Essay Competition Winner Focuses on U.S.-Mexico Relations

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Richard Taylor

For a more secure United States, look to Mexico.

The winning entry from the 2014 Center for Homeland Defense and Security Essay Competition suggests the United States and Canada should recognize Mexico as an equal partner in defending the North American continent.

Richard Taylor of Colorado Springs, Colorado, penned the winning entry, titled “A Hemispheric Approach to Homeland Security: Bring Mexico Fully into the Fold.” Taylor is employed by the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (WJPC) as the Executive Liaison to US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). (Note: essayists in the competition write independently of their employing organization.)

The annual competition, now in its seventh year, strives to stimulate original thought on issues in Homeland Security and Homeland Defense.

This year’s winning composition suggests the U.S. has allowed its counter-narcotics strategy to consume other important security concerns for which its southern neighbor could play a critical role. He points to Western European nations that have formed alliances for common defense, questioning why Mexico has been generally absent during North America continental defense planning.

Historical and even language differences provide challenges to U.S.-Mexican military relations, Taylor noted. The U.S. military is perceived by many Mexicans to be a potential occupation force, he said, noting that nation’s navy and army still conduct exercises during professional military education based on invasion scenarios from the north.

And, language also plays a role into the differences. Such words as “partner,” do not translate well into Spanish, and other words used to convey the expression, such as “relation,” fail to conjure a connotation of equality.

“The single word ‘partner’ is a source of consternation every time it’s translated in a meeting between our militaries,” Taylor wrote.

To improve relations, U.S. officials must take care to promote the dignity in interactions with its neighbor as well as upgrading its military capacity. That could be achieved, for starters, by viewing Mexico as a partner on par with fellow G-20 nations, which consult on economic issues. Further, Mexico should be persuaded it is a needed partner with Canada and the U.S.; Mexico should be viewed by its potential partners for its overall role in security of the Western Hemisphere; and, recognize and identify steps that would be needed to improve relations. The latter might be accomplished, he writes, with a joint focus on humanitarian assistance, something at which the Mexican military excels.

Another positive step would be to include Mexico in a type of continental security arrangement similar to the Northern Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). An inclusion target date could motivate Mexican officials to be more amenable to working with its northern neighbors.

“With recent rapid evolution in the relationship between the militaries of the U.S. and Mexico, the time is right to take the gains and invest them in the next step: agreement of development of a long-term continental security arrangement,” Taylor concluded.

Taylor’s essay bested 62 others in the seventh annual competition. This year’s essay prompt was based on a quote from famed management consultant Peter Drucker: Peter Drucker emphasized the importance of continually challenging one’s assumptions. He said “Make yourself capable of doing this by building organized abandonment into your system. By asking yourself every few years, If we weren’t doing what we now do, would we want to start doing it? And if the answer is ’probably not,‘ then maybe it isn’t the right thing to do anymore.” How would you apply Drucker‘s guidance to homeland security?

Finalist included:

  • Ryan Burke, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware. “Out with the Old, In with the New: Embracing Dual Status Commanders in the Future of Homeland Defense and Security.”
  • Richard White, no address available. “Challenging Assumptions: Time to Redefine Homeland Security.”

The winning essay and the finalist essays are available at:

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