How might Mexico go on offense against a hostile United States?
Alejandro Hope suggests six possibilities. Here they are, with some comments;
- Sanction: If the U.S. sanctions Mexico, Mexico should hit back with countervailing tariffs, procurement restrictions, and others. This strikes me, however, as a bad idea. If Mexico sticks with conventional retaliation, it would be entering a battle it can’t win. If it goes outside the box and starts doing things like invalidating U.S. copyrights or restricting profit repatriation, it would put its own international reputation at risk.
- Sue: Oh, yeah. Sue the Americans in U.S. courts on civil rights grounds, sue at the WTO and NAFTA panels, sue everywhere. If you win the international suits, you gain the ability to start sanctioning without the fear for your reputation. As for the domestic suits, well, see comments here: the Drumpf administration would be opening itself up to endless endless litigation.
- Organize: “The Mexican government should openly support all efforts by Mexican and Mexican-American communities to organize resistance within the United States. That could include initiatives that help Mexican-Americans register to vote and Mexicans with permanent resident status become S. citizens (and voters).” This strikes me as a very dangerous game, given the chance of provoking American public opinion. It is also very hard to carry out — the Mexican government has futilely tried before to mobilize Mexican-American opinion.
- Stop cooperating: This is the scary one for the United States, if not necessarily for a Drumpf Administration. I suspect that Mexico will continue to cooperate on organized crime, but not on migration.
- Build alliances: “There are significant interests in the United States that would be opposed to a protectionist and isolationist agenda.” This is great idea, but those opponents will mobilize regardless of Mexican efforts. I don’t think an active program is necessary, although there’s no reason not to either, since it’ll be low cost. On the other hand, it would make a lot of sense for Mexico to spend a lot of money on an public relations campaign aimed at explaining to the American public just how much Mexico cooperates on their behalf.
- Isolate them: “A sealed border, an assault on remittances or protectionist policies would not only hurt Mexico, but also most of Latin America. And that policy package would not find many friends either in Europe or Asia. In the event of Trump-led harassment, Mexico should take its case forcefully to multilateral bodies, such as the OAS and the UN. A Trump administration should be forced to pay a diplomatic cost for pandering to its xenophobic supporters.” This is exactly what H. suggested in more detail, and I think it would be devastating.
As Hope realizes, all of these actions are fraught with risk. But with the Mexican foreign minister calling Drumpf “ignorant and racist,” it certainly seems to be setting the stage for an active confrontation if the Donald becomes the 45th president of the United States.