Defending America

Republican Congressman Mike Turner told TV host Tucker Carlson that the U.S . should come to the aid of Ukraine, which faces a growing military threat from Russia. But why should we support Ukraine over Russia, asked Carlson, given Russia’s far greater importance as a counter weight to a military expansive and somewhat threatening China?

Moreover, he added, the U.S  is currently challenged on the Mexican border where people we don’t know and drugs we know all too well are pouring across in unprecedented numbers. That’s where U.S.troops are needed, not as the Republicans imply, in Ukraine for some vague reason having nothing to do with the national interest. And why should our troops be defending other countries’ borders and not our own?

The U.S. Mexican border has been one of the world’s most contentious. It is long – 2000 miles through occasional difficult terrrain. Its boundary is the Rio Grande, a meandering river that sometimes changes course, leaving Mexicans and Americans on the wrong side. It has never been free of strife of one kind or another from early Indian raids to alternating Mexican and American cross border attacks to the current invasion of drugs and immigrants. In an explosion of manifest destiny in the 1840’s, the U.S. took half of Mexico. That more than sufficed. Ever since, it has been very wary of pushing Mexico too hard.

The result is limited use of the U.S. military. There’s a reluctance to militarize the border with the army invariably complaining that it doesn’t have enough troops to guard the border properly. While unsettling, that has not mattered too much except on some occasions like the arrival of Napoleon the Third to collect debts owed by Mexico. With the U.S. involved in  Civil War, he decided to take over Mexico altogether and installed Austrian Archduke Maximilian as emperor. The U.S. and France almost came to blows, but Napoleon throught Mexico was not worth a war and retreated to deal with European affairs, leaving his well meaning protege to be executed.

Pancho Villa Photo by: www.britannica.com

Subsequent clashes were purely Mexican-American. Political upheaval was frequent in Mexico, and restless Texans were ready to take advantage of it. Amid the fervor of the times, a plan was circulated with the aim of recovering the half of Mexico lost to the U.S. The fiery Pancho Villa put his stamp on the effort by repeatedly conducting raids across the border that took American along with Mexican lives. As the U.S. readied for World War One, President Woodrow Wilson ordered General John Pershing to capture Villa with 20 thousand troops at his disposal  Pershing became a victor in the World War but not in Mexico. The elusive Villa managed to escape, and the Americans came home without their quarry.

General John Pershing. Photo by: www.pbs.org

But the effort was not altogether in vain. It had made a point. The U.S army could cross the border if sufficiently motivated, take the necessary action and than return without staying too long – a limited engagement, not an invasion. There would be no repetition of the U.S.- Mexican war. Americans only had a quarrel with elements of Mexico, and that ended a few years later when Villa was killed by rivals who had nothing to do with the U.S.

In subsequent decades, border disturbances died down only to be revived more recently in another form. Instead of wanting to kill Americans, Mexicans now want to join them. Their plight is their drug cartel controlled country where their lives and livelihood are always in danger. U.S. troops once again on the border could send a clear message to the cartels: there are limits to their poisoning of America and their destruction of Mexico.

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