Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fortifications and Siegecraft

Bush will soon sign legislation calling for the construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border. I'm reminded of Walt Kelly's observation that doors close on both sides, and W.G. Sebald's remarks on "the insanity of fortifications and siegecraft," which "cast the shadow of their own destruction before them."

Many opponents of the fence argue correctly that it would devastate the Tijuana estuary and other fragile landscapes. This, of course, is in addition to the environmental and humanitarian disasters described in Tim Cahill's terrifying article on illegal border crossings in the Sonoran desert, which the fence is very likely to aggravate.

The election-year theatricality of the bill is obvious. Beyond that, it's a giveaway to defense contractors, who are excited at the thought of throwing taxpayer dollars at an endless, unworkable project, and are gratified that the DHS has been granted the rather breathtaking authority to waive "[environmental and] other laws that might impede the expeditious construction of security infrastructure along the border."

Amazingly, Arizona's Rep. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) has managed to lower the tone of this debate, by calling for mass deportations following the model of Eisenhower's Operation Wetback. He says Eisenhower deported 1.3 million Mexican nationals in less than a year. Actually, despite a fairly relaxed approach to civil rights and due process, Operation Wetback only deported about 80,000. All the same, why couldn't we deport roughly 125 times that many people in the next few years? I mean, besides the fact that we're bankrupt, fighting two wars (and counting), and relying on dirt-cheap labor for our semblance of prosperity?

Speaking of wars, it occurs to me that the simplest way of dealing with illegal immigration may be through a return to impressment. As Rep. John Culberson notes:

"The immigration debate has to be defined in terms of the international war on terror."
Why not kill two birds with one stone, especially given the military's recruitment woes? Shipping out to Iraq is already a fast-track to citizenship, posthumous or otherwise. And Max Boot has already recommended a Freedom Legion - the very name proves there's nothing French about it! - for illegal immigrants:
Some might deride those who sign up as mercenaries, but these troops would have significantly different motives than the usual soldier of fortune.
No doubt. But why give them a choice in the matter? Think how many more casualties we could tolerate in Iraq if we doubled or tripled our number of foreign Freedom fighters! And think of the talented counterinsurgents now languishing in countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala!

Gallows humor aside, Subtopia asks a simple question:
[H]ow is turning over responsibility and control of our border management, our immigration policy, and ultimately, the debate over our own domestic labor practice, to the military going to solve anything?
The short answer is, it's not, and it's not meant to. Americans will pay billions to firms like Boeing for the foreseeable future, so the GOP can pretend that wage slavery isn't the foundation of its economic policy (just as we paid billions for SDI so that the GOP could pretend it was serious about national security). In the meantime, a startling precedent has been set for the waiving of laws that impede the creation of "security infrastructure" by allowing public input into land use.

As usual, the GOP's overheated rhetoric about national security conceals an attack on the only enemy they're truly committed to fighting: the American citizen.

(Photo by John Annerino.)

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