Answers for the Next Foreign Policy Debate

Written by David Frum on Wednesday November 16, 2011

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In my column for The Week, I answer my own questions on foreign policy that I suggested for the CBS-National Journal GOP debate:

In advance of last Saturday's GOP foreign-policy debate, sponsors CBS and National Journal asked me to suggest questions for the moderators.

Unaccountably, they did not make use of my suggestions. Still, I had posted the list on my blog, and soon got a query from an international friend: Okay, wise guy — how would you answer them?

Here goes.

1. Mexico is being torn apart by a civil war to control the drug routes to the United States. Many Mexican leaders urge drug legalization in the U.S. in order to move the drug trade away from violent criminals to legitimate business. If a Mexican president asked you to consider such a step, what would you answer and why?

I would answer No. The drugs driving the violence in Mexico are heroin and cocaine, not marijuana. These are severely dangerous drugs, and to make them more available in the U.S. — especially at a time of economic distress — would also be severely dangerous. The most useful thing we could do to help Mexico defeat the violence of the drug cartels would be to curtail the flow of guns across the border. About 70 percent of weapons seized in Mexico come from the United States. The weapons flowing out of the U.S. are not shotguns or hunting pieces. They are military-style semi-automatic weapons. They were lawfully suppressed in the U.S. between 1994 and 2004, and reimposing such a ban would do more for Mexico at less cost to the United States than relaxing laws against heroin and cocaine.


9. Iraq: Knowing everything you know now, if you had been in Congress in 2002, would you have voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, yes or no?

No. For an Iraqi, there was no price too high to pay to rid the country of Saddam Hussein. For Americans, the issue was not Saddam's badness, but his nuclear weapons program. Knowing that the nuclear program was not a real threat, the invasion was too large a commitment. The world is a better place without Saddam, but as with everything, the question is one of costs and benefits. The costs to the U.S. were too high, the benefits to the U.S. too few.

Click here to read the full column.