Oct 16, 7:24 PM |
By Peter Schechter
Writing on CNN, Altamar co-host Peter Schechter warns that if President Donald Trump is successful in approving funding to build a border wall with Mexico, he’s almost certain to put Jose Manuel Lopez Obrador into first place in the presidential race – and that’s an outcome that will not be good for the United States or Mexico. Excerpt below:
Mexican presidential elections are eight months away. Today, polls are showing Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, substantially ahead of all others, with former National Action Party leader Margarita Zavala running second. While some analysts say Mexico will never elect a leftist leader, Donald Trump is single-handedly changing that calculation.
If AMLO wins, all bets are off. It’s hard to overstate how damaging it would be to have antagonistic presidents on both sides of the Rio Grande. It’s a dynamic we haven’t seen in decades and one that would be quickly exploited by America’s rivals. It would also cast into doubt the strategically brilliant play that has been 25 years in the making: creating a globally competitive powerhouse by integrating North America’s economies.
But the importance of a strong partnership with Mexico isn’t just about the border or even the health of our increasingly integrated economies. It is also about the impressive security cooperation between our nations.
High levels of intelligence sharing have allowed for strong cooperation between our anti-narcotics and anti-terrorism forces. As it stands, Mexico actively pursues and interdicts threats to US security before they reach our borders, and rarely hesitates to extradite them to face justice in our court system. Mexico also stops tens of thousands of Central American migrants on its own southern border with Guatemala. These policies depend on the continued goodwill between our countries.
That goodwill is now in acute danger. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Trump threaten to withdraw from NAFTA using increasingly harsh language. We’ve seen him threaten to shut down the government as leverage to get funding for a border wall. And, once a disastrous hurricane season made that threat untenable, we saw the President use the fate of some 800,000 Dreamers — close to 80% of whom are from Mexico — as a bargaining chip for his beloved wall and a newfound hardening of immigration restrictions.
Peter Schechter works in both politics and policy. He served as the Atlantic Council’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives and previously co-founded a premier strategic communications company, working as a political campaign advisor in more than 20 countries. Muni Jensen is a former Colombian diplomat, columnist, and television political commentator.