The United States and Mexico have long enjoyed a cordial relationship that has benefited both through billions of dollars in cross-border trade and diplomatic support within and beyond the Western Hemisphere. Any reasonable person recognizes the value if not the need to maintain that relationship.
So it’s disappointing that President Trump continues to pelt our southern neighbor with demands and threats.
The president on Wednesday issued a series of tweets regarding a recent confrontation between U.S. and Mexican military personnel.
“Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border,” Trump tweeted. “Better not happen again! We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!”
The missives apparently are a response to an incident earlier this month in which Mexican soldiers confronted U.S. soldiers in a remote area along the border. U.S. Northern Command, which oversees our military deployment to the border, attributed the incident to confusion over the location, which was in U.S. territory but south of the border wall.
The tweets follow other aggressive statements that include threats of adding even more tariffs against Mexican imports or scrapping the still-unratified North American trade agreement that also includes Canada if Mexico doesn’t behave the way our administration wants it to.
Asked about Trump’s bluster Wednesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was diplomatic, saying, “We are not going to fight with the government of the United States. The most important thing is that we want a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation for development.”
That’s the kind of approach most people expect from their top officials.
It’s certainly necessary with regard to the border; these kinds of incidents aren’t common, but neither are they unusual. Law enforcement officials, patrolling in the dark in remote areas or chasing suspected criminals, at times cross the border without realizing it. Occasionally, an officer in the heat of pursuit has followed a suspect across the bridge.
Such officers surely hold mutual respect for each other, but unfortunately, with smugglers at times donning in combat gear and “pseudo-cop” bandits dressing as police on both sides of the border, they still have to be on the alert, and they must do their jobs of defending their territory.
Confronting armed encroachment therefore is necessary, although they are sensitive matters that must be handled tactfully. Calling attention to obviously unintended confrontations is unnecessary, and rattling sabers over them is inappropriate.
Trump’s tweets might play to his supporters, but given their obvious loyalty, the president doesn’t need to make them — especially at the risk of damaging the relationships that only make both counties stronger.