For the last 20 years, the U.S.–Mexico security cooperation relationship has relied on transgovernmental networks (TGNs). TGNs have both substituted for the absence of more formally institutionalized cooperation and also served to implement and complement broader top-down understandings on binational collaboration. They bring great flexibility to dealing with constantly changing issues. But they are also no substitute for institutionalized cooperation. This paper argues that, while TGNs present a network model of binational cooperation and give extraordinary legs to binational work, they remain excessively dependent on the will and ability of individuals to create them and maintain them. As a result, binational cooperation remains vulnerable to personality variables as well as changing political winds.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Lael Brainard .
Strand et al. .
Dujin et al. .
Bow and Anderson .
TGNs are not devoid of organizational underpinnings. They constitute a form of institutionalization of cooperation, although not ideal. This paper does not intend to imply that they are the opposite of cooperation institutions; it simply argues that they often take the place of institutions when these are absent, although they may also complement and strengthen institutions when they exist.
Slaughter and Hale .
Thurner and Binder .
U.S. Department of State .
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration .
Van Natta Jr. .
U.S. Department of Homeland Security .
Plan Colombia was a major foreign aid, military and diplomatic initiative by the United States to combat drug cartels and left-wing guerrillas in Colombia. It was started in 1999 and made law in the U.S. in the year 2000. The plan is largely credited for the eventual break down of drug trafficking cartels and the defeat of the FARC guerrillas in that country.
U.S. Department of State, ‘Inspection of Embassy Mexico City, Mexico.’
Heinle et al. .
Villas de Salvárcar is a section of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, where a massacre of 15 young athletes occurred on January 31, 2010, when a gang mistook them for members of a rival gang. After that massacre, Mexico’s President Calderón realized that the drug war strategy was focused on law enforcement and was largely missing investment in strengthening civil society and institutions. That realization is credited with the Mérida Initiative’s added investment on issues beyond law enforcement—a shift that came to be known as the Four Pillars MI.
U.S. Department of State, ‘Report of Inspection of Embassy Mexico City, Mexico.’
Seelke and Finklea .
CBS New .
U.S. Department of Justice .
U.S. Department of State .
U.S. Department of Homeland Security .
Brainard, Lael. 2001. Trade Policy in the 1990s. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.
Strand, Håvard, Håvard Hegre, Scott Gates, and Marianne Dahl. 2012. Democratic Waves? Global Patterns of Democratization, 1816–2008. In 3rd International Conference on Democracy as Idea and Practice, January 12–13. https://www.prio.org/utility/DownloadFile.ashx?id=647&type=publicationfile.
Alexandroff, Alan S. (ed.). 2008. Can the World Be Governed? Possibilities for Effective Multilateralism. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Pastor, Robert A. 2011. The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Astorga, Luis. 2010. México: De la seguridad autoritaria a la inseguridad en la transición democrática. In Drogas y prohibición: Una vieja guerra, un nuevo debate, ed. Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, 345–386. Buenos Aires: Libros del Zorzal.
Dujin, Paul A.C., Victor Kashirin, and Peter M.A. Sloot. 2014. The Relative Ineffectiveness of Criminal Network Disruption. Scientific Reports 4: 4238.
Bow, Brian, and Greg Anderson. 2014. Regional Governance in Post-NAFTA North America: Building Without Architecture. New York: Routledge.
Slaughter, Anne-Marie, and Thomas N. Hale. 2011. Transgovernmental Networks. In The SAGE Handbook of Governance, ed. Mark Bevir, 342–351. London: Sage Publications.
Slaughter, Anne-Marie. 2004. A New World Order. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Powell, Walter W. 1990. Neither Market Nor Hierarchy: Network Forms of Organization. Research in Organizational Behavior 12: 295–336.
Thurner, Paul W., and Martin Binder. 2008. European Union Transgovernmental Networks: The Emergence of a New Political Space beyond the Nation-State? European Journal of Political Research 48(1): 80–106.
U.S. Department of State. 2015. Inspection of Embassy Mexico City, Mexico. Office of the Inspector General. https://www.stateoig.gov/system/files/isp-i-15-28a.pdf.
Payan, Tony. 2006. Cops, Soldiers and Diplomats: Understanding Agency Behavior in the War on Drugs. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
D’Appollonia, Ariane Chebel. 2012. Frontiers of Fear: Immigration and Insecurity in the United States and Europe. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Toro, Maria Celia. 1999. The Internationalization of Policy: The DEA in Mexico. Journal of American History 86(2): 623–640.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. History 1990–1994. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.dea.gov/about/history/1990-1994%20p%2067-76.pdf.
