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The Collective
Monday, May 15, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via WaPo we learn: Bush Set To Send Guard to Border:

Officials suggested their mission would be to play a supporting role by providing intelligence, training, transportation, construction and other functions, while leaving the actual guarding of the 2,000-mile line separating the United States and Mexico to the Border Patrol. The National Guard would be a stopgap force until the federal government could hire civilian contractors to take over administrative and support functions from the Border Patrol, freeing more agents to actually hunt for immigrants slipping into the country.

One of my first reactions is: doesn’t the Guard already have more than enough on its plate at this point in time? And, second: is this really the kind of thing that the Guard was created for and is trained to do?

From there I lapse into high cynicism: if this is a temporary, stopgap move doesn’t that indicate that this is pure politics? Is this not playing to the base that is quite upset about immigration in the context of sinking poll numbers and a pending mid-term election?

Clearly, Bush has lost control of this issue. For years he was focused primarily on the economic aspects of the issue, and was the champion of a guest-worker program. Now, all of a sudden, it has been discovered that his poll numbers are in the low thirties that there is a need for an immediate “stopgap” deployment of troops to the border to shore up the Border Patrol.

As James Joyner notes:

Our inability to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the border virtually at will is longstanding. The impact of augmenting the border patrol for some fixed period, even if relatively effective, would end the second forces are withdrawn unless the Border Patrol is beefed up to a commensurate level in the interim.

Might I also note that we have the finest and most impressive military force in the world, if not in all of time, but they are not a catch-all tool that can be deployed to fix every problem. Rhetoric about “invasions” and “reconquests” aside, this is not a military problem. It is primarily an issue of economics and also a law enforcement problem. Of all the complicated things that it is, a military issue it is not.

Further, I would James’ post last week on this question, wherein he correctly states:

It is a bedrock principle of American politics that the military does not get involved in domestic policing under any but the gravest of conditions. Peacetime standing armies were anathema until necessitated by the enduring Cold War. We even have a provision in the Bill of Rights precluding quartering of troops in private homes.

This reluctance to politicize the military stems from the abuses seen in Europe and domestically during the Colonial era and has been reinforced time and again by observation of the developing world, where professional militaries are the only trusted institution and not infrequently assume the reins of power.

Short of an armed invasion from Mexico, it is simply bizarre to consider militarizing the border.

Kingdaddy also has a good post on this subject, in which he lists a series of potential reasons that might be motivating the President. As he notes, none of them are especially comforting.

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Filed under: US Politics, Border Security | |

2 Comments

  1. but they are not a catch-all tool that can be deployed to fix every problem.

    How dare you insult the troops, Steven! By being critical of Bush’s attempt to secure the homeland, you are placing our troops’ morale in jeapordy!

    Comment by Baol — Monday, May 15, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  2. What we have here is a case of government by talk radio. Bill O’Reilly and Michelle Malkin are driving the agenda of the President of the United States and the Republican Party. Sad and pathetic, really.

    There is a problem, no doubt. This is the solution?

    Comment by Pug — Monday, May 15, 2006 @ 10:50 am

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