Vicente Fox vs. The Golden Rule

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According to Newsweek's Joseph Contreras, Mexico isn't treating its southern neighbors the way it wants to be treated.

As tough as the United States can be for workers who slip in from south of the border, Mexico is in a poor position to criticize. The problem goes far beyond the predatory gantlet of thugs and crooked cops facing defenseless transients like Moises. There's ample precedent in Mexico for just about everything the United States is–or isn't–doing. Calling out the military? Mexicans may hate the new U.S. plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops on the border, but five years ago they cheered President Vicente Fox for sending thousands of Mexican soldiers to crack down on their southern frontier. Tougher laws? Hispanic-rights groups are enraged over U.S. efforts to criminalize undocumented aliens–yet since 1974, sneaking into Mexico has been punishable by up to two years in prison. Foot-dragging on amnesty? Fox has spent the past five years urging the United States to upgrade the status of millions of illegals from Mexico. Meanwhile, his own government has given legal status to only 15,000 foreigners without papers.

And that's nothing compared to the anti-Central American rants of Mexican TV pundit Juan Gibson.

(Picture source: Sadly, No!)

NEXT: Hello Nurse!

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  1. Gantlet?

  2. If American imperial hegemony had been better for our southern neighbors, perhaps they wouldn’t have to come here looking for work and freedom.

    JMJ

  3. Yes, “gantlet” is a word. Look it up.

    (I think it’s an alternative spelling to replace gauntlet, because gauntlet also means armored glove.)

  4. I see anti-immigrant people publicizing deplorable actions by the Mexican government all the time. My question is, so what?

    My opinion about immigration reform has absolutely nothing to do with what the Mexican government wants. Is this just an attempt to Mexicans look bad, or is there some connection I’m not making?

  5. Ah yes, the old “But things are much worse in Russia” defense. An oldie but a goodie.

  6. Oh, shut up, Joikey. Fucking dumbass Marxist troll.

    joe, I’m in agreement with your point. The ideal is that the US should serve as a beacon of hope, an example for good governance. That others fall short of that mark should not discourage us from doing the right thing.

    I see violations of immigration law as being a mass outbreak of civil disobedience. Immigrating illegally under the immigration system is simply a matter of breaking an unjust law.

    If the anti-immigration forces are so violently opposed to Mexican immigrants only because many of them are here illegally, then why are they also opposed to changing the law so that folks can immigrate legally? By asking that question — and listening carefully to the answers you get — you can see clearly the dark underbelly of racism and xenophobia that drives anti-immigrant forces.

  7. I see anti-immigrant people publicizing deplorable actions by the Mexican government all the time. My question is, so what?

    And here you see pro-immigrant folks doing it. Hypocrites are hypocrites, and deserve to be nailed.

    However I agree that Mexico’s deplorable actions don’t justify our copying them.

  8. John Gibson’s remarks reminded me of the article I did on hate groups in P.A., where the “Church of the Creator” is making women have as many white babies as possible.

    These babies are then raised in cribs and highchairs with swastikas written all over them so the child believes these things are normal.

    Scary shit going on out there man, I thinkI should have stayed in bed this morning…

  9. joe,

    Of course right, except for where does David Weigel give any reason to think he’s making an anti-immigration point?

    I’d say the post is pretty mum about any point beyond the immediate one that the Mexican government has been hypocritical on this issue. Considering that most of the Reason staff favor freer immigration, I’d guess that if Weigel has an ulterior motive it’s to urge Fox to adopt the kind of policies for Mexico’s immigrants that he adovates the US adopt for Mexican immigrants.

  10. If American imperial hegemony had been better for our southern neighbors, perhaps they wouldn’t have to come here looking for work and freedom.

    Damn those imperial hegemons, forcing the modern Mexican government to be all corrupt and everything.

  11. joe,

    Of course you’re right, except for where does David Weigel give any indication that he’s making an anti-immigration point?

    I’d say the post is pretty mum about any point beyond the immediate one that the Mexican government has been hypocritical on this issue. Considering that most of the Reason staff favor freer immigration, I’d guess that if Weigel has an ulterior motive it’s to urge Fox to adopt the kind of policies for Mexico’s immigrants that he adovates the US adopt for Mexican immigrants.

  12. If I’m comparing anything to John Gibson, it’s safe to assume I’m criticizing it.

  13. Cleanhands,

    “Oh, shut up, Joikey. Fucking dumbass Marxist troll.”

    Go wave a flag, you moron.

    Jennifer,

    “Damn those imperial hegemons, forcing the modern Mexican government to be all corrupt and everything.”

    Ever read about history, Jennifer, or do you just watch Fox News and American Idol and take it from there?

    JMJ

  14. Here’s another point that’ll kill this argument dead in the water…

    If we’re to follow Mexico’s lead on policy, does that mean that we should also legalize personal use of all drugs, as the recently-passed (then vetoed) Mexican law would have done?

    Hmmm…

  15. Hypocrites are hypocrites, and deserve to be nailed.

    Bingo.

    And the opinions of the Mexican government on how we should run our country should be given exactly the weight we would accord any foreign government sticking its nose into our business. The fact that Fox is a hypocritical skunk on this issue just makes it easier to dismiss him as he deserves.

  16. I see anti-immigrant people publicizing deplorable actions by the Mexican government all the time. My question is, so what?

    I’m as open borders as they come (free movement with a health exam rider for all) and I often bring this up. I bring it up in conversations about the Mexican government’s actions and words in this situation. Hypocrisy is pervasive and deserves to be called out no matter the situation.

  17. Ever read about history, Jennifer

    And the avalanche of links from Jersey continues!

  18. Anyone who thinks the US oligarchy wants a clean and well-run Mexico is a frigging idiot.

    JMJ

  19. Ever read about history, Jennifer, or do you just watch Fox News and American Idol and take it from there?

    I can say with all honesty: this is the first time I’ve ever been accused of getting all, or any, of my info from Fox News.

