Was Obama’s new ambassador to Mexico picked to prevent state failure?

The New York Times reports, following the Mexican media, that Hillary Clinton’s visit to Mexico is in danger of being upstaged by concerns over Obama’s reported pick for ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual. Pascual, who is director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution and former ambassador to Ukraine, has written extensively about failed states ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
587404_090327_pascual2.jpg
587404_090327_pascual2.jpg

The New York Times reports, following the Mexican media, that Hillary Clinton's visit to Mexico is in danger of being upstaged by concerns over Obama's reported pick for ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual. Pascual, who is director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution and former ambassador to Ukraine, has written extensively about failed states and ran the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization under the Bush administration:

That could raise hackles among some Mexicans, who take umbrage at recent assertions by American analysts that drug-related violence has so destabilized Mexico that it is danger of becoming a failed state.

Pascual's views on state failure are state laid out in this 2005 Foreign Affairs piece (subscribers only) co-written with Stephen Krasner:

The New York Times reports, following the Mexican media, that Hillary Clinton’s visit to Mexico is in danger of being upstaged by concerns over Obama’s reported pick for ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual. Pascual, who is director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution and former ambassador to Ukraine, has written extensively about failed states and ran the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization under the Bush administration:

That could raise hackles among some Mexicans, who take umbrage at recent assertions by American analysts that drug-related violence has so destabilized Mexico that it is danger of becoming a failed state.

Pascual’s views on state failure are state laid out in this 2005 Foreign Affairs piece (subscribers only) co-written with Stephen Krasner:

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, weak and failed states pose an acute risk to U.S. and global security. Indeed, they present one of the most important foreign policy challenges of the contemporary era. States are most vulnerable to collapse in the time immediately before, during, and after conflict. When chaos prevails, terrorism, narcotics trade, weapons proliferation, and other forms of organized crime can flourish. Left in dire straits, subject to depredation, and denied access to basic services, people become susceptible to the exhortations of demagogues and hatemongers.

Most of Pascual’s work concerns post-conflict scenarios like Iraq and Afghanistan and doesn’t quite apply to Mexico’s current situation. I haven’t been able to find anything he’s written specifically on Mexico and he didn’t mention drugs or Mexico as major concerns in his Brookings “memo to the President.

It’ll be interesting to see if he shares the view, put forth by Niall Ferguson and Sam Quinones in the most recent issue of FP, that the Mexican state is in danger of being overwhelmed by a “criminal-capitalist insurgency.” His appointment does seem to indicate that the Obama adminsitration is taking that possibility seriously.

Photo: Brookings Institution

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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