George Friedman: Mexico is not a Failed State

failed_stateA failed state read the headlines. Doom and gloom, Mexico was about to implode led the news cycles starting around 2008. A revolution as about to start south of the US border, it was just a matter of days. Fast forward to today and the notion that Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state is as idiotic today as it was then. The news reporters happily interviewed the dubious characters predicting Mexico’s failures because to lead with Mexico’s imminent demise was an easy sell for the US appetite for sensational headlines.

I understand that the news media has to attract eyeballs in order to stay in business. Eyeballs sell advertising and the more eyeballs the more financially stable the news outlet is. Most of the time when I am discussing the state of the news media with a reporter and news outlet executive the topic of tabloids leads to heated discussions about ethics in journalism. That discussion invariably leads to how blogging has destroyed the profession of the professional news outlet. I always counter that the demise of the newspapers and news outlets to Internet delivered news is a direct result of the failure of the traditional news outlets adhering to the basics of fair and ethical news reporting.

The demise of the traditional news media came about when sensationalism became the accepted practice rather than the exception. I don’t blame the so-called experts on everything drug cartel related because they are nothing more than individuals looking to make a quick buck by proclaiming themselves experts on the drug traffickers in Mexico.

The notion of the imminent failure of Mexico was started by information peddler George Friedman in May of 2008 with his self-serving, make-another-dollar opinion that was nothing more than another charlatan peddling his goods to those willing to buy. The problem with people like Friedman is that the news media is too happy to label them “experts” in order to ply their sensational headlines to their audience.

George Friedman’s company and raison d’ete is his company Stratfor. Stratfor peddles “strategic analysis” about geopolitics. In essence, the company has self-proclaimed itself as an expert in global security in order to sell its publications to individuals and governments. It peddles self-proclaimed expertise in security. The problem though is that their security “expertise” apparently doesn’t include their own operations because in 2011, the hacker group Anonymous broke into their systems. In February 2012, Wikileaks began publishing the stolen emails.

Friedman’s Stratfor has taken the position that you can’t trust the released emails because they will not confirm which ones are authenticate and which ones may be doctored after they were stolen. To me, this position is nothing more than a desperate attempt to discount the theft of their emails. Regardless, for a so-called expert on “security” the theft of their emails shows a distinct failure in their ability to protect themselves and thus the security of their clients.

For his part, George Friedman, born in Budapest Hungary is a former professor and now an author and owner of Stratfor. He peddles information to those willing to buy it. I am sure you are all aware of the famous phrase; “those who can’t, teach”. Most appropriate for Friedman.

A Failed State is generally defined as a country that has lost some or all control over its sovereignty. The fact is that Mexico, even at the height of the Mexican Drug War never relinquished control over its sovereignty. I am sure some of you will argue that there were and are pockets of criminality in Mexico that seem to surpass the government’s ability to maintain control. However, all of that rhetoric ignores a fundamental reality; a failed state has a failed economy and an ineffective government. So, let’s take a look at those two functions.

Has the Mexican economy faltered?

The World Bank ranks Mexico’s economy as the second largest economy south of the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande), behind Brazil. This month Moody’s rated Mexico as A3, the first time the country has received an “A” rating in its entire history. Keep in mind that the rating is derived from actions taken by two administrations under two different political parties.

I wish George Friedman would explain to everyone how it is that a country on the verge of collapse is able to attain an A rating for its economy. Somehow, I don’t expect he will, as it isn’t something he can sell to the news outlets and his subscribers looking for doom-and-gloom coming from Mexico.

Somehow, a country on the verge of collapse, according to George Friedman is on the road to becoming the United States’ number one automobile exporter this year. Again, how is it that a country on the verge of collapse continues to build enough automobiles to outpace Canada and Japan?

Clearly, the Mexican economy is not on the verge of collapse and therefore the country’s government is in full control. So, let’s a take a look at the transition of power.

On December 1, 2012, President Enrique Peña Nieto took office. Mexico had effectively transitioned power from one government to another. Former President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, who initiated the Mexican Drug War, democratically relinquished power in a transition from one party to another. Both US president Barack Obama and leftist president Hugo Chavez both agreed that the transfer of power was properly completed.

In other words, two opposing political ideologies both agreed that Mexico’s electoral process was completed properly under the law. In fact, Mexico has now transitioned power from one party, to another and back to the original party making Mexico a two-party country.

So much for the notion that Mexico was on the verge of collapse.

The problem of the drug cartels is a significant problem for Mexico but it is a geopolitical problem with many facets at work at the same time. For the most part Mexico has risen to the occasion and has demonstrated that far from being a failed state, it is in fact an economically growing country in full control of its sovereignty. As much as the naysayers want it to be, the facts are that Mexico is not some backwards country on the border holding the US back. Rather it is a country that the US should be proud to call a friend.

Unfortunately, for people like George Friedman and those who subscribe to his voodoo research the facts are just inconvenient things that should be ignored.