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The Mexican Standoff

Trump and the Art of the Workaround

So far from God, so close to Trump: Peña Nieto and Trump in Mexico City, August 2016. Henry Romero / Reuters

For most of the twentieth century, Mexico and the United States were distant neighbors. Obliviousness and neglect from the north was met with resentment and, at times, outright hostility from the south, leaving the two countries diplomatically detached. Yet as the twenty-first century approached, this wariness began to fade, replaced by cooperation and even something resembling friendship. The détente began in the early 1990s, when Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and U.S. President George H. W. Bush developed a shared economic vision, culminating in the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the largest free-trade agreement in the world and the first to include countries with mature economies (the United States and Canada) and a country with a still emerging economy (Mexico). Bush’s successor, Bill Clinton, embraced the rapprochement, shepherding NAFTA through Congress and later rescuing Mexico from a financial crisis. And although Clinton’s

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