    The reason America is to blame for every single thing wrong with Mexico is this: not only did we steal half their country 170 years ago, we stole the half with the paved roads and indoor plumbing! Then, to make matters worse, we have CIA agents infiltrating the country and forcing the Federales to accept bribes in lieu of enforcing the law. Damn that CIA.

  20. George W Bush and Walmart executives fly down to Mexico in the middle of the night, put guns to the heads of rich Mexicans, and force them to embezzle from Pemex.

  21. We seemed to want a clean and well-run Europe after WWII. Ditto Japan. I think we might even want that in Iraq today. Why would Mexico be any different? It’s really quite simple–a rich Mexico with a strong middle class would be able to buy more stuff from us. Aside from any humanitarian motivations on our part for wanting a more liberal Mexico.

    I’m eagerly awaiting Jennifer’s response to the glove thrown in her face. . . .

  22. Okay, so explain to us “frigging idiots” (1) how it’s All Our Fault, and (2) how it benefits the “oligarchy” (can you even pronounce that, much less define it?) to have a corrupt Mexican gov’t.

    Really, some explanations, not just more spewage.

  23. Jennifer,

    In the comic book universe you call reality, perhaps what you said is true. In the real world, where life is far more interesting and complicated, our relations over the years with Latin America have almost invariably come to disasterous ends. That you are unaware of that is just plain sad.

    JMJ

  24. Jennifer,

    In the comic book universe you call reality, perhaps what you said is true. In the real world, where life is far more interesting and complicated, our relations over the years with Latin America have almost invariably come to disasterous ends. That you are unaware of that is just plain sad.

    JMJ

  25. Jennifer,

    In the comic book universe you call reality, perhaps what you said is true. In the real world, where life is far more interesting and complicated, our relations over the years with Latin America have almost invariably come to disasterous ends. That you are unaware of that is just plain sad.

    JMJ

  26. Guys, you shouldn’t even try with Jersey. See, you’re not in his league (at least that’s what he told me). No one is, I think. He’s a league unto himself. We should merely attempt to absorb his wisdom and let him go somewhere else to whore for attention–I mean educate all the others who are not in his league.

  27. Perhaps if we didn’t prop up sleazy dictatorships in Cuba, Mexico, Guatamala, Honduras, El Salvador, Chile….

    Get it?

    Friggin geniuses.

    JMJ

  28. Jersey, seriously: explain to me how America is responsible for the corruption endemic in the Mexican government. Yes, I know we’ve done nasty things in Latin America, but I want to know specifically how America is currently encouraging the Mexican government to treat Pemex as its own personal piggy bank, and forcing the Federales to be corrupt. Do we send death squads to kill any Mexican government officials who follow the law rather than consider themselves above it? Do we intercept Pemex money that’s supposed to be used to build infrastructure and divert it into secret Swiss bank accounts? What exactly do we do?

  29. Y’know, Les, if I saw anything remotely resembling wisdom – even demonstrably false “wisdom” – I might be satsified to do that… but instead, I see a bunch of name-calling (which, sure, I’ve descended to myself… he provokes me), and slogan spouting.

    Nothing like any true exposition of the “history” he invokes to back up his sloganeering.

  30. Hey Clean Hands

    “In the comic book universe you call reality, perhaps what you said is true. In the real world, where life is far more interesting and complicated, our relations over the years with Latin America have almost invariably come to disasterous ends. That you are unaware of that is just plain sad.”

    How’s that for some real explanation. You friggin idiot!

  31. Ranger Rick says “Do not feed the trolls”

  32. We’re propping up the government of Cuba!?

  33. On a side note, loved the Juan Gibson pic. He actually looks amiable and friendly as a swarthy complexion pundit.

    Big, Poofy hair looks less threatening on brunettes than blondes …

  34. Well, since I think JMJ just called Castro a sleazy dictator, I’ll have to give him half a point (out of a possible 10) on this one.

  35. i will be heading to mexico in a couple of weeks to discover first hand the depth of hypocrisy practiced by the government there.

    from my reporting station at the beach, i will think about what it would be like to inform people about this situation. note that i will not actually get up off of my investigative-lounger to communicate my findings. but i’ll give it a thought.

    then i will have a margarita.

    i love mexico.

  36. Jennifer, I assume he meant the Batista regime. Though I don’t know that we’re entirely to blame for the abuses in Cuba. And I think we supported Castro for a while, too (before he was in power, that is).

  37. Jennifer,

    Your wasting your time if you think Jersey will actually answer you with facts and logic. His style is to call us names and tell us how stupid we all are!

  38. Jennifer, I assume he meant the Batista regime. Though I don’t know that we’re entirely to blame for the abuses in Cuba. And I think we supported Castro for a while, too (before he was in power, that is).

  39. Jersey likes to spew some talking points from The Little Marxist or something, but when it comes time to actually explain to anyone who asks why they are wrong and he is right, he’s got nothing.

    See, I’m not a master debater, nor am I the most well-read and highly educated poster on here, so I normally keep my mouth shut and just try to listen to more knowledgable people.

    The one good thing I can say about JMJ is that I get to read everyone else shooting his rantings to pieces.

    But I still think he’s one of the Reason staffers.

  40. Jennifer, I assume he meant the Batista regime. Though I don’t know that we’re entirely to blame for the abuses in Cuba. And I think we supported Castro for a while, too (before he was in power, that is).

  41. i believe he’s referring to pre-castro days. he may also be dipping into his own private stash of [insert noun here].

    anyhoo, i’m with joe on this one: so what? heads of state say all sorts of stupid shit, and fox is no exception. the important thing is federal immigration policy, not what the jackanape pundits are saying.

