Duties, Priorities, and Arrogance
There is much buzz today about how news stories of Malia Obama's Spring vacation in Mexico with her classmates keep getting sent down the Internet memory hole. If the story is true, one thing I have not seen mentioned in a lot is the lack of judgment shown by her parents in allowing this trip. It is an international incident waiting to happen.
The situation In Mexico so perilous the State Department has warned Americans to entirely avoid some areas and to remain vigilant even in traditional resorts areas like Acapulco. According to the news stories I read before they disappeared, 25 Secret Service agents and other security personal have accompanied Malia and her classmates. The task of Secret Service personnel becomes more difficult when they operate outside of US territory because their mission is not coterminous with the duties of law enforcement officials in the host nation. When they are protecting the President and other senior government officials on official business they enjoy a certain status under international law, custom and protocol. As the guardians of the President's daughter and her teenybopper friends on a foreign lark, the Secret Service is on much shakier ground should the need to use force arise. While there certainly is a modus operandi with Mexican authorities for security on this trip, that agreement may not be long in effect should Mexican nationals get injured and the local political situation become inflamed.
I understand the President and First Lady's have placed a high priority on giving their daughters as normal a life as possible, but they are not normal parents. The oath he took means the interests of this nation override any desires to please a teenage daughter, no matter how exigent her emotions are on the issue or how plaintively she wails but it's not fair! All my friends will be there! It is simply not in the national interest for the President to send a large contingent of American security forces in harm's way to meet a daughter's wishes -- even if the family is personally picking up the entire tab for their expenses.
In the fulfillment of his oath of office President Obama has often apologized to foreigners for what he saw as past sins of American arrogance. I wonder how he will react should his parental indulgence give rise to a demand that he apologize to Mexican citizens because the Secret Service was merely doing their duty while on foreign soil to guard a child's vacation?