Now that I am even more conscious of the conditions in the places where Marines might be sent - as opposed to being concerned only with the long-term foreign policy implications - I am wondering about Mexico. While Chris was told at boot camp that he would probably be deployed to Afghanistan, the subject of Mexico did come up a few times. There were many Hispanics in his platoon. I don't know their provenance, or whether they are second generation. Chris said that a few were Puerto Rican, which makes sense.
My limited understanding tells me that military careers are not unusual in Hispanic, especially Mexican-American, culture. I wonder what that would mean for deployment of American servicemen of Mexican birth or heritage. The kneejerk reaction would be to worry about where their loyalties lie (as we would about natives of any foreign country in our armed services - I'm not singling anyone out here). The second kneejerk reaction would be to recognise the enormous humint advantage such soldiers would have. I think the reality would be much more complicated - more complicated than even the soldiers themselves anticipate.
Given the thugs who are taking over large parts of Mexico, it's not a stretch to think that the average Mexican-American soldier would have no divided loyalty at all: I am defending both my old country and my new one. That would be all to the good, and those would perhaps be among the best that we sent. Yet there would be a few who would be unreliable, and the effect of those could be devastating. More subtly, the local population would be making its own compromises and hedging of bets. We would wish that Mexicans would be entirely loyal to goodness, truth, and the best interests of their nation as a whole, but seeing that we don't do that ourselves - we have a third of an entire major political party which is more loyal to the UN than to the US - I don't see how we can expect other humans to be nobler than we are ourselves.
In the villages, families and factions will shift, and loyalties will be more fluid. Part of this will be simple survival, but part will also be that locals are making different calculations than Americans about what is in their best long term interest. Mexican-American soldiers will be faced with emotional conflicts which none of us would wish to face. To those of my readers who react in anger to this, expecting that new citizens from Mexico should display especial loyalty to America, I would say I agree. But put yourself in the position thirty years from now, if we have elected a succession of Obamas to the presidency and are sending active troops to Alaska, or to defend a corrupt Lebanese government against democratic Israel - where does your loyalty lie then? Is it so simple?
Loyalty among fallen humans is never simple. Americans are enormously blest to live in a place where trust levels are so high, and consensus so general that these questions have not come to us. We cannot assume that such blessings will endure forever.