  42. Clean Hands,

    Yeah, I was trying to be sarcastic. I was warned not to respond to his religious bigotry with reasonable questions, but I didn’t heed the warnings and had to suffer the consequences.

    Jersey is mostly a sad little reactionary, who, despite the fact that absolutely nobody here has any respect for him, feels the need to hang out and yell stupid things and then call people names when they ask him to justify his childish positions. I actually feel kinda sorry for the little guy.

  43. Jennifer,

    “…explain to me how America is responsible for the corruption endemic in the Mexican government.”

    That’s a pretty broad assertion. I never said that. But certainly we have not done much to assist with cleaning it up. As for the Death Squads, we may not be responsible for the Mexicans (well, some of them, perhaps) but we sure know how to make them for other countries. Ever heard of the School of the Americas? Ever wonder why Robert Torricelli was such a big target for the Right? We are their numero uno trade partner. Certainly we could do more to help them on their feet.

    “We’re propping up the government of Cuba!?”

    Batista, goofette. And look what that got us! Castro.

    JMJ

  44. …our relations over the years with Latin America have almost invariably come to disasterous ends…

    This is Received Wisdom? I see a statement of assumed facts, which I suppose I’m willing to accept – US relations with Latin American gov’ts have been messy on a pretty regular basis – but no data to demonstrate that this was either due to a concerted effort on our part, or in any way to anyone’s benefit.

    Since Joiky seems to have abandoned the field in favor of spouting abuse and slogans, I’ll take a whack at it:

    The majority of Latin America has a very different history from the US (and even Canada) in terms of its colonial period and dissolution of colonial links. Where the US underwent a revolution based on the theory of how government should work, Latin American revolutions were based just on who should govern.

    This left the Latin American states, most of which struggled with the same issues of colonial vs. indigenous vs. slave conflict as did we, but without the framework of a liberal (classic liberal) theory of governance against which to resolve the issues. (Our resolutions are imperfect, and in part incomplete, but they’ve been vastly more successful than some.)

    In addition, without the benefit of a theory of governance based on personal and property rights, these states have been subject to a constant cycle of internal revolutions and civil wars.

    With Monroe Doctrine (1845), the US officially took the position that it would tolerate no meddling by Europe. The immediate assumption by modern leftists such as Joiky is that this means that we wanted to assume the imperial role for ourselves; however, the only time in which it was our stated foreign policy that we would intervene actively in Latin American affairs for only about 26 years – 1904 (T. Roosevelt) to 1930 (C. Coolidge).

    The Monroe Doctrine was cited in 1962 (J. Kennedy) as a justification for the Cuban blockade, but has not figured largely in our official actions in Latin America since then.

    Our less official actions (taking out Noriega, our ham-handed attempts to “help” in Haiti, etc.) have appeared to be driven more by humanitarian urges than imperialistic, at least in my interpretation.

    Our unnofficial backing of the Contra rebels against the Sandinistas (who remain darlings of the Left) was probably also based along Monroe Doctrine lines, as it was felt that the Sandinistas were in place largely due to Soviet intervention.

    In any event, all of this long, sad history still does not explain (to my lights, at least), how the US is to blame for a culture of corruption and a generally weak rule of law throughout much of Latin America.

    We do not write Mexico’s laws; we do not pass their budgets; we do not make their policy decisions. These are the things that fuel poverty and lawlessness south of the Rio Grande. In his blind hatred of all things U.S., Joiky cannot see this, which is a pity.

  45. As for the Death Squads, we may not be responsible for the Mexicans (well, some of them, perhaps) but we sure know how to make them for other countries. Ever heard of the School of the Americas?

    Yes, I’m familiar with the School of the Americas and the many nasty things we’ve done in South America. But my question specifically asked about Mexico: how are we responsible for their corrupt government? What exactly have we done to make it corrupt?

    Or, try this question: how do you propose we fix it? Shall we send in the Army to affect “regime change”? Take out any Mexican officials we don’t like and replace them with guys more to our taste?

    goofette

    Jersey, I don’t know what junior-high-school debate teacher told you that kindergarten name-calling was an effective debating technique that would win folks over to your side and earn you the respect of your adversaries, but that teacher totally lied to you.

  46. i believe he’s referring to pre-castro days. he may also be dipping into his own private stash of [insert noun here].

    anyhoo, i’m with joe on this one: so what? heads of state say all sorts of stupid shit, and fox is no exception. the important thing is federal immigration policy, not what the jackanape pundits are saying.

  47. Larry A, I don’t see pro-immigration folks doing “it,” “it” being advertising the bad acts of the Mexican government to further their position on American immigration policy.

    fyodor, I don’t think Dave Weigel is making an anti-immigration point. I think he’s drawing attention to an anti-immigration point made by someone else, without comment.

    Goiter, I agree. But whenever I see Lonewacko or Hugh Hewitt or any other right wing immigrant basher bring up the issue, they present it as a reason to get tough on immigrants, not just as a general anti-hypocrite point.

    RC, “And the opinions of the Mexican government on how we should run our country should be given exactly the weight we would accord any foreign government sticking its nose into our business.” OK, now I get it. It’s an ad homenim. Vincente Fox makes certain logical and values arguments about American policy. We should avoid consideration of these arguments on their merits, because Vincente Fox is a Bad Man. Thanks for the clarification.

  48. Jennifer,

    “…explain to me how America is responsible for the corruption endemic in the Mexican government.”

    That’s a pretty broad assertion. I never said that. But certainly we have not done much to assist with cleaning it up. As for the Death Squads, we may not be responsible for the Mexicans (well, some of them, perhaps) but we sure know how to make them for other countries. Ever heard of the School of the Americas? Ever wonder why Robert Torricelli was such a big target for the Right? We are their numero uno trade partner. Certainly we could do more to help them on their feet.

    “We’re propping up the government of Cuba!?”

    Batista, goofette. And look what that got us! Castro.

