Monday, November 18, 2019

Don't Ever Say You'll Send Troops to Mexico

Of course, we are in the period where a ton of Democratic candidates vie for the nomination. Latin America does not seem to come up very often, though I can't say I am paying close attention. These comments from Pete Buttigieg, however, caught my eye.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said at a Latino forum in Los Angeles on Sunday that he’d be willing to send U.S. troops into Mexico to combat gang and drug violence. 
“There is a scenario where we could have security cooperation,” Buttigieg said. 
Even so, he added a caveat: “I’d only order American troops into conflict if American lives were on the line and if it was necessary to meet treaty obligations.” 
His campaign later clarified that Buttigieg would only be open to military use as a “last resort” in response to Mexican cartel violence or an outside threat that endangers the country’s security.
Even with the caveats and the walk-back, this is a sign of a serious and long-standing problem in the United States. We are utterly careless with regard to use of force abroad, with no discussion at all of the human cost or ethics in general. The catastrophe of Iraq, for example, seems not to have had an impact at all. When Buttigieg says something like this, he figures he is looking tough, which candidates believe they need to do. After all, he was just repeating what a Republican Senator already recently said. This is a bipartisan problem. The average person in the U.S. just shrugs--invade a country, whatever. If we need to.

Can you imagine the result if the United States sent U.S. troops into Mexico to fight the drug war? The human cost would be immense and the operation would be guaranteed to fail. Guaranteed. The entire hemisphere--regardless of ideology--would be united in opposition, which would jeopardize any number of other initiatives and totally isolate the U.S.

On the ground, ask General John J. Pershing how it worked out when it came to the local population. True to the U.S. tradition of ignoring the disasters of foreign intervention, Pershing's failure in Mexico led to him becoming head of U.S. forces in the western front during World War I.


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