Yesterday, the president took us one step closer to reorienting our national security priorities by announcing his intention both to withdraw our troops from Syria in the near future and send National Guard troops to our own border. Isn’t it time to guard our sovereignty rather than the “sovereignty” of Islamic tribal factions in nation-states that no longer exist?
A much stronger case for using our military on our own border than in Syria
If you declare at a policy meeting in Washington that we must keep troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria indefinitely, nobody will bat an eyelash. Nobody will ask what our security interest is, how we can referee an untenable tribal and Sunni-Shiite Islamic civil war, or what the end game is. Quite the contrary: You would be considered smart for expressing such an opinion. However, were the same person to express support for using our military on our border and to create a buffer zone against the Mexican drug cartels, somehow you would be looked at as a lunatic. “Can you even use your military for such a thing?” they would ask?
Trump’s moves to call up the National Guard to help patrol the border and to use defense funding for a border wall have been met with wild-eyed skepticism by the political class. But it’s pure common sense and a more legitimate constitutional and prudential use of our national security assets than our urban renewal projects in Islamic civil war combat zones, which get our soldiers killed for nothing. National security and the purpose of the military begins with homeland security, even if it doesn’t end there. Hasn’t the time come to treat the drug-smuggling and downright human invasion crisis from our border like the national security threat that it is?
Even if we somehow found a solution to “stabilizing” Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan – quite an impossible feat, given the tribal warfare – the primary security threat at stake for our homeland is through immigration. Yet, ironically, it is the endless wars that have made us feel guilty enough to bring in record numbers of immigrants from those countries, thereby undermining the entire premise of involving our military there in the first place. But how come nobody in the political class has expressed interest in stabilizing Mexico? It is right on our border, and much of the land is controlled by the most violent drug cartels in the world. It is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Mexicans, the bulk of the 60,000-plus drug overdose deaths per year in this country, and thus costs our economy, culture, schools, and hospitals hundreds of billions of dollars.
If not for the black-hole politics of immigration, any clear-headed policymaker would see a greater threat from our southern border, inviting military intervention, than anything we’ve ever done in the Middle East – by a factor of 1,000. The Mexican drug cartels are essentially using weapons of mass destruction with the distribution of fentanyl and now carfentanil into this country. Even most of the fentanyl that is shipped from China is distributed through the Mexican drug cartels and gangs that have now been empowered to operate within our country thanks to open borders, sanctuary courts, and fugitive cities.
The legality of using our military for border security
Unlike most other involvements, which likely cross the demarcation of “offensive expeditions” that George Washington felt required congressional authorization, the use of the military to fight the drug cartels and smuggling is part of “the power to repel sudden attacks” that James Madison and Elbridge Gerry promised at the constitutional convention would be left to the executive.
As long as an inch of our own soil remains unsafe from transnational cartels and smuggling, use of the military to neutralize that threat is the quintessential reason why we have a military in the first place and the most appropriate use of unilateral executive action, according to the Constitution. Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution tasks the federal government with guaranteeing states’ protection against invasion.
Watch for the Left to suddenly discover the Posse Comitatus Act and apply it in this situation, even though both George W. Bush and Barack Obama called out the National Guard at times to deal with a border crisis, as well as previous presidents. The 1878 law was signed by President Grant to prohibit the military from being used to enforce domestic laws and police our streets, absent direct authorization from Congress. However, nobody is suggesting that we use the National Guard to perform functions of ICE and engage in interior enforcement and apprehension. Trump merely plans to use the Guard in tandem with the Border Patrol to support border security against external threats – the archetypal job of a military. Posse Comitatus was designed to prevent the federal government from using the military to enforce Reconstruction-era laws against American citizens in the southern states, not to prevent us from dealing with a border invasion.
Moreover, in this case, the president is implementing the plan in conjunction with the border state governors, who will maintain control over their respective guard units, though the funding will come from the feds. However, if liberal governors don’t cooperate, as Oregon Governor Kate Brown has threatened, Trump has the full authority to completely federalize the use of the Guard for the border in the same way he can call it up to go to Afghanistan against the wishes of the governor.
How many tens of thousands of people need to die because it’s profitable to businesses and politicians on both side of the border to continue this border chaos and the drug-smuggling?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.