It was a Mexican stand-off, and Joseph Westphal, the Army’s No. 2 civilian leader, backed down.
Make no mistake, the administration is wringing its hands over the possibility of destabilized Mexico — and so are the Mexicans. It looks like Westphal — former chancellor of the University of Maine system, political science professor — learned a sharp lesson in international diplomacy.
Westphal apologized for his “inaccurate statements” a day after suggesting American troops might have to fight drug gangs in Mexico, likening the gangs to an insurgency and calling Latin America a “strategic blind spot” for Washington.
“Maybe this is more of a personal opinion, but I’ve certainly shared with people at the White House — this isn’t just about drugs and about illegal immigrants,” Westphal said. “This is about potentially the takeover of a government by individuals who are corrupt and have a different agenda, and that would be, again, right on our border.”
“My statement also mistakenly characterized the challenge posed by drug cartels to Mexico as ‘a form of insurgency.’ My comments were not and have never been the policy of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government toward Latin America,” he said.
“I did not speak on behalf of the president, national security adviser, secretary of Defense or any other officials charged with establishing and articulating U.S. policy,” he added. “I regret that my inaccurate statements may have caused concerns for our partners and friends in the region, especially Mexico.”
If the U.S. sends troops to aid Mexico, count on it being more of a tiptoe than a march.[via CNN]