Behind the scene

  • Grayson and CalderonThe Class of 1938 Professor of Government travels to Mexico and meets Mexican officials regularly in the course of his research. He is pictured here (left) with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in a 2006 meeting in Washington, DC.

    Photo courtesy of George Grayson.

    Grayson and Calderon

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Mexico last week armed with the advice of William & Mary’s George Grayson. Grayson, who has studied the Mexican region for more than 30 years, is widely regarded as one of the pre-imminent scholars on the U.S.’s closest southern neighbor.

“It was a lively discussion,” Grayson said of the meeting. “[The Secretary] was the epitome of a great hostess.”

Mexico has been in the news recently over increased violence in the region and the escalating influence of their drug cartels in the U.S.

Mexican drug cartels are in at least 200 U.S. cities today, Grayson said. And the numbers are rising.

“Mexican cartels have taken over the wholesaling of drugs in the U.S.,” he noted.

Grayson met with Clinton at the State Department in the middle of March. The meeting included other noted scholars of the Mexican region, including William & Mary alum Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. (’80), assistant secretary of state for western hemispheric affairs; former U.S. Ambassadors to Mexico James Jones and Jeffrey Davidow, as well as John J. Bailey, professor of government and foreign service director at Georgetown University.

In tone, Grayson said, the scholars were in agreement.

“Most people were talking in terms of cooperation, collaboration and coordination,” the Class of 1938 Professor of Government said.

While Grayson has long noted the region is overlooked in U.S. foreign policy planning, Clinton’s trip along with the planned visits in April of Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano and President Obama to the region gives the professor hope things could be different now.

“The previous administration had their eyes glued on Iraq,” he said. “At least now it’s on the radar screen,” he said.

Still the scholar sees no easy solutions, especially on the drug trafficking front.

“I think we are gradually going to have to move toward militarizing the border [with Mexico],” he said.