Plan Mexico?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made some sweeping statements in her speech last night at the Council on Foreign Relations. She spent much of her time defending the administration’s foreign policy in the face of criticism that there’s been a lot of talk but little progress on issues like the peace process. As many in the administration have done in the past, the secretary of state asked for patience, explaining that diplomacy takes time and results aren’t immediate. And Clinton said that we are in “a new American moment,” one that “must be seized - through hard work and bold decisions - to lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come.” Seemingly embracing an American role of global leader with open arms, as opposed to her approach last year that focused on a “multi-partner world,” Clinton called the U.S. center-stage role “both a responsibility and an unparalleled opportunity.”

But Clinton’s speech wasn’t all positive. She compared Mexico’s ongoing drug war with Colombia’s past experiences. The drug gangs, using tools like car bombs, are “morphing into, or making common cause with, what we would consider an insurgency in Mexico and in Central America.” And she said Mexico is “looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago, where the narco-traffickers controlled certain parts of the country.” Since President Felipe Calderon ramped up the drug war back in 2006, there have been 28,000 murders in the country, the latest a mayor in northern Mexico (the third mayor to be killed in less than a month).

Clinton referenced Plan Colombia, a program that sent U.S. troops into the country to work with the Colombian army in combating drug gangs. But Mexico has repeatedly been strongly opposed to any such program taking place on its soil. They see the root of the problem as the U.S. demand for drugs, so that should be the focus. And some Mexican officials believe Clinton’s comparison of Mexico and Colombia is laying the foundation for a potential intervention in Mexico.