Political Animal


October 03, 2011 10:45 AM Perry rediscovers ‘adventurism’ (Look out, Mexico)

By Steve Benen

Rick Perry recently made extensive remarks on foreign policy to the VFW National Convention, and raised a few eyebrows when he said, “I do not believe that America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism.”

It seemed like a fairly reasonable start to a larger vision. Unfortunately, though, Perry’s aversion to “military adventurism” wouldn’t preclude sending U.S. troops into Mexico.

Rick Perry signaled Saturday he would be open to sending U.S. troops into Mexico to combat drug cartels should the situation arise.

After speaking at a house party in [New Hampshire], the Texas governor was asked a series of questions about the border and his stance on illegal immigration.

He said the leaders of Mexico and the U.S. should meet after next year’s elections to address the deadly drug trade in that country.

“It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border,” Perry said.

Hmm, sending U.S. troops into Mexico to target drug cartels. What could possibly go wrong?

Perry’s spokesperson later told reporters Perry would consider a cooperative effort between American and Mexican officials, but the campaign official “declined to specify” whether Perry is “amenable to sending troops into Mexico with or without the country’s consent.”

So, Mr. No Adventurism isn’t prepared to rule out an invasion of Mexico?

Given the larger context, it’s likely the Texas governor is overcompensating. Perry’s campaign ran into serious trouble over his support for in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants, so it stands to reason that the one-time frontrunner would be eager to prove to Republicans how “tough” he is.

But I rather doubt this is going to help.

Also note, Perry has been incoherent on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, and believes the “driving force” behind the Arab Spring in the Middle East is President Obama’s non-existent willingness to “apologize for America’s exceptionalism,”

Anyone who takes international affairs seriously should find the prospect of a Perry presidency rather terrifying.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • c u n d gulag on October 03, 2011 10:53 AM:

    "Anyone who takes international affairs seriously should find the prospect of a Perry presidency rather terrifying."

    Don't limit Perry - he's equally as terrifying on national affairs, too.

    Why don't we just finish the Manifest Destiny job that was never completed?

    Go for Canada up North, and everything below Mexico.

    I mean, Central and South America already have 'America in their names!"

    This way, we can control everything between the Atlantic and the Pacific, from Pole to Pole.

    The United States of America's!

  • Anonymous on October 03, 2011 10:57 AM:

    Either Perry or Mittens or really any of the repukeliscum will certainly invade some country soon after election. The single thing they all want is the badge of the warrior president. The only question is where and when.

    Either Iran, Mexico, or Venezuela will be invaded. It will happen early in the 2nd year, so that the midterm elections could be manipulated by jingo-fever.

    With Iran, we already have assets in place on both sides. We could easily position our forces on the east and west borders, and invade really fast.

  • T.Ramey on October 03, 2011 10:58 AM:

    I watched Ken Burns "Prohibition" last night, including the post-documentary discussion by the author of the book much the documentary was based on. He made the point that the drug trade could be dealt a critical blow, at least removing the violence, by legalizing it. Much the way the mob was taken out of the alcohol trade by legalizing it, so could international cartels be de-fanged by legalization. Likewise, it provides another lucrative federal and state tax resource. Is that just too logical an idea for the American people to get behind? Seems like it makes a lot more sense than sending troops to Mexico...

  • bleh on October 03, 2011 11:08 AM:

    Anyone who takes international affairs seriously should find the prospect of a Perry presidency rather terrifying.

    Oh, don't worry, he'll have very competent advisers.

    Maybe Dick Cheney could come out of retirement. Or Henry Kissinger. I mean, those worked so well before.

  • JM917 on October 03, 2011 11:14 AM:

    How about Perry saying that he'd also be open to letting the Mexican Army intervene in Texas (and elsewhere) to help identify and round up illegal immigrants?

    Oh, and while they're here the Mexican troopers could also help go after the gringo gun dealers who traffic in illegal cross-border (southbound) exports of their wares, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Mexican citizens in their own country.

    Maybe if these interventions were done in such a spirit of reciprocity, something positive could be accomplished?

    Of course, maybe the Mexican Army would find the land north of Rio Grande del Norte somehow familiar enough to decide that they wanted to get it back, after all these years? If so--you're welcome to it.

  • cmdicely on October 03, 2011 11:22 AM:

    Hmm, sending U.S. troops into Mexico to target drug cartels. What could possibly go wrong?

    Since the current U.S. approach already includes escalating the drug war in Mexico by sending CIA operatives and U.S.-contracted mercenaries to Mexico to help fight the cartels (to try to avoid the political cost, on both sides, of sending US troops while achieving the same goals), probably very little substantively rather than politically that isn't going to go wrong under the current policy. In fact, the drug war currently being fought in Mexico is a direct result of U.S. pressure and U.S. dollars fueling both sides.

