How easily could America imitate Russia and carve off a piece of Mexico, its crisis hit southern neighbour?
Barack Obama will be the first US president to have born and died under the same US flag; all previous presidents have had at least one star added during their lifetime as America expanded. What follows is an all too believable account of how America could use a crisis to get back into the annexation game.
Protests in Mexico City. The war on Mexico’s drug cartels is second only to the Syrian civil war in terms of bloodshed. Frustration at corrupt security officials siding with the cartels is combining with anger at a teetering economy. Mexico is dependent on its giant neighbour to the north as both an export market and as a source of remittances from the huge Mexican community over the Rio Grande, and the sluggish American recovery is holding back Mexican growth. Further adding to the conflagration are nationalists and radical leftists, condemning the current leadership as puppets of Washington which has always sought to dominate Mexico. For Mexico to prosper, they argue, it should look to the growing power of China, rather than the declining power of the US.
To outside observers in Washington, its business as usual, with generic speeches calling for calm, and the usual travel advice. However behind closed doors the situation in Mexico is being followed closely. Mexico is America’s third biggest source of oil, and the thousand mile long border is already non existent in parts thanks to a lack of will and resources on the Mexican side. The province peninsula of Baja California sits uncomfortably close to San Diego, the principal naval base on America’s West Coast and critical to power projection in the Pacific and East Asia.
Unrest in Mexico spreads to towns in the south most affected by the drugs war, almost certainly encouraged by local gangs seeking to capitalise on the current lack of central authority. In the north, radical students are roughing up American tourists and cars are set on fire on Monterey, a key transit route for trade over the border. As a precaution, and to head off hawks in Congress, the White House increases National Guard and border guard presence along the border, and dispatches another twenty marines to the embassy in Mexico City. China and Russia accuse the US of provocation and issue a joint statement calling on the outside world to let Mexico determine its own destiny. John McCain leads a chorus of US lawmakers and commentators furious that leaders from a continent away assume to dictate to the US in own backyard.
Shots are fired by masked gunmen in Mexico City and the president hasn’t been seen for days, leaving the loyal but timid Interior Minister to manage the crisis. Trading is suspended on Mexico’s stock exchange and a US steel maker suspends plans to buy a Mexican industrial park, citing current instability. A Chinese firm immediately steps in and commits to purchasing the plant. American oil workers in Baja California have taken to arming themselves, as the local police seem in league with a local nationalist mayor. Drug cartels have made a push into tourist hot spots, and are becoming the de facto authority across the south.
The Chinese foreign ministry holds a public meeting with Mexico’s ambassador in Beijing and gleefully announces a provisional agreement that would see Mexico become an associate member of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement. Rumours spread that in Moscow, Mexico’s ambassador is meeting with Russian defence chiefs. American outrage swells with both Republicans and Democrats demanding action. The US recalls its ambassador to Mexico in protest.
Mexico’s president, looking tired but stern, appears on TV and demands protesters leave occupied government buildings. Attempts at talks go nowhere as there seems no single group representing the various grievances can be found. Riot police in two provinces throw down their shields and join local protests, and oil terminals in the Gulf ports are at a standstill as port workers strike. The economy is now in free fall.
Seeing the writing on the wall, the president steps down and is rumoured to have fled to Nevada where he has strong business links. Across the country the reaction of local authorities oscillates between paralysis and crack down. Along the US border, Mexican guards demand ‘admin fees’ of two hundred dollars for American travellers. In Monterey, two American truck drivers are lynched by a local mob. The images of the dead men, with signs reading ‘Yankees Out’ around their necks spread throughout the world’s media in hours. Aghast at a seeming lack of action from the White House, self appointed and self armed ‘Patriot Defence Squads’ rush to Baja California and Monterey to protect Americans.
A new provisional leader is appointed by a revolutionary committee in Mexico, non other than the former ambassador to Russia. Charming, bilingual and well known to foreign governments, he is seen as the perfect face of a new, Eastward looking Mexico. China recognises the new government and accelerates trade group membership. Russia agrees to send military advisors to Mexico to restore order. As Cuban and Venezuelan leaders recognise the new government panic grips Congress. In the space of a month Mexico has gone from being a loyal proxy to a fulcrum for Russian and Chinese influence in the Western hemisphere. The White House orders the mobilisation of National Guard units in every border state, and gives the CIA and NSA carte Blanche to ‘fix’ the situation.
Given the scale of the challenge, Mexico agrees to Russian requests to deploy armoured cars and helicopters, with an option for jet fighters in the south. These would be in range of the Panama Canal. American anger hits fever pitch.
Baja California is now a battleground. The border has dissolved and thousands of Patriot Defence Squads fight running gun battles with Mexican gangs and the remnants of the local police. Mexican workers in the port of San Diego are viewed suspiciously, further fueling hostility. What remains of Baja California’s government declares independence for the peninsula in a hope to detach the province from Mexico, and so maybe end the source of the violence. Washington orders the US Army to occupy the Baja California, and make preparations for a referendum on the future of the territory. US forces would remain to oversee the vote, for security reasons…obviously.