that I have ever heard, of course they will not reveal what is really on their minds , because then their plan is disruppted...correct...or am I hallusinating? No one can tell me anything other than what I have seen or heard.Pray and listen to GOD, He is AWARE!! If you don"t take heed to HIS word, You will sell your birthright to alliens who are not God's children like the bible says.With all of God's love. I am just afraid,sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted by: Penny J. on 03.04.04 at 01:44 PM [permalink]

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