    JMJ

  49. “Vincente Fox makes certain logical and values arguments about American policy. We should avoid consideration of these arguments on their merits, because Vincente Fox is a Bad Man. Thanks for the clarification.”

    oh for fuck’s sake, joe. why must you always screw up my love for you with silliness?

  50. O, High Priest of the Church of Jersey!

    Enlighten us, we poor friggin’ moron goofs and goofettes.

    We beseech thee, tell us how to fix corruption in the Mexican gov’t.

    And end world hunger.

    And bring about world peace.

    Can I ask for a pony, while we’re at it?

  51. Pig,

    Are all people who move to another city to get a better job the equivalent of theives?

    What, pray tell, are Mexican immigrants doing that puts them on the moral level of those who steal other people’s property?

  52. My opinion about immigration reform has absolutely nothing to do with what the Mexican government wants. Is this just an attempt to Mexicans look bad, or is there some connection I’m not making?

    If free immigration is good for the United States (and I believe it is), shouldn’t it be good for Mexico and for the same reasons?

  53. Ken,

    Yes. But once again, I don’t see this argument deployed as a reason to liberlize Mexico’s immigration laws, but as a reason not to liberalize ours.

  54. PM, it’s interesting that you should cite Carnegie. He came here as a very low-end laborer, working in a textile mill.

    Similarly, Andy Grove did not arrive here as a highly-skilled electrical engineer; his family escaped the Hungarian Revolution (illegally, btw), and took advantage of the freedom they found here to educate Mr. Grove.

    Under current law, if Umang Gupta were Mexican, even with his chemical-engineering degree, he would not have been welcome to immigrate.

    I’m not arguing that we don’t have the right as a nation to decide who may and may not immigrate; of course we do. I’m arguing that the current means of making those decisions are inherently unjust, and have roots in racism.

  55. dhex,

    RC’s argument isn’t “we should ignore what Fox has to say about our immigration policy because he’s a hypocrite and a foreigner?”

    What, pray tell, do you think his argument is?

  56. fyodor, I don’t think Dave Weigel is making an anti-immigration point. I think he’s drawing attention to an anti-immigration point made by someone else, without comment.

    Then you entirely miss the point. Pointing out Fox’s hypocrisy is simply not inherently “an anti-immigration point” to begin with. I think Weigel’s point, as evidenced in his 1:55 comment post, is that there is anti-immigration sentiment in Mexico too, there too it is a bad thing.

  57. joe: that fox is engaging in opportunistic grandstanding for the sake of domestic political points?

  58. As a quasi-legal resident of Mexico, I must weight in.

    Mexicans treat Central American migrants in a shameful fashion. Take any bus bound for the northern border and the immigration police climb aboard looking for migrants. Once in Mexico, Central Americans are preyed upon by criminal gangs and crooked cops.

    As for the Mexicans who go north; they’re nobodies – people taken advantage of and neglected. But once they leave, they become “Heroes” a cause for Mexican authorities.

    I’m in immigration limbo, but at least the people in the local IMN office seem a lot more friendly and helpful than their U.S. counterparts. Funny, but as a Canadian, it’s easier for me to become legal here than in the U.S.

  59. however, the only time in which it was our stated foreign policy that we would intervene actively in Latin American affairs for only about 26 years – 1904 (T. Roosevelt) to 1930 (C. Coolidge).

    Well, our policy throughout the Cold War was to intervene actively in Latin American affairs, whether it was stated policy or not.

    We helped to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954 and then provided the military dictatorship there with financial and military assistance as they murdered dissidents for the next 40 years. Similar situation in Chile. We provided the totalitarian dictatorships in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador with military and financial aid as they did the same.

    I don’t consider the Sandinistas to have been anything remotely resembling a good government, but that can’t possibly justify our funding and training the Contras, who were terrorists, pure and simple.

  60. dhex, “that fox is engaging in opportunistic grandstanding for the sake of domestic political points?”

    Perhaps there’s a browser problem, because the argument I read stated, “And the opinions of the Mexican government on how we should run our country should be given exactly the weight we would accord any foreign government sticking its nose into our business. The fact that Fox is a hypocritical skunk on this issue just makes it easier to dismiss him as he deserves.”

    You will note that this passage contains two references to ignoring what Fox has to say. One of them tells us we should ignore what he has to say because he’s from another country. The other says we should ignore what he has to say because he’s a hyprocrite.

  61. fyodor, “Pointing out Fox’s hypocrisy is simply not inherently “an anti-immigration point” to begin with.” No, it’s not. That’s what I said in my very first post, that doing so is wholly irrelevant to the issue of our immigration policy.

    My observation was that a large number of people point out this hypocrisy as a reason to oppose liberalizing immigration laws, while I don’t see the connection.

  62. Cleanhands,

    You can have a pony, but you can’t have world peace or a clean government in Mexico. On the other hand, if you ride a donkey into Jerusalem, perhaps you can have the Kingdom of Heaven!

    “Well, our policy throughout the Cold War was to intervene actively in Latin American affairs, whether it was stated policy or not.

    We helped to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954 and then provided the military dictatorship there with financial and military assistance as they murdered dissidents for the next 40 years. Similar situation in Chile. We provided the totalitarian dictatorships in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador with military and financial aid as they did the same.”

    Thank you, Les.

    JMJ

  63. Still, though, Jersey refuses to answer my questions concerning how we’ve made Mexico corrupt or how we should solve that problem. Imagine my surprise.

  64. Les, I’ll conceed freely that we propped up lousy gov’ts in Latin America during the course of the Cold War. However, I have a hard time seeing that as imperialism or hegemony — it seems to have been reactive, trying to fight a rear-guard action against a very real and brutal Soviet threat.

    Now, without the Soviets breathing down our necks, we’re standing by and watching kleptocrats like Morales and Chavez take office without interference (despite Chavez’ insane rantings about CIA plots… which are probably Gospel to JMJ and his ilk).

