A Memorial Day Meditation On Mesopotamia, Mexico And The Border Problem

On this

Memorial Day
, our

thoughts
are with our

145,000 troops
in Iraq.

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
we`ve been

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
political power.

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.


Drugs
, illegal immigrants, and

Mexican political influence
flow northward.
Mexican-American murderers

escape southward.

But, that`s the nature of borders. They tend to be
trouble.

The best solution to the Border Problem is to not
have any borders. Instead, try being surrounded by
oceans.

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
sides.

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
Review,


Jonah Goldberg
concluded that, to make Canada less
wimpy, the U.S. should blow up Toronto`s 2,000 foot tall
CN Tower.

(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
joke like

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
Problem.

  1. 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.)

  1. "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
    less necessary.

    B. Providing an excellent
    precedent for building a

    fence
    along our Mexican border
    .

  1. "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
as

foreordained
as Iraq`s to be nepotistically
corrupt.)

Further, a few Americans actually know something
about Mexico. Do you know anybody who has ever even been
to Syria?

Unfortunately, Mexico`s manufacturing economy is now
being

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.

Mexico needs reform, which means it must assault its
ancient traditions of

corruption
and elite

favoritism
and mobilize the talents of all its
citizens, instead of

sloughing
its poor off on the U.S.

(Here`s
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
Honduras.

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


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]