Part of the problem that individuals have in understanding issues like the migrant caravan transiting through México is that there are complex national idiosyncrasies at play that are sometimes in opposition to each other. The national doctrines are driven by public policy agendas and national need. Some are generational in nature and others are recent doctrinal changes. America First is an example of national doctrine. George W. Bush’s “One-percent Doctrine,” aka “The Cheney Doctrine,” wherein the United States held the notion that if there was one percent chance of a danger to the country, the country has the right to respond, even outside of the world’s agreed standards of national norms, is also another national doctrine that drives how a country reacts to world events.

Donald Trump’s “America First” can be construed as a change in U.S. national policy in that takes the country away from outward looking philosophy to an inward looking one. However, traditionally, and over generations, the United States has kept its national policy of outward looking. After World War II, and because of the attack on Hawaii by Japan, the United States added the notion that it was better to fight its enemies as far away as possible instead of having to fight them on national ground. Hence, the war on communism and the various nation building experiments the United States has embarked upon. The United Nations and NATO are also part of America’s need to keep the fight as far away as possible, instead of close by.

The War on Drugs has also manifested this same philosophy in that it is better to attack the drug problem in Colombia, or México, for example, instead of dealing with it locally. For Americans, the notion that wars are better fought off U.S. streets is a wonderful idea.

However, for the countries, like Vietnam or even Colombia and México (drug wars) the idea that America’s problems are paid for by the lives of their citizens creates animosity among the people who pay that price.

Each country has national policies that meets their specific needs. México’s foreign policy significantly began to evolve after Vincente Fox was elected in 2000. Prior to Fox, México maintained a strict policy of the nonintervention in the affairs of other nations. This doctrine became known as the Estrada Doctrine.

The Estrada Doctrine

The defining concept behind the Estrada Doctrine is that foreign governments should not judge the actions of other governments if those activities are internal in nature. For example, for many years, México argued that it was improper to judge Castro regime’s activities in Cuba as they were an internal matter for the Cuban people to decide among themselves. This led towards animosity with the United States when it came to international policy.

The Estrada Doctrine is credited to Genaro Estrada who was the Secretary of Foreign Affairs for Pascual Ortiz Rubio. On September 27, 1930, Estrada articulated México’s insistence that countries did not have the right to accept or reject any other nation’s government, regardless of ideology or internal strife. During this time, several nations were nation building while recovering from World War I. [Link to the Estrada Doctrine]

During that time, México and the United States had a tenuous relationship, at best, as the result of various unresolved issues between them, including México’s unresolved – it still affects the U.S.-México relationship – psyche of losing half its national territory and international intrigue brought on by the Zimmermann Telegram, wherein Germany tried to get México to open another war front on its nothern border.

From 1930 through 2000, México adhered strictly to the Estrada Doctrine as its national policy towards foreign affairs. Under Vicente Fox, México began to assert its right to define international policy, mostly through the United Nations. Fox, for the first time in Mexican history, publicly repudiated Cuba’s government. Fox also voted against the United States at the Security Council for its invasion of Iraq, thus infuriating George W. Bush.

Although México continues to try to move away from the notion of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries, it remains limited philosophically by the Estrada Doctrine. Both ministers of foreign affairs for Vicente Fox, Jorge Castañeda and Luis Ernesto Derbez attempted to do away with the Estrada Doctrine, allowing México to somewhat be more active in world affairs.

But it has come with a heavy price. Vicente Fox, in his book, “Revolution of Hope” wrote that the immigration reform offered by George W. Bush was scuttled after Bush was angered by México’s resistance to rubber-stamp Bush’s invasion of Iraq. To this day, immigration reform remains illusive and thus México is somewhat ambivalent when it comes to world affairs.

As a result, México somewhat kept its head down for a time on the international front.

However, that has not stopped México from continuing to move away from the Estrada Doctrine, most notably through its now frequent criticism of Cuba and México’s leadership in trying to resolve the Venezuela crisis.

When Americans talk about immigration, especially the notion that México should round up and deport immigrants from Central America, it is looking at the issue through the prism of the national policy of keeping problems far from its borders. To accomplish that, Americans want México and other countries to a proxy for U.S. policy.

México, on the other hand sees the problem as a problem the United States needs to deal with through its own national policy within its national borders. If immigrants are traversing México to reach the United States, then that is an American problem, not a Mexican one.

But, and here is the big but, as México tries to flex its international muscles in opining, and sometimes castigating other nation’s activities, i.e. imposing its world view on other nations, it understands that with it comes the necessity to cooperate with other nations, including the United States.

The drug violence in México poignantly brought this to the forefront.

Thus, México has entered into numerous agreements of national cooperation with the United States to benefit both nations. NAFTA was before the change of national doctrine, however, it is the engine that has allowed México the national resources to start looking outward, instead of inward. The Mérida Initiative and subsequent border and drug interdiction partnerships are part of México’ international awakening.

In addition to trade partnerships and the war on drugs, México has been cooperating with the United States in acting as a national terrorism buffer – keeping terrorists from using México as a launch point – and helping interdict would be immigrants in México before they reach the U.S.

Now, under the Donald Trump doctrine of chastising México and other countries, the cooperation is being destroyed, one tweet a time. For example, when Trump tweets it was his tweets that ended the migrant caravan, it is not only an outright lie, it further alienates those that want to cooperate with the United States for the benefit of both countries.

Note: You can get more information about The Estrada Doctrine and other national doctrines by visiting my exousia logocracy politikí (εξουσία λόγος κράτος Πολίτικη) project. Follow this link.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...