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Does Rick Perry really want to send U.S. troops to Mexico?

It's been superseded in the national media discussion by the controversy over the name of his old hunting spot, but Rick Perry also generated some controversy over the weekend with comments over how he would respond to Mexico's drug violence

“It may require our military in Mexico,” Perry said in answer to a question about the growing threat of drug violence along the southern border. Perry offered no details, and a spokesman, Robert Black, said afterward that sending troops to Mexico would be merely one way of putting an end to the exploding cartel-related violence in the region.

Black said Perry’s intention is to work with the Mexican government, but he declined to specify whether Perry is amenable to sending troops into Mexico with or without the country’s consent.

“If he were president he would do what it takes,” Black said. “The governor said, ‘I’m going to work with the Mexican government to do what’s necessary.’?”

As Brookings Institution scholar Michael O'Hanlon tells the Post, “It’s almost as sensitive as saying U.S. troops should go over the border into Pakistan.… It’s much more likely to cause a breakdown in our relationship with Mexico than make a difference in the drug war.”

One would hope that having met with Mexican presidents in the past, Perry is aware of how unlikely it is that any Mexican government would allow U.S. troops across the border and knows that, in practice, this idea is a non-starter. This isn't the first time Perry has floated this notion, though it hasn't come up much on the campaign trail, and it's possible the governor may be trying to counter the emerging line of attack from Mitt Romney that he's soft on immigration.

Of course, it's one thing for the governor of Texas to engage in some tough-sounding bluster to get the crowd riled up; it's quite different coming from a leading contender for the U.S. presidency. U.S. primary voters may be used to discounting some of the rhetorical excesses of campaign trail rhetoric, but I imagine it's a little more difficult for viewers in Mexico (or Pakistan, or China) to know which statements they should and shouldn't be taking seriously from the possible future leader of the free world.

Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images

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Decline Watch: U.S. now importing Chinese shoppers to buy its Chinese goods

Today's Amerislump data point comes from Ylan Q. Mui of the Washington Post

For the first time, lawmakers, businesses and even White House officials are courting consumers from cash-rich countries such as China, India and Brazil to fill the nation’s shopping malls and pick up the slack for penny-pinching Americans. They are wooing travelers with enticements such as coupons, beauty pageants and promises of visa reform. The payoff, they say, could be significant: 1.3 million new jobs and an $859 billion shot in the arm for the economy over the next decade.

“They’re their own little stimulus program,” said David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, a trade group.

The trend underscores the depth of the United States’ reliance on countries once considered to be at the bottom of the global totem pole. The nation already counts on China and other countries to manufacture its goods, creating a $45 billion trade imbalance that is paid for with money borrowed from their coffers. Now officials are encouraging foreign travelers to buy some of those products back — and a growing number are happy to oblige.

Guo Hui, 37, who lives in Beijing, recently returned home from a two-week tour of Yellowstone National Park, Houston and Los Angeles. He estimated he spent $2,000 to rent a car and pay for gas and lodging for himself and his wife. Then there was the Ed Hardy T-shirt, the Apple laptop, the HP laptop, even baby food and formula for his child, totaling an additional $6,000.

Still, Guo said prices are significantly cheaper than in China — a pair of Adidas sneakers costs only $25 at a U.S. outlet mall.

“For that price in China, you can’t even buy counterfeits,” he said.

Decline-o-meter:

Increasing tourism is a great goal, but the idea of kick-starting an economic recovery by attracting Asian shoppers to the United States to buy goods that are, for the most part, made in Asia doesn't sound all that sustainable. The fact that Guo flew back over the Pacific with a pair of shoes that probably were shipped over the Pacific from Indonesia a few months earlier and that he saved money in the process sounds frankly ridiculous. 

On top of that, draconian security regulations mean the U.S. isn't even taking full advantage of its new status as the world's outlet mall: 

Last week, Rep. Joseph J. Heck (R-Nev.) introduced a bill aimed at cutting the time it takes to get a tourist visa to 12 days, citing waits at consulates in key markets that can stretch to more than 100 days.

The State Department has pledged to reduce wait times for appointments to 30 days, and a spokesman said it is adding a “significant” number of staffers in Brazil and China to keep up with demand. The bill is awaiting a committee hearing.

Guo, of Beijing, said he waited nearly two months for an interview for his visa. He said he is also frustrated that the pass is only good for one year, which means he could have to reapply before his next trip. New York, Miami and Orlando are on his list.

“I guess too many people want to go to the U.S.,” Hui said.

Well that's something, I guess. 

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images