    If this is how we run our empire, we’re not doing a very good job of it. 🙂

  65. Oh, goody! I get a pony! Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!

    When shall I expect delivery from your International Commerce Conglomerate?

  66. The Soviet Union intervened in the Baltic Republics, Poland, Hungary, etc. They murdered dissidents, threw people into gulags, plundered resources, etc at a rate that would make a School Of The Americas graduate look like a Peace Corps volunteer.

    Now, the Baltic Republics have higher growth rates than pretty much anywhere else in Europe. And Poland & Hungary are going OK, too. (If you grade them on a curve that includes Belarus & Moldava).

    But on the other hand, Latvia and Poland have lost to the USA at soccer in recent months; so maybe they would be better off if they went back to being colonies of Russia…….

  67. @joe

    Are all people who move to another city to get a better job the equivalent of theives?

    What, pray tell, are Mexican immigrants doing that puts them on the moral level of those who steal other people’s property?

    I have no idea. Now, show me where I ever equated those things.

    I don’t blame Mexican immigrants for trying to better their situation at all. I’d be doing the same thing if I were in their position. I simply state that it’s entirely our prerogative to qualify whom we allow into this country.

    Similarly, I don’t blame anyone for applying for any job they want. But it’s the prerogative of the employer to decide who they do, or do not accept, for whatever reasons they deem germane.

    The current cluster-fuck is the result of our mismanagement of immigration, not the fault of the aspiring immigrants.

    This is the third time I’ve attempted to post this, so if it repeats, I apologize.

    On second thought, if anyone knows of a system administrator swimming across the Rio Grande, have him send his resume to Reason. They need him more than I do. 😉

  68. Clean Hands, I tend to agree. But I don’t think the Sandinistas would have been a real threat (and they did hold very well observed, free and fair elections in 1984, which we responded to with increased support of the terrorist Contras). I think we could have “won” the Cold War without brutal, amoral, cowardly, and, as usual, inept policies. If we’d spend those 50 years implementing an honest (but strong) foreign policy that respected the rights of individuals and sovereign nations, I think the Soviets would have fallen even sooner than they did.

  69. Clean Hands, I tend to agree. But I don’t think the Sandinistas would have been a real threat (and they did hold very well observed, free and fair elections in 1984, which we responded to with increased support of the terrorist Contras). I think we could have “won” the Cold War without brutal, amoral, cowardly, and, as usual, inept policies. If we’d spend those 50 years implementing an honest (but strong) foreign policy that respected the rights of individuals and sovereign nations, I think the Soviets would have fallen even sooner than they did.

  70. “Still, though, Jersey refuses to answer my questions concerning how we’ve made Mexico corrupt or how we should solve that problem. Imagine my surprise.”

    Jennifer, don’t be a simpleton (or worse). I don’t have all day to write a paper for you. Look it up yourself. Don’t be an incurious dolt.

    “Les, I’ll conceed freely that we propped up lousy gov’ts in Latin America during the course of the Cold War. However, I have a hard time seeing that as imperialism or hegemony — it seems to have been reactive, trying to fight a rear-guard action against a very real and brutal Soviet threat.”

    Anyone who believes that is an fool. Clean Hands must’ve read Bill Bennet’s new book of virtuous historical revision.

    “When shall I expect delivery from your International Commerce Conglomerate?”

    The container is on the way. (I hope they poked some holes in it!)

    JMJ

  71. Jennifer, don’t be a simpleton (or worse). I don’t have all day to write a paper for you. Look it up yourself. Don’t be an incurious dolt.

    Translation: I, Jersey, will make unfounded statements, and when asked to back them up will simply say “I don’t have all day to write a paper for you.” Nobody will be able to see through this; instead, everybody will be fooled into thinking that I, Jersey, really DO have all the answers, but just don’t have the time to explain them.

  72. joe: i may have made it prettier than it deserves to be, but i fail to see the problem with saying “hey, the mexican government, like all governments, is made up of swine and thieves. as such, they tend to engage in one activity while advocating a far different path, especially when commenting on the policies of other countries.”

    this isn’t to say that people aren’t using it in stupid ways, but i think we can safely dismiss mr. fox’s grandstanding on these issues as domestic politicking rather than something to do with reality.

    as one of those reality-based thingamabobs, i’m sure you can appreciate that.

  73. Vincente Fox makes certain logical and values arguments about American policy.

    Which arguments should be evaluated in light of the fact that Mr. Fox obviously doesn’t think enough of them to implement them in his own country.

    I’m not saying Fox’s “arguments” are wrong. I don’t care enough about what he thinks to actually reach a conclusion on whether he is right or wrong.

    I am saying I don’t really care to follow his policy prescriptions, because he is pursuing Mexican interests, not American interests.

    If you want to take advice from hypocrites have their interests, not yours, at heart, I suggest the Scientologists, or perhaps one of your wackier snake-handling fundamentalist cults.

  74. You poked holes in my pony? You sick bastard!

  75. If we’d spend those 50 years implementing an honest (but strong) foreign policy that respected the rights of individuals and sovereign nations

    One of the lessons that should have become evident over the last few years is that, in most of the world, you can either respect the rights of individuals, or you can respect the rights of sovereign nations, but you can’t do both, because most of the latter are in the business of violating the human rights of their subjects.

    In too many places, the best thing that can be done to advance human rights is to overthrow or otherwise disregard the sovereignty of the current rulers.

    So, which should we have done, Les? Respect the rights of the people, or of sovereign nations in which they live?

  76. Anybody else in favor of changing Jersey’s screen name to Napoleon Dynamite? Flippin’ idiots!

  77. If people only object to shoplifting because it’s illegal, why don’t we legalize shoplifting so people can shoplift legally?

