So much for gratitude!
But even this was too offensive here in Mexico, where they are complaining about the militarization of the border—even though the Mexicans have militarized their own border.
The posturing began even before Bush gave his speech. On May 14th, Bush's amigo, Mexican president Vicente Fox, called Jorge on the phone to express his concern. And Bush reassured Fox that the border wasn't being militarized…he was only thinking of sending the National Guard, and not the Army. [ Dialogo Presidente Vicente Fox con su homólogo George W. Bush, Presidencia de la Republica—May 14th, 2006]
Hey, I'm in the National Guard. The Texas Army National Guard. Our uniforms don't say "National Guard", they say "U.S. Army." When we went to Iraq, they said "U.S. Army".
Some of our soldiers died there, and that's what their uniforms said too.
But if Bush thought he could insult the National Guard in order to make Mexico happy, he was sorely mistaken. They don't even want us lowly Guardsmen near the border!
The Fox administration is assuring folks that the border is not being militarized. But Mexicans don't seem to believe it.
Mexican Senator Ricardo Gomez (PRI) charged the Fox administration with being "lukewarm" in confronting the U.S. [Oposición: tibia postura Mexicana ante militarizacion, by Ricardo Gomez May 16th, 2006 Universal]
And the president of the Camara de diputados [Mexican House Of Representatives], a member of Fox's own PAN party, expressed his "rejection of this militarization, to this…unilateral determination…" [ Rechaza presidencia de la Cámara de diputados decisión de Bush, Jorge Herrera, Universal, May 16th, 2006]
In order to assure worried Mexicans, Foreign Minister Derbez said that if National Guard troops actually detain illegal aliens, then Mexican diplomats would fight it in the U.S. court system. [ México irá ante justicia de EU si Guardia Nacional hace arrestos, EFE, May 16th, 2006]
In fact, right now the U.S. military is not authorized to detain illegal aliens. But what if it were? You can bet the Mexican government would fight it tooth and nail.
The Mexican government opposes ANY U.S. attempt to control our borders.
Does the U.S. have the right to militarize the border?
Of course. The U.S. is a sovereign country. It doesn't need Mexico's permission to put troops on its own border.
Even Article XVI of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which legally established most of today's U.S.-Mexican border in 1848, stipulated that
"Each of the contracting parties [Mexico and the United States] reserves to itself the entire right to fortify whatever point within its territory it may judge proper so to fortify for its security."
The 1853 Gadsden Purchase Treaty does not abrogate this Article. In fact, Article V of the Gadsden Purchase Treaty specifically states that Article XVI of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty is still in effect.
And the border is already militarized—on the Mexican side.
Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez admits that there are Mexican troops on the border. In fact, he's even boasted about it.
In an interview with El Universal, Derbez tried to downplay the deployment of National Guard troops to the border. Here's how El Universal explains Derbez' view of the National Guard:
"In an interview with El Universal, Foreign Minister Derbez guaranteed that the Americans who will be deployed to the border are 'civilian sector persons', although he admitted that they had been trained by the Pentagon and had even participated in the Iraq conflict. 'They answer to the governor and are not part of the regular Army' he mentioned."
[En entrevista con EL UNIVERSAL, el canciller Derbez aseguró que los elementos estadounidenses que serán desplegados en la frontera son "personas del sector civil", aunque aceptó que han sido entrenados por el Pentágono e incluso han participado en el conflicto de Irak. "Responden al gobernador y no son parte del Ejército regular", mencionó.]
"He [Derbez] pointed out that, in contrast to the United States, Mexico does have regular Army troops on the border. ' These are real soldiers' he said, although he added that this can't be interpreted as militarization of the border either."
[Señaló que, a diferencia de Estados Unidos, México sí tiene tropas del Ejército regular en la frontera. "Esos sí que son soldados", expresó, aunque añadió que tampoco debe ser interpretado como militarización]. [ Envío de soldados no es militarizar: Bush y Derbez, By Jose Carreño y Carlos Benavides, May 17th, 2006]
How could it get onto U.S. soil if they weren't on the border to begin with?
The reality is that the Mexican Army is used extensively throughout Mexico to carry out police functions. Like checkpoints. I've been stopped at Mexican Army checkpoints in various parts of Mexico. It's standard operating procedure.
In fact, on one of my main routes to the U.S. border, there is a permanent Mexican Army checkpoint. I've been through it numerous times. The bus routinely stops there, the passengers are removed and luggage examined. There's nothing unusual about it.
Mexican territory is divided into 12 military regions, and subdivided into 44 military zones. This arrangement includes 11 military garrisons on the northern Mexican border. The 11 garrisons are located at Tecate, San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonoyta, Agua Prieta, Ciudad Juarez, Ojinaga, Palomas, Ciudad Acuña, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros.
The Mexican Secretariat Of National Defense website has a list of "Commandancias Territoriales". This section includes all the military regions, zones and garrisons under "Regiones Militares", "Zonas Militares" and "Guarniciones Militares". [Map])
That's the northern border. Way over in the state of Chiapas which borders Guatemala, the Mexican army is used to apprehend illegal immigrants.
There is even a joint task force called BOM (Base de Operaciones Mixtas, in which the Army and the local police cooperate to detain illegal aliens.
But if we put the U.S. Army on the border, wouldn't some ugly international incident ensue?
There already are "ugly international incidents" on the border. Life on the U.S. border is already an ongoing, day-by-day, chaos.
There are illegal aliens crossing daily, there are drug traffickers and people smugglers, there are incursions by the Mexican Army and who knows who else. There are criminal actions perpetrated against American citizens, against Mexican citizens, and against the illegal aliens themselves.
And putting the military on the border would make it worse?
When I was in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard, we were serving alongside other Army units, other branches of the U.S. military, and the militaries of allied nations. I worked for 4 months as a liaison with the Italian army. One of my responsibilities was to avoid friendly fire incidents. (And none occurred on my watch!).
In order to facilitate this, all of Iraq was parceled out among the various units and armies. There were clear lines of demarcation. There were lines between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force zones, between U.S. forces and the Italian Army, the British Army, and so forth.
In the border region there is also a line of demarcation. It's called the U.S.-Mexican border. The problem is our government won't secure the border.
It's not the fault of the rank and file Border Patrol agents, who are doing a great job under tough circumstances.
The fault is our federal government's, which won't back up the Border Patrol and put the needed assets on the border.
Nature abhors a vacuum. The U.S. government has decided to abdicate its responsibility. That's why the border is a lawless place. That's why you have thousands of illegal invaders, drug runners, Mexican military incursions, and who knows what else on our side of the border.
Therefore, the "militarization of the border" is nothing to fear. Getting control of the border (our side) would show Mexico we are serious.
There are various ways to go about it. What's necessary is a clear chain of command and division of labor among the U.S. military, immigration authorities and local police.
So let's militarize the border. We can rotate troops in and out all year round. Halliburton subsidiary KBR could even construct military bases on the border. National Guardsmen could do their annual training while guarding the border. They could buy souvenir t-shirts for their families that say "My dad went to guard the border and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". Sounds like a win-win proposal to me.
Fox and Derbez and company would whine and shout and threaten for a while. But if we got control of our border they would have to accept it.
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.