Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s international agenda in the month of September has been emblematic of his foreign policy across his entire five years in office: ineffective, inconsistent and often invisible. That lack of focus is why AMLO has seen many of his foreign policy sorties simply fall to the wayside.
The election of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, in July 2018 was supposed to result in a radical transformation for Mexico. But since taking office in December 2018, AMLO has struggled to deliver on his campaign promises. After having to play catchup during his first two years in office to Donald Trump’s quixotic threats linking trade and immigration, he has more recently had to reboot relations with the U.S. under President Joe Biden.
Earlier this year, the global economy experienced an important milestone that, though it went largely unnoticed, scholars may look back on as a marker of the beginning of a new era, with economic but also geopolitical significance: For the first four months of 2023, Mexico surpassed China as the top trade partner of the United States.
For the current GOP candidates, calls for the U.S. to invade Mexico have the twin benefits of making them look tough while also potentially appealing to Republican voters in the Trump faction. But these calls also betray three sad truths about U.S. foreign policy generally, and Republican foreign policy in particular.