    Pig,

    Clearly, there are other reasons to object to shoplifting besides its illegality. I’ve never heard anybody argue that shoplifting should be permitted with impunity, but I would imagine that if anybody did, very few people would counter that argument with “But it’s illegal.”

    Sadly, this is how many people respond to arguments about immigration. They insist that they have no problem with immigration, but just want to crack down on ILLEGAL immigration, ignoring that the best way to reduce illegal immigration is to allow more legal immigration.

  78. I dunno, R C. Do we have to, as a matter of gov’t policu, actively overthrow or violate the sovereignity of dictatorships?

    I don’t have an objection to a policy of refusing to actively support dictators, but to undertake State action to undo dictators does not naturally follow.

  79. I hereby declare Pax Americana. Thus, all nations are now merged into the United States of America and must comply with federal and Constitutional law. Formal admission to the Union may be applied for at any time for U.S. territories that wish to get the rights and representation of states.

    We have spoken.

  80. Folks like Jersey and Les seem to have forgotten that, by the mid-70s, the Soviets or their proxies were a lot closer to global domination than we like to remember.

    They had Eastern Europe firmly in hand, they had active and pretty successful movements throughout Western Europe, such that the detente and mutual accomodation was the order of the day. Their proxies were aggressively successful in Africa and South America.

    They (and we) had every reason to believe that the tide was running in their direction, and it wasn’t running their way because they were playing nicer than us. Quite the contrary.

  81. That was pretty good, Jennifer. You mind if I use that in the future?

  82. Do we have to, as a matter of gov’t policy, actively overthrow or violate the sovereignity of dictatorships

    Of course not.

    I don’t have an objection to a policy of refusing to actively support dictators

    That’s all it takes for the dictators to stay in power indefinitely.

    If we adopt a strict policy of allowing people who engage in gross violations of human rights to carry on without any interference by us, well, it gets pretty hard to say we really give a crap about human rights, doesn’t it?

    I’m just saying you can’t have it both ways. I’m pretty comfortable with a kind of weak isolationism, where we have a pretty hands-off policy as long as the other guy isn’t threatening us or supporting those who do.

  83. So, which should we have done, Les? Respect the rights of the people, or of sovereign nations in which they live?

    I reject the notion that the two are always mutually exclusive or that we had to do one or the other all the time. We should have and could have done both by not:

    – overthrowing democratically elected governments.

    – upplying totalitarian regimes with financial and military support as they murdered dissidents.

    – providing training and funds to terrorist organizations like the Contras.

    A foreign policy which exluded those activities would empowered the U.S. in its fight against communism by making the differences between us apparent.

  84. My observation was that a large number of people point out this hypocrisy as a reason to oppose liberalizing immigration laws, while I don’t see the connection.

    And I agree with that, which I indicated from the start. And I think Weigel likely agrees as well.

    But we shouldn’t be afraid to point out Fox’s hypocrisy. Let’s just hope that to whatever degree such an observation has an effect, it effects a resolution in favor of favoring freer immigration for both nations.

  85. R C Dean makes a good point. It’s a little too easy to engage in hindsight about the Cold War. Certainly, the U.S.S.R. wasn’t playing fair, and we might have had a different result historically if we’d done nothing. I’m on record as being unhappy with much that we did during the period, but I’m not sure that things were so black and white that we could have faced off the Soviets by only supporting those who were pure of heart. I’m not advocating realpolitik, but I’m acknowledging that those were tough times. Even Vietnam may have been necessary on a strategic level, tactical disaster that it turned out to be. Probably, the best course would’ve been to have applied more pressure on the bad guys we were forced to support to be less vicious, but who knows how effective such pressure would’ve been?

  86. They (and we) had every reason to believe that the tide was running in their direction, and it wasn’t running their way because they were playing nicer than us. Quite the contrary.

    Are you suggesting we might not have come out on top if we hadn’t supported terrorists and mass murderers?

    So when is terrorism okay, RC? When it’s against (democratically elected) governments that aren’t anti-communist? When is it okay to give a mass murderer ammunition? When he’s murdering people who might not be anti-communist?

    Are you actually arguing that it was okay for the U.S. government to support terrorists and overthrow democratically elected governments and help totalitarian dictators murder dissidents because the Soviet were close to, somehow, taking over the whole world? Please tell me that’s not what you’re arguing and help me understand.

  87. Certainly, the U.S.S.R. wasn’t playing fair, and we might have had a different result historically if we’d done nothing.

    That’s a false choice. We could have worked in good faith with countries we had disagreements with. We do it all the time.

  88. And I agree with that

    I meant that I agree that there’s no connection to draw between the Mexican government’s hypocrisy and what immigration policy should be.

  89. Folks like Jersey and Les seem to have forgotten that, by the mid-70s, the Soviets or their proxies were a lot closer to global domination than we like to remember.

    Well, certain people (in both parties) liked to make it appear this way, the better to scare people into (a) voting for them and (b) allowing a frightening buildup of money and power in the hands of the military and arms merchants. In fact, the Soviet Union was always an unsustainable economic basket case and the “Soviet bloc” was not terribly monolithic outside of a few Eastern European states.

    One could easily argue the opposite, RC: if we hadn’t made it so easy for the Soviets to paint us as the ally of retarded, authoritarian bullies around the world, their house of cards would have fallen a lot faster than it did.

  90. The Soviet Union was so close to world power in the mid-70s that it fell apart 15 years later. Gotcha.

    ObTopic: Vincente Fox is wrong about Central American migrants. Should we be wrong, too, just to spite him? That sounds like profoundly stupid policy (I expect a congressional resolution tomorrow). Should we be wrong to send him a message? What would that message be, exactly?

    – Josh

  91. Clean Hands wrote: “trying to fight a rear-guard action against a very real and brutal Soviet threat.”

    Just curious and not trolling…is there a “but there was a Cold War to fight” Godwin rule? When one, either out of frustration or intellectual weariness, invokes the Soviet threat as a blanket excuse for every policy decision before the 1990s, can we call bullshit like we can when Nazi comparisons are made?

