Under George W. Bush, the United States has not lived up to its historic role as a leader in the Western Hemisphere. As president, I will restore that leadership by working to advance the common prosperity and security of all of the people of the Americas. That work must begin with a renewed strategic partnership with Mexico.Calderon did meet with an Obama co-chair, and he may have avoided Washington because he needed the time to visit their outposts, or national politicians realized how damaging it would be to be seen with him, or he didn't want to be too obvious. And, of course, Obama is being unkind: Bush has done his best to reach out to Mexico, even going as far as making a pledge to the Mexican government.
...Mexico's President Felipe Calderon just traveled across the United States but didn't even go to Washington, which isn't that surprising given how little Mr. Bush has done to improve relations.
Starting my first year in office, I will convene annual meetings with Mr. Calderon and the prime minister of Canada. Unlike similar summits under President Bush, these will be conducted with a level of transparency that represents the close ties among our three countries. We will seek the active and open involvement of citizens, labor, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in setting the agenda and making progress.Those NGOs would probably include unsavory groups which Obama has outreached to, and whether the institutional forces that favor the SPP would allow him any form of actual transparency is doubtful. I think we can put that down as "far-left groups + citizen useful idiots who'll be used for show."
It's also time to develop a bilateral strategy for lifting up our border communities. Six and a half million Americans live in cities and towns next to the border, and 61 million Americans live in the four states that border Mexico. Too often we neglect the unique needs of these communities, which are integrated with their sister cities across the border. As president, I will work with state and local governments to enhance cross-border partnerships in transportation, law enforcement, environmental protection, health care and water usage.Some cities like El Paso and smaller towns are somewhat integrated with their neighbors, but perhaps we should remind Obama that there's a border there, and those cities and towns are part of the U.S. not Mexico. I don't think that's as strong a distinction for him as it should be and as it is for the vast majority of Americans.
Finally, we have to recognize the connection between our rhetoric and our relations – both with Mexico and within our own borders. We can and should have a robust debate about immigration reform, but we should never demonize or scapegoat any ethnic group. Already, we have seen an unacceptable spike in hate crimes aimed at Latinos across America. This has proven divisive here at home, and it risks poisoning our relations with Latin America.Obama has no interest in a "robust" debate, he simply wants to shut the voices of millions out of the debate by calling them names and smearing them as "scapegoaters".
Our relationship with Mexico should serve as a bridge to greater security and prosperity in North America and to better relations with Latin America. But we cannot achieve this partnership unless we engage in sustained and focused diplomacy, and develop a more effective working relationship with our neighbor to the south.
Wed, 02/20/2008 - 13:28 · Importance: 4