Should we start planning for the Texas Republic?

Here at FP, we don't always pay much attention to U.S. domestic policy, obviously, and the tax-day tea parties confused us a bit. Why weren't the protesters dressed up as Native Americans (like in the Boston Tea Party) or Mad Hatters? Weren't top-bracket taxes higher under Reagan?

Regardless, we've glommed onto a U.S. domestic issue which suggests a foreign-policy disaster: the U.S. state of Texas threatening to secede. Texas Governor Rick Perry, angered, like the tea-bag-partiers, over Obama's spending and tax policies, has implied that Texas might leave the Union.

So what would Texas look like as a foreign country?

It would be the world's thirteenth largest economy -- bigger than South Korea, Sweden, and Saudi Arabia. But its worth would crater precipitously, after NAFTA rejected it and the United States slapped it with an embargo that would make Cuba look like a free-trade zone. Indeed, Texas would quick become the next North Korea, relying on foreign aid due to its insistence on relying on itself. 

On the foreign policy front, a seceded Texas would suffer for deserting the world superpower. Obama wouldn't look kindly on secessionists, and would send in the military to tamp down rebellion. If Texas miraculously managed to hold its borders, Obama would not establish relations with the country -- though he might send a special rapporteur. (We nominate Kinky Friedman.)

So, Texas would need to court Mexico and Central American nations as a trading partners and protectors. Those very nations would also pose a host of problems for Texas. President Perry might find friends in anti-U.S. nations like Venezuela and Cuba, but their socialist politics would rankle the libertarian nation. 

And Texas would become a conduit for drugs moving north to the United States from Mexico, maybe even becoming a narco-state. It would need to invest heavily in its own military and policing force to stop drug violence within its borders -- taking away valuable resources from, oh, feeding its people, fending off U.S. border incursions, and improving its standing in the world. 

In short: the state of Texas would rapidly become direly impoverished, would need to be heavily armed, and would be wracked with existential domestic and foreign policy threats. It would probably make our failed states list in short order. Probably better to pay the damn taxes.

And of course -- Texas isn't seceding. Only regions in civil war or self-governing areas in very weak states manage independence. Perry was floating a piece of asinine political rhetoric, running a heated race against fellow Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson and courting small-government conservatives of all stripes. Plus, more importantly, Texas can't secede, according to the 1869 Supreme Court Case, Texas v. White. Ah well. 

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Chuck Norris has offered to be President of Texas, greatly reducing the possible internal threat of unionists or external threat of U.S. military forces to the seceded country. (H/t Ezra Klein.) 

Photo: Flickr user Susan E. Gray


Morning Brief: India votes

Top Story

Five weeks of elections have kicked off in the world's largest democracy as more than 140 million Indians in 124 constituencies head to the polls today. This is the first of round of elections in which 714 million people are eligible to vote. Final results are expected on May 16.

With no unifying issue and a host of smaller parties picking up votes, neither the ruling Congress Party nor the Hindu nationalist opposition party BJP appear likely to finish with a majority. This would leave India with an shaky coalition government.

The process has been marred today by attacks from Maoist rebels throughout central India. Five election workers have been killed in bombings and eight others kidnapped. Thousands of police have been deployed to prevent further attacks.

Preeti Aroon has more in this week's FP photo essay.

Middle East

Meeting with U.S. envoy George Mitchell, Israeli President Shimon Peres dismissed the possibility of his country attacking Iran. Mitchell reiterated the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution in a meeting with new foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Sixteen Iraqi soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber near Baghdad.

Dubai's ruling family has become embroiled in a very public scandal after allegations of swindling.


China recorded its slowest growth on record in the first quarter of this year.

Exiled Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra urged Thailand's political factions to reconcile as he was granted a Nicaraguan passport, complicated the current government's efforts to extradite him.

UN nuclear inspectors have left North Korea after being expelled by the regime.


As he travels to Mexico City today, President Barack Obama vowed to crack down on the finances of drug traffickers.

Colombia's most wanted drug lord has been captured by authorities.

Brazilian President Lula da Silva once again lashed out at rich nations for causing the global financial crisis, likening the world economy to the Titanic.


Freed U.S. ship captain Richard Phillips arrived safely in Kenya as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rolled out a new plan for fighting piracy.

Zimbabwe's government will carry out an investigation of the seizures of white-owned farms. 

Ethiopia's opposition parties held a rare rally to protest the imprisonment of one of their leaders.


Russia has officially ended its counterterrorism operation in Chechnya.

Moscow is demanding that NATO military exercises in Georgia be suspended or cancelled.

French fishermen who were protesting EU fishing quotas have lifted their blockade of English Channel ports.