Apparently, the media isn’t going to move Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis from his promise to deploy military hardware to the southern border and use it against cartel members if he becomes president.
In part of a Tuesday interview with Norah O’Donnell on the “CBS Evening News” — during what Politico referred to as a “tense exchange” — DeSantis said he wouldn’t rule out launching missiles into Mexico to attack drug cartels were he president.
He added that it was “dependent on the situation.”
The exchange was precipitated by one of the more news-making super PAC ads of the young Republican primary season, in which DeSantis is featured in footage saying that “the cartels are killing tens of thousands of our fellow citizens.”
“We have to defend our people. We’re going to use force, and we’re going to leave them stone cold dead,” he added.
Just in case you didn’t get the message, the ad was titled “Stone Cold Dead.”
The DeSantis-aligned super PAC quickly drew fire from critics, according to WTSP-TV in Tampa, which said the governor “attempted to clarify his vow to leave people crossing illegally ‘stone cold dead.’”
This would indeed be illegal under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 — if it had been what DeSantis had said in the ad. It wasn’t; you saw it yourself. He’s clearly talking about drug cartels, and anything else is willful misinterpretation. But I digress.
Should the United States immediately begin using deadly force on the southern border?
“We would use all available — the tactics, I think, can be debated. If you have something you want to accomplish, people would brief you on the different ways you’d be able to do it,” DeSantis noted, according to Politico. “So, that would be dependent on the situation.”
“Cartel members, I mean, you have to identify them as being hostile. I mean, if there’s, if there’s a woman with a baby, they’re not a cartel member, there’s not going to be authorization to just shoot somebody like that,” he said, WTSP reported.
“But when somebody’s got a backpack on and they’re breaking through the wall, you know, that’s hostile intent, and you have every right to take action under those circumstances. And guess what, you do that a few times, the times are a-changin’, they will have to respond to that,” DeSantis concluded.
Let’s leave aside that this is apparently a “tense exchange” for Politico, where politics should be conducted like yoga classes. DeSantis isn’t the first Republican to say that it’s time the military get involved in the border crisis; both Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio and Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, among others, have supported the idea in one way or another, much to the consternation of the left.
He’s also not the only Republican presidential candidate to float the idea of sending the military the border to stop the crisis; as Agence France-Presse reported, three other candidates — former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman and conservative activist Vivek Ramaswamy, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — all pledged they would deploy the military to end the crisis.
In addition, former Trump administration Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, alleged in a memoir that while The Donald repeatedly floated the idea of deploying missiles to the southern border to fight cartels during his presidency, he decided against it because of the potential legal ramifications and an increase in asylum claims, according to WTSP.
Of course, there’s a simpler way of doing this, which would have involved pressuring Mexico to enforce its own laws and get a handle on its sprawling organized crime problem decades ago. The issue is that no one in power there wants to take the steps necessary in order to dismantle the drug and human trafficking pipeline, and no one here has ever sufficiently felt the need to, either.
A military presence at the border would finally send a message that America isn’t simply just going to view Mexico as an ally with a significant crime problem but, as far as it comes to enforcing laws against organized crime, as a failed state that must be treated accordingly.
“The reality is, they are overrunning our border,” DeSantis told O’Donnell. “They’re sex trafficking. They’re human trafficking, and they’re bringing in massive quantities of drugs. I mean, our country is being invaded and hurt by what they’re doing. And the question is, do we just throw up our hands and do we say, there’s nothing we can do about it? Or does a leader take action?”
Yes, this kind of diplomacy might lead to a “tense exchange” — tenser than the one DeSantis had with O’Donnell, even — but one suspects it might get better results than we’re getting now.
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