When other countries feel threatened by terrorism, their leaders do the most prudent thing they can think of: They deploy military forces along their borders, to help prevent infiltration.
They figure, and rightly so, there is no force better equipped and trained to defend their sovereign territory. More so than police, federal agents, and volunteer civilians, however well-intended they may be.
That’s why it wasn’t surprising to me to read this past weekend that Russian defense officials – increasingly concerned about terrorists infiltrating from neighboring Georgia, where tensions have been growing – ordered a beefed up military presence along the common border.
“[Russian Defense Minister] Sergei Ivanov said in televised remarks that the additional motorized infantry units would be deployed alongside border guards to help seal the frontier against ‘terrorists’ infiltration to Russia from the territory of Georgia,’” said a report in Pravda. “Russia long has accused Georgia of failing to uproot Chechen rebels on its territory and prevent them from crossing the rugged mountainous border into Chechnya, where Russian forces are battling insurgents in a second war in a decade.”
The geopolitics of Russia’s war against the breakaway region of Chechnya notwithstanding, Moscow certainly does have the sovereign right to protect its borders, especially if Russian leaders believe their territory is being infiltrated by enemies of the state.
Now, warp several time zones back to our neck of the woods, where U.S. intelligence officials have also voiced repeated concerns that fanatical Islamic terrorists may be infiltrating from Mexico and Canada.
“We all know that drug dealers know, the terrorists know, that our borders are a sieve,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., has said.
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, adds:
Even if a terrorist is a one-in-a-million occurrence, with several million people coming into the country every year, very soon they reach that critical mass necessary to carry out another attack on the magnitude of September 11th. This is totally unacceptable from the standpoint of homeland security and national security. We have to gain control of our borders.
Both of these men have pushed for more Border Patrol agents, and that’s fine. But the fact of the matter is, when it comes to defending our borders against a legitimate national security like terrorism, the U.S. military is second-to-none. It has the equipment, the manpower, the training and the logistics to support long-term border defense operations, and it has the ability to deploy within hours.
And yet, while our leaders task that military with orders to protect Afghan and Iraqi borders from terrorist infiltration, our own boundaries remain woefully under-defended by a grossly out-manned and increasingly demoralized Border Patrol. It’s obscene.
“Concern is growing at the top levels of government about the U.S.-Mexican border becoming a back door for terrorists entering the United States,” the Christian Science Monitor reported in March. “While al-Qaida infiltration across the nation’s southern border has been a constant concern since 9-11, U.S. officials cite recent intelligence giving the most definitive evidence yet that terrorists are planning to use it as an entry point – if they haven’t already.”
Orders should have been given by the commander in chief to the defense secretary, within an hour of learning this information, to deploy those military forces necessary to enhance national defense of our porous borders. If, God forbid, there are more terrorist attacks, no excuse will be good enough if the terrorists who launched the attacks simply walked into the country from either Mexico or Canada.
The good news is, we have a chance to get our military involved in border protection. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., has introduced H.R. 1986, a measure that would:
amend Title 10, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Defense to assign members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, under certain circumstances and subject to certain conditions, to assist the Department of Homeland Security in the performance of border protection functions.
Right now, the lefty lawyers in various “civil-rights” groups, as well as some government lawyers within the Justice Department, claim using the military would be a violation of U.S. law, which prohibits using the military as a law enforcement force (as if they aren’t already doing just that in Iraq and Afghanistan). But that’s a politically correct point of view – there is no arguing the fact the military, if deployed in this scenario, can and should be utilized in its traditional role of national defense.
Opposition politicians will decry this measure as authoritarianism on the part of the Bush administration. The military brass will hate it because it will put even more strain on their available forces. But the White House and Congress should resist these complaints and ask themselves if protecting Europe from no one or South Korea from a starving North Korea is more important than preventing another 9-11.
Terrorism counts as a legitimate threat to our national security. The time has come to deploy our military in defense of our borders. If the commander in chief won’t do it, then Goode’s measure should be passed to force his hand. Every day we wait increases the risk more Americans will become victims of terrorism.