    I think that in the interest of Cathy Youngesque fairness and balance, there should be a Godwin rule for this type of slant.

    Discuss.

  92. My point is that things weren’t so cut and dried during the Cold War. To the leaders of the time, they may have felt that they only had two evils to choose from. I personally think we had other options and could’ve taken a higher road than we did, but I can’t claim the absolute knowledge necessary to say that I couldn’t be wrong. The oppression and ruthlessness that might have arisen without our intervention could very well have been worse.

  93. Probably, the best course would’ve been to have applied more pressure on the bad guys we were forced to support to be less vicious, but who knows how effective such pressure would’ve been?

    Why were we “forced” to support them? Because the communists would have taken over? They took over in Nicaragua and the people kicked them out 10 years later. The dissidents we were helping to kill in Chile took over and they’re not communists. The dissidents we were helping to kill in Guatemala took over and they’re not communists. Same thing in Angola and East Timor. I think we were more frightened of communism than we needed to be.

  94. The Soviet Union was so close to world power in the mid-70s that it fell apart 15 years later. Gotcha.

    Ask the French and the Germans whether that’s a valid argument. So close, but so far–the story of many a want-to-be empire.

    I’m not using the Cold War to justify anything, personally. We could’ve behaved better. Maybe we should’ve. I wish humanity behaved more rationally and with better intentions. But it doesn’t, so good people sometimes do bad things. And, of course, some of our people weren’t so good and did, in fact, take advantage of the Russian bogeyman to do some pretty nasty things. Lord knows what sort of crap we did that will never come out.

  95. Pro, I definitely don’t think of history in terms of black and white and I know that leaders have all kinds of complex, difficult decisions to make.

    That said, I don’t think it’s self-righteous or a matter of hindsight to believe that:

    1 – terrorism is wrong and should not be engaged in.
    2 – overthrowing democratically elected governments that haven’t attacked us is wrong and shouldn’t be engaged in.
    3 – an unelected government that murders dissidents shouldn’t receive the support necessary to stay in power and continue to murder dissidents.

    Now, whether you need to maybe spend some money to get your candidate elected, even if it might violate certain laws, sure, I can see the nuance there, how one might err on the side of getting your man in office to prevent an unfriendly opponent/political party from gaining power. But mass murder and terrorism aren’t nuanced things.

  96. Pro, sorry to ramble. I can see from your posts that we’re agreeing more than disagreeing. I’m mostly trying to understand RC.

  97. Oh, honestly, drowning, if you’d read the rest of my post, you’d’ve seen that I was not defending the tactics, but putting them into context.

    Or do you deny that the Cold War was a struggle with the survival of a free Western civilization at stake?

  98. The Soviet Union was so close to world power in the mid-70s that it fell apart 15 years later. Gotcha.

    Hindsight. 20/20. Counterfactuals. Armchair quarterbacking. Etc. blah blah.

    Its easy now to say we could have kicked back, cracked a cold one, and the Sovs would have fallen apart just the same. At the time, though, it certainly didn’t look that way, and I’m not so sure that the constant friction we introduced into their imperialism didn’t make a difference.

    I challenge anyone to produce a serious foreign policy analysis conducted during the ’70s that said the Sovs were on the verge of collapse, and we didn’t even have to engage in a policy of containment to keep their empire from expanding.

    Are you suggesting we might not have come out on top if we hadn’t supported terrorists and mass murderers?

    If we had dealt only with the pure of heart, we wouldn’t have had many allies, that’s for sure, and the Sovs would have been able to pick up more ground than they did before imploding.

    We could have worked in good faith with countries we had disagreements with. We do it all the time.

    Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And often, when it does work its because the amoral people who run those countries believe we are willing to do more than sip green tea and nosh on canapes if they don’t do what we want.

    if we hadn’t made it so easy for the Soviets to paint us as the ally of retarded, authoritarian bullies around the world, their house of cards would have fallen a lot faster than it did.

    More naivete. No one who rejected us because of the quality of our allies would have been willing to get into bed with the bloody-handed Soviets. Anyone who was honestly that squeamish could have only adopted a “pox on both their houses” position.

    No, the folks who sided with the Sovs did so for their own reasons, and the fact that US wasn’t lily pure just gave them some talking points for press releases, nothing more.

  99. If we had dealt only with the pure of heart, we wouldn’t have had many allies, that’s for sure, and the Sovs would have been able to pick up more ground than they did before imploding.

    I never suggested not “dealing” with them. I suggested it wasn’t necessary to help them to kill dissidents. Do you believe it was necessary for us to help them kill dissidents?

    Certainly, you can admit that supporting the terrorist Contras after the democratic election of the Sandinistas in 1984 was overkill (pardon the pun).

    …and the fact that US wasn’t lily pure just gave them some talking points for press releases, nothing more.

    Again, mere election rigging and propaganda campaigns would mean the U.S. “wasn’t lily pure.” Terrorism and murder means the U.S. became the kind of evil that it was supposed to be fighting.

  100. Les, I’m not saying we couldn’t have done some things differently, taken a more laid back approach and still come out on top.

    I do think, however, that at the time it was anything but clear that this would be a winning strategy.

    This made the decision was made to contest the advance of the Soviet empire wherever we could pretty much the only valid strategy short of simply giving over big chunks of the planet to Soviet hegemony.

    And once the decision to contain the Soviets was made, choosing to ally only with the pure of heart would pretty much negate that decision everywhere except, perhaps, Western Europe.

    It would be nice to say we should never interfere with a democratically elected government, but what if those elections were the product of manipulation by Soviet fronts?

    It would be nice to say we should never support a government that outlaws certain dissident groups, but what if those dissident groups were Soviet fronts?

