Drugs and Migrants on the March

A surge is when Grant took Richmond. It doesn’t describe the more refined tactics of the Mexican drug cartels in their effort to outwit the outmanned U.S. Border Patrol as they push drugs and migrants across the border. Seizing on President Biden’s more lenient immigration policies, they have sent clusters of desperate Mexicans and others into strategic openings along the 2,000 mile border, popping up here and there, day and night to the consternation of frustrated guards.

More than in the Trump era, migrants are piling up in overcrowded facilities which the Biden Administration has tried to conceal from prying media eyes in an information crackdown that is new to the border. One exception is Catholic Charities whose shelter in McAllen, Texas, houses hundreds of migrants in reasonably comfortable conditions. What’s that long line? I asked. They’re going to breakfast.

Catholic Charities immigrant center, McAllen, TX

Vice President Kamala Harris has been in contact with Central American leaders to determine the “root cause” of the enhanced migration. She doesn’t have to look very far. When questioned, migrants say they are fleeing the violence for the safety of the U.S. The drug cartels who are threatening their lives are also encouraging them to leave. It’s very profitable. They charge as much as $25 thousand per migrant, and they control the whole border on the Mexican side. You don’t pay, you don’t cross, and maybe you don’t continue to live.

As usual, the American media has little to say about the role of the cartels in the current “crisis” or “challenge.” That’s because American drug consumers, abetted by American money launderers, keep the cartels in business. Stop the drug traffic, and the border would clear up. But too many are making too much money for that to happen.

The U.S doesn’t have to be quite so tolerant of the cartels. They are more aggressive than ever. A group of U.S. senators boating on the Rio Grande that divides the two countries were startled by cartels taunting them from the other side. Goodness me! The cartels knew what they were doing. Nothing to fear from U.S. officialdom.

It does seem strange that the U.S. sends its military to obscure places all over the world to preserve borders, but won’t put troops on its own border in defense of the country against a genuine threat. When traffickers toss a couple of small children over the fence on to U.S. soil, we simply watch them do it. Then off they scamper. If U.S. soldiers went over the fence in pursuit and apprehended them even if it meant venturing into the interior, long suffering Mexicans under cartel rule would only applaud. We need a clear view of what is in the national interest on the border.

The Putin Problem

In an interview President Biden called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a “killer.” What does that mean exactly? Does Putin randomly kill people the way, say, the Mexican cartels do south of the U.S. border? Has he killed more people abroad than the U.S. has in its numerous wars since 9/11? Or is Biden speaking in a more metaphorical way about killing hopes amd dreams? In that case the President is rather imprecise, a risky behavior among heads of state with control of nuclear weapons that can end the world.

Putin laughed it off by challenging Biden to a debate. The American media was more serious and seemed to back the President. This contrasts with the media of the Stalinist years which tended to lavish praise on one of the world’s worst mass murderers during the 1930’s and wartime ’40’s. Acclaimed leftwing writer Max Eastman couldn’t get published anywhere because he supported Communist leader Leon Trotsky over Stalin – the cancel culture of the time.

In comparison to Stalin Putin is a minor impediment to U.S. and indeed global interests. Shorn of Stalin’s acquisitions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, he seems intent on preserving what’s left in a reinvigorated Russia. That means he is a familiar figure, a nationalist leader both autocratic and skillful. U. S. policy can be tailored to that situation. Unlike Stalin, and some would say the U.S. today, he has not embarked on expansion, just holding his own.

He has some grounds for complaint. As the Soviet Union dissolved in 1989, then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker made a trade with Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev: Russia would surrender control of East Gernany to a reunited Germany in exchange for a U.S pledge not to extend the NATO alliance eastward toward Russia. That was violated during the Clinton Presidency, and ever since NATO has been expanding and contemplates adding still more small countries on Russia’s border.

At the height of the Cold War the fervently anticommunist Reagan Administration made sure economic sanctions affecting the Soviet Uinion were limited and carefully targeted because of international opposition. In today’s more permissive environment, the U.S. has freely resorted to their routine use. President Trump, in particular, made them a substitute for an outright war he pledged not to start. In fact, by crippling an economy, they are injurious to the people, not to the leadership who rarely change their policies. It’s really a feel-good effort on the part of the sanctioners.

There’s no doubt the other two great nuclear powers – China and Russia – will continue to compete with the U.S. and look for advantages where they can. For this the U.S. must stay geopolitically alert with minds up to the job, but military action should be a last resort and threats issued with care. There has been one helpful change. Today the U.S rivals are rational exercisers of power with their own interests clearly in view, not the feverish unpredictable ideologues that wrecked the world in the last century.