U.S. military deepening commitment to Calderon?

Brian Thompson

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An apparently deepening military relationship between the U.S. and Mexico “may or may not” involve military training outside the U.S., according to Pentagon spokesperson Commander Jeffrey Gordon.

“Generally we do the training here in the United States but, uh ... yeah ... I'm not going to discuss at this point ... I'm not prepared to discuss what training may be or may or may not be going on in Mexico,” he said.

A National Public Radio report today on intensifying violence in northern Mexico cites the training of Mexican commandos in anti-narcotics operations by American Special Forces.

Although welcomed by current Mexican President Felipe Calderon, the American military presence in Mexico has not always been viewed favorably. American military involvement there, such as General Pershing's 1916 hunt for Pancho Villa and the 1914 landings in Veracruz, created a backlash among some sectors of Mexican society, which led to constitutional prohibitions on foreign troops carrying weapons while on Mexican soil.

Sometimes these laws have led to odd encounters, such as a 2004 dispute at a Mexican-American soldier's funeral.

Buried in Guanajuato, Mexico, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Juan Lopez was killed in Iraq in 2004. However, the Marine honor guard at his funeral was not allowed to fire the traditional 21-gun salute, as local authorities feared that foreign troops armed with blanks would have violated Mexican law.

This deepening of American military ties with Mexico comes as the drug war in the northern part of that country intensifies, prompting fears of instability spreading into American border states. The U.S. State Department reported earlier this year of the danger of a potential mass migration north in the event of a collapse of the Mexican government.

On February 26, President Calderon rejected the notion that his government suffered from instability or that Mexico was on the verge of becoming a failed state. “To say that Mexico is a failed state is false,” said Calderon. “I have not lost any part â?? any single part â?? of the Mexican territory.”

It appears that this Administration is prepared to back Calderon's heightened crackdown on the cartels by all means necessary.