Mitt Romney on Mexico, China and defense
October 6th, 2011
11:00 AM ET

Mitt Romney on Mexico, China and defense

Editor's Note: Dr. James M. Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-author of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. Visit his blog here and follow him on Twitter

By James M.

Mitt Romney has taken exception to Rick Perry’s comment over the weekend that he would consider sending American troops into Mexico to help end the drug war raging there. Romney told the New Hampshire Union Leader that Perry’s suggestion is “a bad idea:”

Let’s build a fence first, and let’s have sufficient border patrol agents to protect it. And if the Mexican government wants us to help it with logistics, intelligence, satellite images, I’m sure we can provide the sort of support we provided in Colombia.

You can expect to hear more about Mexico at next Tuesday’s GOP debate. If Romney makes the Colombia comparison again, he probably should explain what the United States did there. Most people don’t know.

Romney touched on some other foreign policy points in his Union Leader interview. (A video of the interview is available at He is worried that: China wants to “expand control into the South China Sea” and has its “eyes on Taiwan”; Iran is “about to become nuclear”; Russia is “trying to rebuild parts or elements of the old Soviet Union”; and Pakistan “could easily become a failed state.” He said relatively little about how he would handle these threats. The exception was Iran, where he advocated “very substantial covert activity” and convincing Iranian leaders that the United States “is seriously considering a military option and that we would consider using them.” That sounds a lot like current policy.

Romney also said that defense spending should be at least 20 percent of the federal budget, which is roughly its current share. So he won’t cut defense spending. He has previously said he intends to bring government spending under control without raising taxes. Making those pledges fit together will be a Herculean task. Even if you eliminated every dollar of non-defense discretionary spending, the annual budget deficit would still exceed $500 billion. And we know that Congress is not going to vote to end every domestic program.

Romney plans to give a foreign-policy speech at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina this Friday. (Random historical aside: Then candidate George W. Bush gave his first big defense policy speech at The Citadel, which hails itself as the military college of South Carolina, back on September 23, 1999.) We’ll see whether Romney moves from naming threats to laying out a strategy for meeting them, as well as whether he explains how he would make his budget math add up.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of James Lindsay.

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Topics: 2012 Election • Immigration • Politics

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Mitt Romney wouldn't cut defense spending, then he should sound more optimistic, vis-a-vis the U.S. foreign relations. The U.S. doesn't have to worry about Russia being another Sovjet Union, Pakistan another failed state, Iran going nuclear and China having "its eyes on Taiwan" and controlling the South China Sea! Fear doesn't bode well!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:34 am | Reply
  2. Onesmallvoice

    I'd be much more forgiving of Mitt Romney if he was planning to replace Islam with the Mormon faith in Afghanistan instead of the current policy of fighting there solely for the right of big business to exploit Afghanistan's natural resources. Being motivated by religion is by far nobler than being motivated by sheer greed!!!

    October 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  3. If

    If we are going to build a fence between Mexico & US, how will the republicans ship the jobs to Mexico and get Mexicans to work for them "off the books"?

    October 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Reply
    • Occupado

      There are no more jobs going to Mexico. That happened during the Clinton Administration. When the corporations discovered how corrupt and dangerous Mexico was, they closed the machiodoros and shipped the jobs to China.

      October 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  4. Trehcir the mathematician

    The math of the article is slightly off. It said:

    "Romney also said that defense spending should be at least 20 percent of the federal budget, which is roughly its current share. So he won’t cut defense spending."

    If there are 10% across the board cuts (not saying this is a proposal), defense as a "percentage" of spending would still not be cut. Thus, he can agree to cuts and still maintain 20% on spending. Also, if he intervenes in Iran, we may need a military spending increase. That sounds expensive.

    October 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  5. Kweg Yung

    Corporate America's expansion into China was paid for by the American taxpayer. Bush's “tax cuts for the rich” policy helped to fund this transition. That's why no American jobs were created but a lot of Chinese jobs were. Republican politicians represent the corporate rich, the 'job creators'. When was the last time you saw a job created in the U.S.? The rich don't pay tax in this country and their corporations are physically based in communist China; where, by the way, SOCIALIZED healthcare and SOCIALIZED education are the norm and ALL the banks are state owned. These former American companies only pay tax in China, supporting a growing communist government and military. Republican politicians sold us (U.S.) out. These guys aren't batting for us (U.S.) anymore.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Reply
    • Occupado

      Trying to blame the China bubble on the Republicans is wrong. A lot of those jobs left American shores during the Clinton Administration, too. They moved to Mexico, then to China. You cannot stop the flow of manufacturing jobs to countries with cheap slave labor in the new world economy.

      The Chinese economy is doomed to fail because the workers who are building our flat screened television sets and I-phones can't afford to buy the products they make. They can't even move their families with them to the towns where they work. They're forced to live in dormitories. If they can afford it, they go home every couple of months.

      Soon the Chinese worker will realize they've been exploited. Imagine that? Workers being exploited in the workers' paradise.

      China is long overdue for a counter revolution.

      October 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Reply
      • Occupado

        One more thing... tax cuts for "the rich" had absolutely nothing to do with it. If anything, they helped create more jobs here in America - not ship them overseas to China.

        And if you think the Republicans did all this, take a look at Obama's job czar, Jeffrey Immelt. When he was the CEO of General Electric, he shipped thousands of jobs to China.

        Did you see GE's corporate earnings statement they release last week? Talk about a rich corporation.

        Well, done, Messrs. Obama and Immelt.

        October 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm |

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