Frontline. 2000. Interview with Guillermo González Calderoni. PBS. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/interviews/calderoni.html.
Van Natta Jr., Don. 1998. U.S. Indicts 26 Mexican Bankers in Laundering of Drug Funds. New York Times, May 19. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/19/world/us-indicts-26-mexican-bankers-in-laundering-of-drug-funds.html.
Dunn, Timothy J. 2010. Blockading the Border and Human Rights: The El Paso Operation that Remade Immigration Enforcement. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press.
Maril, Robert Lee. 2006. Patrolling Chaos: The U.S. Border Patrol in Deep South Texas. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press.
Rotella, Sebastian. 1992. Reducing the Misery at the Border: Immigration: Grupo Beta is an Elite Mexican Multi-agency Force with the Task of Protecting Migrants. It Has Cut Violence and Improved Relations Between U.S. and Mexico. Los Angeles Times, March 10. http://articles.latimes.com/1992-03-10/news/mn-3541_1_grupo-beta.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. United States and Mexico Sign Updated Repatriation Agreements. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, February 23. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/02/23/united-states-and-mexico-sign-updated-repatriation-arrangements.
Carlsen, Laura. 2008. Armoring NAFTA: The Battleground for Mexico’s Future. NACLA, August 27. https://nacla.org/news/armoring-nafta-battleground-mexico%E2%80%99s-future.
Payan, Tony. 2016. The Three U.S.–Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration and Homeland Security. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.
SPP. 2019. Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. https://2001-2009.state.gov/p/wha/rt/spp//index.htm.
Gluszek, Alicja. 2014. The Security and Prosperity Partnership and the Pitfalls of North American Regionalism. Norteamérica 9(1, January–June): 7–54.
Storrs, K.Larry. 2005. Mexico–United States Dialogue on Migration and Border Issues, 2001–2005. Wasington: Library of Congress Congressional Research Service.
Seelke, Clare R. 2019. Mexico: Evolution of the Mérida Initiative, 2007–2019. Library of Congress Congressional Research Service, June 28. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IF10578.pdf.
Heinle, Kimberly, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk. 2017. Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2016. Justice in Mexico Project. https://justiceinmexico.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017_DrugViolenceinMexico.pdf.
Seelke, Clare R., and Kristin Finklea. 2017. U.S.–Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond. Library of Congress Congressional Research Service, June 29. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R41349.pdf.
CBS News. 2014. Cellphone Led to Capture of Top Drug Lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. CBS News, February 23. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cellphone-led-to-capture-of-top-drug-lord-joaquin-el-chapo-guzman/.
Michaels, Jim. 2013. Kingpin Capture Shows Role of U.S.-Trained Mexican Marines. USA Today, July 16. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/16/mexico-marines-pentagon-drug-kingpin/2522855/.
Michaels, Jim. 2004. Pentagon Expands Training of Mexican Military. USA Today, July 15. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/07/15/mexico-drugs-us-military/12535271/.
Arriola Vega, Luis Alfredo. 2016. Mexico’s Not So Comprehensive Southern Border Plan. Public Policy Issue Brief No. 08.05.16, August 5. https://www.bakerinstitute.org/media/files/files/329273a1/BI-Brief-080516-MEX_Border.pdf.
Arriola Vega, Luis Alfredo. 2017. Policy Adrift: Mexico’s Southern Border Program. James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. https://www.bakerinstitute.org/media/files/files/fa7ac127/MEX-pub-FronteraSur-062317.pdf.
Hains, Tim. 2017. DHS Sec. John Kelly: Wall on Mexico’s Southern Border Would Be ‘Very Effective.’ Real Clear Politics, May 25. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/05/25/dhs_sec_john_kelly_wall_on_mexicos_southern_border_would_be_very_effective.html.
U.S. Department of Justice. 2012. A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters. Office of the Inspector General. https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2012/s1209.pdf.
U.S. Department of State. 2019. U.S.–Mexico Joint Declaration. Department of State, June 7. https://www.state.gov/u-s-mexico-joint-declaration/.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 2018. CBP, Mexican Counterparts Sign Agreements for Better Cooperation. Customs and Border Protection, March 30. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/spotlights/cbp-mexican-counterparts-sign-agreements-better-cooperation.
Reuters. 2018. Mexico, U.S. Sign Accords on Customs, Border Cooperation. Reuters, March 26. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mexico-cooperation/mexico-u-s-sign-accords-on-customs-border-cooperation-idUSKBN1H300H.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Payan, T. Improvising and muddling through: transnational government networks and security cooperation between Mexico and the U.S.. J Transatl Stud (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s42738-020-00047-w
- Transnational governmental networks
- U.S.–Mexico relations