Mexico is a poor country by North American standards, but a middle-income one by world standards. It has oil and other natural resources, a highly developed economy, a sophisticated civil society, and a government that is feckless and corrupt but reasonably stable. It also has some serious problems, and it would be very much in the interest of the United States to see some of those problems mitigated. Think of how much better-off we would be if we had a country more like Germany or France to our south — or a sunnier Canada — than the neighbor we’ve actually got.

Almost nobody — no conservative — has anything good to say lately about Mexico, which produces a great deal of oil but whose most visible exports are Mexicans, mostly desperately poor ones, and drugs. (And, of course, Mexicans carrying drugs.) The lawlessness in the cartel-controlled parts of Mexico, the continued flood of illegals across the border (Trump’s boasting notwithstanding, illegal border crossings were up sharply in the early summer), the Mexican government’s inability or disinclination to do much about these, and the anti-immigration and anti-foreign sentiment currently gripping much of the electorate have many Americans less than eager to see Washington investing any additional time or resources in problems south of the border. A Marshall Plan for Mexico? Good luck selling that.

But something along those lines would in fact be an intelligent investment in North American stability, security, and prosperity.