    Perry's policy is insane, of course, but its not much more insane that the policy the U.S. has been pursuing for decades (and which has escalated under Obama), and is in fact exactly the endpoint to which the current policy has been driving since its inception.

    I mean, in any case, its all just burning lives and treasure to express an impotent moral outrage at the use of certain drugs.

  • Ron Byers on October 03, 2011 11:35 AM:

    Fighting drug cartels would prove to be particularly difficult for the US Military. The drug cartels have demonstrated an ability to corrupt or compromise their opponents that is deeply impressive. I wonder how long they would wait before they start bribing American general officers and other high American officials.

    They might have started already.

  • maylib on October 03, 2011 11:43 AM:

    I could be wrong here but, don't we already engage the military in drug tracking in the gulf from south and central america? I mean, I think perry's idea is a bad one but, I'm not sure he's stretching as much as you think.

  • 2Manchu on October 03, 2011 12:02 PM:

    Punitive Expedition, take two.

  • T2 on October 03, 2011 12:19 PM:

    I commented on this last night, but Perry should be disqualified by this statement. Just for sheer stupidity. There are three major US cities on the border, San Diego, El Paso and Brownsville..and you could say Laredo and Tucson too. A "war" between the Mexican cartels and the US Armed Forces under the direction of Rick Perry would be fought on the streets of these towns, and it would be a bloodbath. A simple trip to a Wal Mart in El Paso is dangerous enough now, it would be suicide if the cartels wanted it to be. Please look at a map. You'll notice that the entire Mexican border is desert. The cartels don't sit out there waiting on Yankees to come kill them. They sit in apartments in Southern California, Arizona and Texas waiting to kill Yankees.

  • jonas on October 03, 2011 12:37 PM:

    And the Mexicans, given as they are to taking siestas all day under a cactus with a sombrero pulled over their eyes and a peaceful burro nearby, will certainly not put up a big stink or anything about foreign troops crossing their border.

  • me4texas on October 03, 2011 12:49 PM:

    Folks: The Mexican Army has already landed in South Texas. Most notably a Mexican Army helicopter did land at Laredo's airport with troops aboard. The local sheriff conceded that the Mexican Army has tacit approval for these cross border incursions. Nothing new here.

  • awake108 on October 03, 2011 12:57 PM:

    Mexico is basically a third world conservative country. The wealth of the country is held in the hands of a few. The economy struggles and the middle class isn't supported. A vision of where we will be IF WE CONTINUE to follow Friedman economics. Back to Mexico. The drug war is really a power war. We are arming a stuggle over power Possible civil war. We had better get some policies toward central and south america. We should be worring about what is going on down there. We have been supporting dictators down there and the people arn't going to take it any more.

  • T2 on October 03, 2011 3:57 PM:

    geez awake 108 - "The wealth of the country is held in the hands of a few. The economy struggles and the middle class isn't supported. " that sounds like America.

  • osceola on October 03, 2011 4:09 PM:

    Send in Blackjack Pershing in a "punitive expedition"!

    Or does Perry think he's more like Winfield Scott shelling Veracruz?

    Way too much historical precedent here to make anyone feel comfortable.

  • Redshift on October 03, 2011 5:18 PM:

    In the same interview where he said he was against "military adventurism," Perry declared that we had to go after our enemies wherever the were. So this latest bit of idiocy isn't really that new; his policy position on military action can probably be summed up as "I'll use the military for whatever I feel like, but I won't get them into anything stupid, promise!"

  • Varecia on October 03, 2011 7:07 PM:

    And the other side of the plan he forgot to mention: send Mexican troops into the U.S. to round up drug users. Sounds like a plan, right Rick?

  • TCinLA on October 03, 2011 7:10 PM:

    Given the history of US-Mexico relations going back to the crew of cashiered army officers, back-alley assassins, slave catchers, bank robbers, failed politicians and general miscreants commonly considered the Founding Fathers of Texas, I can think of no event that would do more to unify the Mexican population completely behind the drug cartels than for a halfwitted moron from Texas sitting in the White House to order a US invasion of Mexico. Talk about a man who cannot add 2 plus 2 and get 4 on consecutive attempts. Governor Goatroper is an embarrassment not only to Texas but America.

    Governor Goatroper, the best reason to be "from Texas" (as I am) - as far from the place as possible.

  • flubber on October 03, 2011 8:03 PM:

    "it stands to reason that the one-time frontrunner would be eager to prove to Republicans how “tough” he is [on Mexican immigrants] But I rather doubt this is going to help."

    Declaring intent to invade Mexico unilaterally would help Perry in the R primaries, maybe hurt in the general.