For MEB, always.
Mexico is a curious neighbor for the United States, if an important one, as to ultimate priorities in the "Fast & Furious" affair. It's a curious neighbor because of the vast differential in wealth, if not so much in population, as at 100 million people, Mexico is not a small country, and its only poor relative to the United States, as in global terms its a Middle Income Country, if that looks poor compared to the United States, and that economic differential is larger in effect because of inequality in Mexico derived from the nature of the Spanish colonial experience having a very different demography than here as to colonials not outnumbering natives in Mexico and most of Latin America.
The last thing the United States needs is a hostile relationship with Mexico.
That is especially because overall, since the victory of Vicente Fox in ending the PRI monopoly, Mexico has made a lot of progress in democratization, and economic liberalization too, if the latter has its limits due to the impact of the colonial system of ongoing semi-blanco (European descent) rule over mestizos (mixed race) and indios (descendants of Indians) in terms of greater economic inequality that generates social, and therefore political tension: remember the Chiapas-Zapatista affair as to people being able to organize on that basis, with Subcommandante Marcos, and still lurking out there?
It's not as if Mexico doesn't have a history of insurgencies before, as to why to not antagonize our neighbor if one can avoid it, although at times the Mexican power elite takes advantage of that in order to bargain more effectively too in terms of not doing things that would cost them wealth, power, and status.
But if Mexico were to ever fail as a state, that would be a strategic disaster of the first order for the United States, although again the Mexican power elite sometimes blackmails us with that possibility as to not being as cooperative in some matters as it could be too. Power elites are also always like that, as to not throwing stones in glass houses.
As however to being careful with the Fast and the Furious, if you were a foreign enemy of the United States, it isn't rocket science to see that Mexico is potentially America's strategic Achilles heel as to sharing a long border, having lots of people on both sides of the border, and territorial exchanges in the American Southwest that we forget or gloss over but are a source of some level of unhappiness on the other side, as a factual matter; that's what the Zimmerman Telegram was all about.
It's pretty funny how that happened in some ways, as to us insisting on paying them for the land, in their capital as to a certain hymn and Halls of Montezuma, even if they kept saying, "But it's not for sale."
"Here, have 10 billion(current dollars), we insist." It would seem like Mexico isn't quite Canada as to forgeting about the past, a little bit at least, and a reason not to gratuitously provoke. People should probably think about that in terms of immigration too.
As to grand strategic imperatives, of course it's tragic when a Border Agent is killed, although it was tragic too when one of the Mexican cartels, and which one that really was who really knows as to public discourse, took over a bar in Monterey, and killed 50 people last summer.
And that's just one thousandth of the number of Mexicans killed in drug-related violence, 50,000 dead, since the Calderon Administration in Mexico stepped up in 2006, and at our urging, its campaign against the drug cartels.
That is a level of violence on the scale of the FARC insurgency in Columbia that however U.S. assistance also eventually crushed, mas o menos. It would aslo be unfortunate if our desire to suppress drug trafficking undid Mexican progress in democratization since the end of the PRI monopoly, and would surely negatively impact economic liberalization over the long run too.
As to reasons for optimism as to efficacy of past American efforts, the FARC narco-based insurgency in Columbia used to occupy large areas of Columbia, and could penetrate cities at will, killing presidential candidates at one point.
As to remembering certain risks in Mexico, if this would be the reverse evolution, the FARC was originally a typical Marxist-Leninist group, although by the end, it had evolved into narco-terrorists of a grave threat to the Columbian state, which however the U.S. military managed to assist the Columbian government in radically reducing in strategic and then tactical efficacy.
Given the existence of bands like the Zapatistas in Mexico historically speaking, its not in American interest to gratuitously antagonize the Mexican state, since if the cartels were to evolve in the reverse direction of the FARC, as from criminals to ideologues, they would be even more of a problem.
In both case, it's not really either Columbia or Mexico's fault that the gringos want a lot of drugs, as to ultimate causality, and therefore demand reduction is really the ultimate American strategic objective, if that's of course easier said than done.
That Monterey Massacre episode b the way was not long after a cartel took eighteen wheelers and blocked all the major roads in Monterey, a message to the wealthiest Mexican State of Nuevo Leon as to power, which isn't a good thing for us.
Overall, Monterey is the first world part of Mexico, not really any different than Spain, Italy, or Germany as to levels of real consumption and other measures of well-being, at least in significant parts of Monterey and Nuevo Leon as a whole. Mexico is actually in global terms not a poor country, but Middle Income, if with a lot of inequality that exacerbates the effect caused by Mexico bordering the wealthiest most powerful state in the world.
As was said by one of the greatest Mexicans, dictator Porfirio Diaz, who invited much Western capital in as the neo-liberal of his day: pobre Mexico, tan cerca de los Estados Unidos tan lejos del Dios. Poor Mexico, so close to the United States, so far from God.
That Middle Income status is also not all of Mexico by a long shot, which is why it is a curious neighbor for the United States.
There is no equivalent in Western Europe of a country with a Mexican level of poverty bordering a European country, other than Ceuta and Melilla across from Spain, a source of constant tenion in Spain, if benefits too as to agricultural labor.
If immigration is a safety valve historically speaking for the Mexican power elite, that has a place, if they also can go too far with that as to causing obvious social tenions here too.
So for all the hay about Holder and the Fast and the Furious, remembering the context in which that occured, and the achievements of the U.S. Army in Columbia with the FARC is worth remembering as to not taking things too far with this episode, as again, we don't need a failed state or hostile state on our southern border, especially again because overall, Mexico has made progress in so many areas since the PRI lost its sixty year monopoly on power, and especially because of obvious inter-ethnic tensions within the United States that we wouldn't want to exacerbate.
If the Fast and Furious itself obviously didn't go very well from a perspective that can be recognized by lawyers, as opposed to collecting intelligence, passing that along, and then closing eyes as to what has to be done in life sometimes, that doesn't mean that every effort of the American government in such matters is subject to the same critique, as we know that if it probably wasn't always something most people would want to think about very much, and has had blowback in the Autos as another problem, our actions in Columbia most definitely did severely weaken the FARC, as to people overall knowing what they are doing in difficult, and very morally ambiguous situations.
Too many people lately seem to have a short memory as to a time not long ago when Mexico if not hostile was very definitely not particularly friendly either, especially to mutually beneficial economic exchanges. Porfirio Diaz isn't the most popular of people, and yet was wise in many ways as to realizing Mexico's fate was intimately tied to that of the United States economically, even if because of the power distribution of Spanish colonial times, his integration of the Mexican economy with that of the United States triggered a backlash culminating in the tragedy in many ways of the Mexican Revolution of 1911, in which millions of Mexicans died, and in which at one point, 500,000 American troops entered Northern Mexico.
Although the PRI stabilized Mexico, and therefore did good, their left wing semi-Marxist approach in many ways held Mexico back as to American and Western investment, even as the later PRI saw that and undid those policies, a process which accelerated with the loss of their monopoly under Vicente Fox. We are the ones who want the drugs, although now Mexico itself has developed a serious drug problem that makes the cartels that much stronger. Having a sense of perspective about that as to the importance of the Fast and the Furious in the context of American interests in the future of Mexico would seem wise.