    I’m sure all the decisions made during the Cold War weren’t the right ones, but I don’t think it was quite as simple or easy as many here would seem to believe.

    Ask yourself this: One generation on, which third-world countries are better off – those where American-backed governments prevailed, or those where the Communists won, if only for a little while.

    Would you rather live in Costa Rica, or Cuba?

  101. RC,

    “I don’t care enough about what he thinks to actually reach a conclusion on whether he is right or wrong.”

    Ditto. Whether Vincente Fox or somebody who works for him said something or wrote something doesn’t matter.

    But at the same time, if an argument is sound, that Vincente Fox or somebody who works for him may have also made that argument doesn’t matter, either.

  102. RC Dean,

    Funny you should mention Costa Rica. When the leftish president of Costa Rica produced a regional peace plan, he was denounced by your…your…your ILK as a commie-symp who would hand over the region to the Soviets.

    Of course he was nothing of the sort, and our determination to treat him and other like him as such actively set back our efforts to resist the Soviets.

    The bottom line to me is, we spent the Cold War responding to democratic movements and regimes as if they were the enemy, simply because they stood in opposition to the inhumane feualism of the Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Hondoran, and Guatemalan regimes. Siding with those monsters, and against the democratic (or potentially democratic) popular movements that resisted them could have been done in complete consistency with our own republican, democratic, liberal values. But because our political elites had business relationships with those monsters, we cast our honor and values aside to protect the nun-rapist thugs, and drove the movements that should have been invoking Thomas Jefferson into the arms of the Soviets.

    Fortunately, events in the “Third World” turned out to be wholly irrelevant to the Soviet Union’s collapse, and our immoral, idiotic reactionism didn’t do us, or our cause, too much damage.

  103. “The bottom line to me is, we spent the Cold War responding to democratic movements and regimes as if they were the enemy”

    You’ve probably heard this 669 times before, but for the 670th time, democracy is Argumentum ad Popularum.

  104. R C,

    I’m not saying we couldn’t have done some things differently, taken a more laid back approach and still come out on top.

    I do think, however, that at the time it was anything but clear that this would be a winning strategy.

    But please remember I’m not saying we should have “taken a more laid back approach.” I’m saying we should have not helped murder dissidents and not supported terrorists. Being moral, being just, does not equal being laid back.

    This made the decision was made to contest the advance of the Soviet empire wherever we could pretty much the only valid strategy short of simply giving over big chunks of the planet to Soviet hegemony.

    It’s absolutely, demonstrably false to suggest the only alternative to supporting terrorists and helping to murder dissidents is to give “over big chunks of the planet.” Fighting a war of any kind does not require the targeted murder of civilians.

    And once the decision to contain the Soviets was made, choosing to ally only with the pure of heart would pretty much negate that decision everywhere except, perhaps, Western Europe.

    Again, as I’ve repeated, I’m not arguing that we should have allied ourselves “only with the pure of heart.” I’m arguing that we should not have helped them to murder their dissidents.

    It would be nice to say we should never interfere with a democratically elected government, but what if those elections were the product of manipulation by Soviet fronts?

    Then the Soviets would have been justified in overturning elections that were the product of manipulation by U.S. fronts. But there’s no evidence whatsoever that the elections in Guatemala or Iran in the 1950’s were produced by Soviet manipulation. Certainly there was no manipulation in Nicaragua in 1984, but that didn’t stop us from sponsoring terrorism there afterwards.

    It would be nice to say we should never support a government that outlaws certain dissident groups, but what if those dissident groups were Soviet fronts?

    Again, I’ve not complained about “outlawing certain dissident groups.” I’ve complained about rounding up the members of the these groups and torturing and murdering them. Certainly some groups were Soviet fronts, but the dictatorships we helped didn’t discriminate.

    I’m sure all the decisions made during the Cold War weren’t the right ones, but I don’t think it was quite as simple or easy as many here would seem to believe.

    I am not a radical. I don’t believe that the U.S. is an evil empire. I am frustrated by knee-jerk leftists who do. But I reject the idea that it’s difficult to decide whether or not terrorism is okay. I reject the idea that it’s difficult to decide whether or not murdering political dissidents is okay. It’s very easy to know that both things are always wrong. It was easy then to know it, too, but those in charge rationalized their way out of anything resembling morality in their thought processes.

  105. But because our political elites had business relationships with those monsters, we cast our honor and values aside to protect the nun-rapist thugs, and drove the movements that should have been invoking Thomas Jefferson into the arms of the Soviets.

    Since the ’80s, I’ve revised my views on our policy in Central America–partially due to your comments here; still, I don’t remember being given that as a reason to protect nun-rapist thugs.

    I’d submit for consideration Idi Amin, who, I believe, we treated the way joe might have had us treat other dictator-thugs. Might things have gone better in Uganda with Idi Amin under our patronage? …I don’t think they could have gone much worse.

    What about Pakistan today, joe? If Musharraf got really nasty, would you have us kick him out of bed? If we, someday, have to beat a strategic retreat from Afghanistan, might you be willing to look past what might be going on in Uzbekistan?

  106. Hmmm, what was that a wise man once said about foreign entanglements?

  107. “Oh, honestly, drowning, if you’d read the rest of my post, you’d’ve seen that I was not defending the tactics, but putting them into context.
    Or do you deny that the Cold War was a struggle with the survival of a free Western civilization at stake?”

    Short answer…Yes.
    Slightly longer answer…If the Cold War had anything to do with “free Western civilization”, we wouldn’t have installed and maintained so many Pinochets, Somozas, Trujillos, Videlas, Galtieris, Hussiens…I’ll stop now. Whatever the fuck this “free Western civilization” hallucination is, maybe you ought to try to convince all of the people who had their testicles fried based on our logistical and material support of its existence.

    Me, I’ll invoke Pinko Godwin everytime this stupid meme is propagated.

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