Gov. Rick Perry's call for US troops in Mexico: 10 questions he should answer

Blogger James Bosworth lists questions for presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who said that sending US troops to Mexico may be the only way to curtail drug violence.

By , Guest blogger

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    Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, speaks during a 2012 campaign event Saturday, Oct. 1, in Hampton, N.H.
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Rick Perry, Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate: “It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and keep them off our border.”

The first instinct of many other analysts is to criticize the statement. I'll avoid criticism of a plan without details and want to hear more about Governor Perry's plan and what the other GOP contenders think. Journalists need to follow up with Perry at future events or at debates about the details of what he wants to do.

IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war

  • Roughly, how many US troops does Perry think should be on the ground in Mexico (10, 100, 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000)?
  • How long should they be there?
  • What is their mission?
  • What are the rules of engagement?
  • How does Perry define victory for the US military in Mexico?
  • How much is Perry willing to spend on the operation?
  • How will he pay for the mission?
  • Are there any other countries where Perry is considering sending troops?
  • What would be the threshold for doing so?
  • How does he balance sending troops to Mexico with other national security priorities?
  • Beyond the military, what is the civilian and contractor commitment to this effort?

Additionally, the other candidates participating in the next GOP presidential debate should be asked whether they plan to send US troops to Mexico. They could do this by raising their hands to start (as they have done for other questions in previous debates), and then each person who says they may commit troops could be asked to provide additional details about their plan. Any candidate who is planning to use US troops in a foreign country should have the details on their website, because the debate format is good for getting candidates on the record at a basic level, but poor for outlining more serious details. For any candidate planning to use the military in Mexico (or Iran or Syria or elsewhere), it's a big promise and a serious commitment that could reshape our foreign policy and should not be taken lightly.

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If the next potential commander-in-chief is coming to office with a plan to send US troops into a foreign country to fight a non-state threat, as Perry says he is, then voters deserve to know about it. Now that the issue of potential US troops in Mexico has been raised in the presidential campaign, and continues to be raised by some members of Congress in the context of counter-insurgency, we should be having this debate. We should be informed about how the next Republican administration hopes to use the military and how they will fund the effort.

Criticizing a vague comment by Perry is easy. Getting him and other candidates to actually outline their plans for countering Mexico's violence would be useful. Knowing if and how they plan to send US troops into harm's way before they are elected is critical. Details matter. This is too serious an issue to let drop.

--- James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Latin America bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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