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April 07, 2009


david ronfeldt

Thanks for the plug and the interest. Today’s naming of a new U.S. border czar provides an opportunity for a few additional comments:

On our side, what we need are networks that work, more than czars. Czars and networks don’t quite fit together. Yet, I’ll be patient and hopeful for a while. After all, I’ve written elsewhere in favor of “government by network” under the rubric of cyberocray. Border relations may become a good proving ground.

But I won’t focus on this here. I’d rather emphasize something else today:

On Mexico’s side, recent developments are reminding me of two old cautionary patterns that sometimes affect bilateral relations. American newcomers to Mexico are not likely to know about them.

One is about how Mexicans — I’m speaking of policy analysts and strategists — often criticize the United States for speaking with so many different voices, for being so disorganized, that Mexico cannot be sure what Washington wants. It’s a solid criticism. And back in the late 1970s, some of us listened and proposed the creation of a single, special office in Washington for managing complex interdependence with Mexico. But then, to my surprise, as soon as it looked like Washington was getting organized, the line among Mexicans reversed. The complaint became that we wanted to become centralized in order to further U.S. domination. Therefore, Mexico should not welcome or otherwise support this effort by Washington to speak with one voice. In short, the analysis was turned upside down, inside out. They longed for a return to our disorganization.

Of course, many new bilateral mechanisms have taken hold since that early effort, so I don’t mean to harp on the pattern’s persistence — but I’ve seen indications of its remergence lately.

The second pattern has to do with Mexican resistance to concrete American proposals to strengthen aspects of bilateral cooperation, even where doing so may be to Mexico’s advantage in some respects. An example I recall involved providing a new technology decades ago. What was explained to me once, almost as an aside, was that Americans always have a list in mind; and if Mexico accedes to something, the Americans will just start pressing for the next item. Relations then became an endless, exhausting struggle. Better not to even start, if it can be avoided.

Again, I simplify, and I don’t want to exaggerate. Bilateral relations have progressed anyway. And I’ve seen no recent indications of this pattern’s reemergence. But it is an interesting pattern, still worth knowing about in my view.

Both patterns are rooted in Mexico’s historic, indeed eternal concerns about preserving national sovereignty and dignity. They are sensible concerns that Americans will have to work with and through. And I hope we can.

Meanwhile, I continue to see evidence that my original proposals — about the residual importance of camarilla networking inside Mexico, and about the need to organize stronger cross-border (or pan-border) networks for military, police, and intelligence cooperation — remain worthwhile.


david ronfeldt

at last, there’s a potentially upbeat article today -- the latest in the generally downbeat latimes series on “mexico under seige” -- that reports on a mexican army general’s mounting success against criminal gangs in the tijuana area.

among the points made:

“The police departments in Tijuana and Rosarito Beach, as well as the state police, are now run by current or former army officers.

“Gone are many of the police informants, or ‘antennas,’ that supplied organized crime with intelligence and cleared the streets before cartel kidnappings and raids, U.S. and Mexican authorities say.

“‘They took away [organized crime's] eyes and ears,’ said one source . . .”

read more here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-drugs-general18-2009apr18,0,4688678,print.story

i’m supposing this helps substantiate points i’ve been trying to make, but i can’t be sure because, among other things, the article only hints at networked cooperation.


I think you are not quite right and you should still studying the matter.


I think you are not quite right and you should still studying the matter.


Says the man from MaxiPharmacy.com :)


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With the new 2011. Year! Congratulations.


With the new 2011. Year! Congratulations.

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