Monday, July 19, 2010
Troubled border with Mexico gets White House attention
News that hundreds of U.S. National Guard soldiers and border protection agents have been sent to the Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants and illicit cargo from crossing into the United States is both welcome and unwelcome at the same time. While a stronger U.S. response to rising reports of drug-related violence in border regions is long overdue, excessive reliance on the military to resolve the nation's problems is extraordinarily ill-advised. Nobody can seriously oppose using soldiers to stop violence from heavily armed drug gangs that is spilling over into U.S. border cities, as the Reuters international news service is reporting, but using soldiers to do what diplomats should have been doing in talks with the Mexican government should be prevented. The United States has plenty of leverage with Mexico City to pressure that government to better its border enforcement and to direct more of its oil wealth to better the lives of its citizens so they won't be forced by economics to flee. That people are forced to leave their country and live second-class lives in another place to provide food for their families should be an issue of paramount importance to countries around the world. But excessive reliance on the military has taken an unacceptable toll on the United States both economically and philosophically. This country has compromised some of its most basic principles in pursuit of military dominance in other parts of the world. The historic changes in Washington have so far been unable to reverse that trend, and we will all be a lot worse for it.