Ex-envoy talks about Mexico’s U.N.-Iraq role
By Barnard R. Thompson
former ambassador to the United Nations, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, spoke on February 16 at the University of California, San
Diego, invited by the university’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies as a participant in its Distinguished Speaker’s
Series. In a two-hour lecture, Aguilar expressed his views (some more bent on
refashioning his own image and versions of history then truth it seemed) on the war in Iraq during his two-year stint at the
U.N., and its impact on U.S.-Mexico relations. He also said he is writing a book
on the subject.
a supposed leftist turned independent Mexican ex-congressman and senator, joined the transition team of President-elect Vicente
Fox in 2000, and when Fox took office on December 1 of that year Aguilar was appointed National Security Advisor. In early 2002 he was named Mexico’s ambassador to the U.N., a post he held until being told to step
down in late 2003 after making an innocuous yet imprudent remark before students in Mexico City.
United States has never viewed Mexico as a partner, the way it does with its European associates. They see us as a backyard….’ He said U.S. interest
in Mexico was akin to ‘a weekend love affair,’” according to the Miami Herald on November 19, 2003.
to Mexico as the backyard of the U.S. was all it took for Fox and his current foreign minister to remove Aguilar from his
that even before taking office Fox had decided to assume a more active role with the U.N., believing that Mexico was ready
to be part of major world decisions — a posture that Aguilar referred to as a “romantic idea.” What was not said was that former Secretary of Foreign Relations Jorge Castañeda and Aguilar, the two main
internationalists on Fox’s transition team, probably influenced the president’s position.
Nor did Aguilar
mention his then reported disappointment in losing the foreign ministry to Castañeda, although during his UCSD speech there
were occasions when one sensed a lingering animosity towards Castañeda.
2003, during the pre-vote debates in the U.N., Aguilar was a vocal critic of possible U.S. military action in Iraq. However he was careful to point out at UCSD that “I always followed instructions,” at the time
from both President Fox and Foreign Minister Castañeda.
As for that
whole U.N. debate regarding intervention in Iraq, Aguilar painted Mexico as a major player.
fear that if Mexico were to go along with the U.S. it would lose its independence, as well as look like a pawn of its northern
neighbor to fellow U.N. members and the world, Aguilar said that with respect to Iraq the Mexican government decided to follow
the French position and lead. And even though he did not say so directly, the
ex-ambassador gave the impression that this was a result of his personal proposals.
France was against any invasion of Iraq and the U.S. position, Mexico according to Aguilar expected the French to eventually
drop their opposition and come around to support the U.S. So the scheme was,
Mexico would support France, stay out of the crosshairs of U.S. public opinion and ultimately support the U.S. position, thus
saving face at the expense of the French.
Mexico was working behind the scenes with Chile to line-up nations against the U.S. position — apparently thinking that
France would keep them from ultimately getting burned, they suddenly realized that the French would not back down in their
opposition to invasion and war. According to Aguilar, “the French took
us for a ride.”
On a timelier
basis, Aguilar criticized the Fox administration’s recent withdrawal of an invitation to Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami-Ardakani to visit Mexico. Last August Fox invited Khatami to visit in
March, in part to attend a Dialogue among Civilizations conference, however in late January the invitation was somewhat tactlessly
Some in the
Mexican media blamed the U.S., saying that Undersecretary of Foreign Relations Gerónimo Gutiérrez had recently met with Condoleezza
Rice and that the U.S. Secretary of State had forced the retraction. Both Gutiérrez
himself and a State Department spokesman however deny such conversations ever took place.
As for Aguilar,
he expressed greater concerned with the aftereffects of the “disinvitation.”
The invitation to Khatami should never have been withdrawn he said, due to how it will be viewed by the Arab and Muslim
world. Aguilar said that this “insult to Arabs and Muslims” would
have future international repercussions and consequences on Mexico.
______________Barnard Thompson is
Editor of MexiData.info. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.