A Memorial Day Meditation On Mesopotamia, Mexico And The Border Problem
Unfortunately, as we`ve all learned since their great
victory, the Department of Defense civilian brain trust
made no realistic plans about what would happen in Iraq
after they got their money shot of the toppling statue.
"Hey," the American Enterprise Institute
refugees in the Pentagon reasoned, "We`re The
Proposition Nation, right? So, the Iraqis will love
us for our propositions, and then … uh … well, they`ll
live democratically ever after. Or something like that!"
I realize I`m being unconservative. After all, as
informed repeatedly over the last year, the essence
of true conservatism is no longer Burkean prudence.
Instead, it`s having the government plunge wildly into
situations it knows next to nothing about based on
abstract ideological theories.
At least one outcome of the war, though, was quite
predictable: our current border problems with
Syria and Iran. Contraband and people have been smuggled
in from Syria. Iran has been allegedly whipping up
ethnic tensions within Iraq in an attempt to grab
But UPI`s Richard Sale has
reported (May 2) that Karl Rove vetoed an attack on
Syria, since it didn`t fit in his meticulous plan for
the President`s re-election. And the Washington
Post`s Glenn Kessler has just
revealed that that the Administration now plans to
push by indirect means for regime change in Iran.
(“U.S. Eyes Pressing Uprising in Iran,” May 25).
Of course, all the border transgressions that the
Administration is so concerned about in the Middle East
happen every day on our
frontier with Mexico.
But, that`s the nature of borders. They tend to be
The best solution to the Border Problem is to not
have any borders. Instead, try being surrounded by
You`ll like it. There`s a reason that Australians
have traditionally called their country the Happy Land.
The U.S., of course, has been blessed with oceans on two
In contrast, our new Mesopotamian satrapy, which
borders six countries, is in a tough neighborhood.
The next best solution: have a neighbor like
Canada—civilized, prosperous, and peaceful.
Of course, not all Americans are satisfied with
Canada`s untoughness. In a
cover story in last November 25th`s National
Jonah Goldberg concluded that, to make Canada less
wimpy, the U.S. should blow up Toronto`s 2,000 foot tall
(Jonah later claimed he was being "sarcastic," as if
this was all some dry Andy Kaufman-type put-on. But,
that`s not Jonah`s style of humor. He telegraphs every
Krusty the Klown, with an elbow in the ribs and a
pie in the face. On November 15, four days after this
article came out, NR announced that Jonah was
relieved of his editorship of National Review
Online and kicked upstairs to Editor-at-Large. Does
that mean Mr. Buckley still provides some adult
supervision now and then?)
Unlike Jonah, I`m not calling for America to stage
military assaults on either of our neighbors. Clearly,
though, the close parallels between our new troubles
with Syria/Iran and our traditional troubles with Mexico
are not coincidental.
There are three general ways to deal with the Border
- Conquer the country on the other side.
There are a number of difficulties with this, but the
major one is that it often doesn`t solve the Border
Problem—it just shifts it outward, diluting the forces
available to pacify the occupied lands and making them
more vulnerable to infiltration, thus requiring the
conquest of even more countries later. (See the
history of Duchy of Muscovy over the last
half-millennium for many grim examples.)
- "Good fences make good neighbors."
Build a fence. That`s what the Israelis did around the
Gaza Strip. It has almost completely shut off the influx
of suicide bombers.
Another example: If you`re an old-timer, you might
remember the endless brouhaha in the 1970s over the
Western Sahara. When Spain pulled out in 1976, the King
of Morocco sent 350,000 civilians,
Camp of the Saints–style, into that God-forsaken
hellhole to seize it before the locals could vote in a
U.N. referendum on their fate. Algeria then organized
the Polisario guerillas to sneak in to Western Sahara,
driving armed pick-up trucks. They soon had the Moroccan
Army on the run. Morocco, though, struck back by
building a thousand-mile wall of sand. Not too high
tech, but enough to defuse Polisario. (Here`s
War Nerd`s amusing account of Morocco`s border wars.)
So let`s build a fence along the borders with Syria
and Iran. This would have two good effects:
A. Making additional wars
B. Providing an excellent
precedent for building a
fence along our Mexican border.
"Diplomacy" i.e. carrots and sticks
to persuade the bordering country to change. Secretary
Powell has announced that he can get Syria to reform
without war. If true, that would be nice.
But a far more important—and far more
promising—candidate for American-induced reform is
Mexico. We need Mexico to get its act together so
that Mexicans can make a decent living at home rather
than having to
sneak illegally into the U.S.
Mexico`s problems, severe as they are, are not as
dire as the Muslim Arab countries. But Mexico has a much
greater impact on us.
Recently, Mexico has made respectable progress in
building a manufacturing base and in opening its
political system to competition. (Also, Mexico`s
rate of inbreeding is very low, so its people aren`t
foreordained as Iraq`s to be nepotistically
Further, a few Americans actually know something
about Mexico. Do you know anybody who has ever even been
Unfortunately, Mexico`s manufacturing economy is now
hammered by competition from China. And that
country, 1.2 billion people with an
average IQ higher than the average Americans, is
only going to become a stronger competitor.
my 2002 UPI interview with the celebrated Peruvian
economist Hernando de Soto on how Mexico could prosper.)
Helping reform Mexico would cost us
money. But just a fraction of the $75 billion the
Bush Administration has requested for Iraq would go a
long way in Mexico.
Further, we could use smaller Central American
countries like Honduras as test cases.
A billion dollars would buy a lot of carrots in
Ultimately, our attempts to reform Middle Eastern
societies will falter. The locals know they are on the
other side of the Earth from the U.S. They believe we
Americans are likely to get frustrated and go home, as
we did in Lebanon in 1983. So, they think, why cooperate
more than the minimum?
But The U.S.-Mexico border is forever. We`re stuck
with it – and we have to do something about it.
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and