Expanded CIA Role in Drug War Could Impact Mexican Election

With the U.S. expanding the role of CIA operatives and possibly private security contractors in Mexico's drug war, there were reports this week that both countries are intent on circumventing Mexican laws that prohibit foreign military and police from operating inside the country.

That Mexican President Felipe Calderón would openly embrace such a strategy is "not entirely surprising," says Hal Brands, a historian at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, who notes that Mexican laws have long left the country in an awkward position when it comes to seeking security assistance from its northern neighbor.

"The problem is that many American security partnerships around the world involve some sort of military-to-military interaction," Brands told Trend Lines yesterday. What's particularly prickly about the current alliance is that the barrier to such a partnership "is not just a legal one, it's a political one as well," said Brands. "Calderón may be able to finesse the issue of foreign military presence from a legal perspective, but the question is whether the solution he comes up with is going to be politically acceptable."

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