A remedial lesson in why borders matter
Some American politicos still don’t get it
By Ken Allard
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Forgive the temerity of a former Beltway insider who arrived in Texas just as soon as he possibly could. Have the people back in Washington lost their minds? This is not an unfair question, since Texas Gov. Rick Perry just days ago mobilized the National Guard to defend the nation’s southern border. Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution contains some tough language about foreign invasions, specifying that this is a responsibility of the feds, not weekend warriors.
Severe intellectual confusion suddenly seems to have eclipsed even the Washington Redskins as a reliable cause of Beltway embarrassment. Consider the following: “Our border is secure,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “It’s a hell of a pinprick operation,” says Secretary of State John Kerry about the Israeli offensive in Gaza. “What exactly are they trying to hide?” asks President Obama on the shootdown of a Malaysian airliner, apparently by Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Seriously, which planet are these gentlemen living on? Or better yet, was it Harvard, Columbia or the Jane Fonda School of Strategy that taught them to react to global and domestic challenges with such consistently sophomoric absurdities? These liberal conceits are only part of a larger heresy — one that defies eons of recorded history, as well as more recent events, to advance the dewy-eyed notion that “borders don’t matter.” Even worse: the notion that military power is an elusive, amoral concept best consigned to the history book of the 19th century. Let’s tackle those heresies in reverse order:
Mr. Obama must know that Russian separatists are trying to hide their likely complicity in the mass murder of nearly 300 innocent air travelers blown out of the sky. The culprits were just sober enough to launch one or more SA-11 missiles, gifts from Vladimir Putin in pursuit of Russian expansionism beyond a border he deplores. Unlike some Americans, Mr. Putin knows what a border means and is not particularly fussy about ends.
The Israelis understand better than we can imagine that borders equal security, and security equals life. Mr. Kerry may not have understood, either, that their use of military force to protect their citizens has been wonderfully precise. Israeli missiles that feature pinpoint guidance touched off secondary explosions from arms caches hidden in homes, schools and mosques. By contrast, Palestinian rocket barrages were unguided and deliberately aimed at civilian targets. So why is he extending such extraordinary diplomatic efforts to rescue Hamas, primary instigators of all that violence? Why on earth pledge $47 million in U.S. aid to assist 1.7 million Gaza residents, like some sort of weird jihadi lottery? Can anyone in Foggy Bottom do the math?
Finally, we come to that unmatched master of disaster, Mr. Reid. His utterly fatuous assertions about border security will be played and replayed this fall as the soundtrack for video of drug cartel Jet Skis crossing the Rio Grande under the suppressive fire of 50-caliber machine guns. Democrats are especially fond of pointing out that the Border Patrol has never had more agents. Where were they? Miles behind the actual border, making sandwiches, changing diapers and mixing baby formula for all those unaccompanied children swarming our supposedly secure perimeter. Both senators from Texas — John Cornyn and Ted Cruz — argue strongly that the current “humanitarian crisis” results directly from an underlying and deliberate crisis of lax border enforcement by the Obama administration. In his new book, “Faithless Execution,” Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, goes even further, claiming that Mr. Obama’s “failure to execute the immigration laws faithfully” might even support his impeachment.
It cannot be repeated too often: Those long-term issues may have more immediate consequences if we tolerate an unsecured border. Transnational syndicates — from drug cartels to the Iranian Al Quds force — are highly adaptive networks that flow through and around any porous border. If your border security lapses for any reason, you effectively send them an engraved invitation to deliver Stinger anti-aircraft missiles or weapons of mass destruction. That was why U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly recently termed our open southern border an existential threat to American security.
Give Mr. Perry credit for calling out the National Guard, an important first step that may prove to be more than symbolic. Give credit as well to Rep. Henry Cuellar, Texas Democrat, who joined Mr. Cornyn to co-sponsor legislation aimed at stemming the immigrant flood tide. Mr. Cuellar was promptly attacked for his bipartisanship, one local Democratic chairman even calling him “inhumane” while revealing the Obama administration’s covert immigration agenda: “If they made it this far and their parents are already here, why not let them stay?” Of course, doing so will turn Texas from red to blue at taxpayer expense.
Now if that isn’t an election-year sound bite, then what is?
Ken Allard, a retired Army colonel, is a military analyst and author on national-security issues.