For a man who is supposedly not running for president, Texas Governor Rick Perry certainly has taken to the national media in recent weeks.
But to be fair to reporters, he’s usually full of surprises. Take Perry’s Thursday appearance on MSNBC, where he suggested that US troops may soon be needed to fight the ever-escalating battle between Mexico’s military and the drug cartels.
Coming from the governor who once said Texas may just leave the United States if he doesn’t like President Obama’s policies, that’s a pretty big leap.
Perry presides over a state which elected its largest majority of Republican legislators ever during the 2010 midterms, yet the state faces a budget gap of nearly $28 billion. Some Texas Republicans have been discussing ways they could get the state out of Medicare or certain requirements of the recently passed health reform laws and Texas remains the lone holdout in the fight against EPA regulations on greenhouse gases.
While Republican Rick Perry of Texas did specify that the US administration should secure an agreement with Mexico before sending in the military, he didn’t leave much wiggle room in his proposal.
“I think we have to use every aspect of law enforcement that we have, including the military,” he said. “Any means that we can [use] to run these people off our border and to save Americans’ lives, we need to be engaged in.”
In August Perry called on Obama to deploy more National Guard forces. While there were are already several hundred guardsmen deployed to the Texas border, Perry called their numbers insufficient.
The Department of Homeland Security noted, however, that Perry has it within his authority to deploy the guard as he sees fit, so long as Texas pays for it. Perry announced last year that special units of Texas Rangers would be sent to patrol the border.
“I think you have the same situation [in Mexico] as you had in Colombia,” Perry said. “Obviously, Mexico has to approve any type of assistance that we can give them. But the fact of the matter is, these are people who are highly motivated with money. They are vicious. They are armed to the teeth. I want to see them defeated. And any means that we can to run these people off our border and to save Americans’ lives we need to be engaged in.”
The comment was a reference to America’s ongoing military engagement with Colombia, where US troops are currently stationed operating Predator drones for drug war surveillance. The agreement to station US troops in Colombia enraged neighboring Venezuela, with leftist leader Hugo Chavez insisting the US had ulterior motives for the arrangement. Still, the US has a decades-long history of coordinating military campaigns with the Colombian government.
Mexico’s military campaign against the drug cartels has been ongoing since 2006, leaving over 28,000 dead according to official estimates. The illicit trade of drugs over the border is estimated to be worth over $25 billion, with the vast majority of profits coming from sales of marijuana.
The Mexican public has become increasingly wary of the bloody drug war, protesting government policies that activists say escalate violence.
“Deploying American forces in Mexico to fight the drug war is so bad in so many ways that it would take some kind of complete moron to even suggest such an idea,” wrote Pete Guither, author of Drug War Rant.
“[What] are we going to fight? We’ve got a really great military for fighting other armies, or for blowing up stuff, but it’s really not that effective for targeting specific individuals within a noncombatant population. And, as anyone with a brain has figured out by now, if you do succeed in successfully targeting those individuals (without killing a whole lot of innocents in the process), all you end up doing is creating an opening that is filled with more violence.”
Critics of America’s drug laws have suggested reforms including legalization and regulation of marijuana and other substances to alleviate violence caused by the criminal black market.
Perry, Texas’s successor to George W. Bush who is now set to become the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has repeatedly denied that he intends to seek the US presidency in 2010.