Of China, Senator Paul, and the terrible price of open borders

Although this week’s report about the Chinese military hacking into U.S. government and business websites and last Sunday’s appearance of Senator Rand Paul on FOX News — calling for President Obama to acknowledge he cannot kill a U.S. citizen in the United States with a drone — seem unrelated to the issue of borders, they are really quite pertinent to that topic.

What the Chinese military seems to have done is to penetrate a border of sorts, an electronic one that is meant to protect sensitive U.S. defense and business materials stored on computer systems. That the Chinese are doing this is no surprise. They have been at it for a while, as have Western governments. Recall the reported U.S.-Israel cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the repeated attacks by amateur hackers on Western banks, credit card companies, media outlets, and government offices.

In the present case, the detailed report published about the Chinese attacks seems to be raising a good deal of ire in the American public and among some elected and unelected federal officials. And it should. Our sovereign electronic border — if you will — has been wantonly violated by a foreign power with the intent to cause America harm, or at least to prepare China to cause us harm in the future. The Chinese attack seems likely to cause a tightening of our electronic defenses, which is all to the good.

Most of the American ire over the wanton Chinese attack on our cyber border, however, disappears when it comes to the reality that so many other of our foes have wantonly and consistently penetrated our old-fashioned land and coastal borders. And this is where Senator Paul’s words are pertinent. On FOX News, Senator Paul was worried about President Obama — and presumably his successors — using a drone to kill a U.S. citizen inside the United States. This is a legitimate point, or would have been if the Senator’s concern was not coming at far too late a date.

Unfortunately for our country, Senator Paul’s worry about the use of drones inside the United States is already long overtaken by events. Thirty and more years of uncontrolled land and coastal borders means two things: (a) we have no idea how many of our enemies or their surrogates are in America, and (b) we have no idea what kind of weaponry those enemies already have cached either in the United States or just across the border in Mexico and Canada.

While American politicians have for 30 years argued over “immigration reform,” they have ignored the fact that the only important concern vis-a-vis U.S. borders is their fundamental and direct relation to national defense. That consideration comes first, last, and always; all other concerns about the border are overwhelmingly less important. And because we have done nothing to protect ourselves by controlling our borders, we will at some point in the not too distant future see the a president not only using drones inside the United States, but also using martial law to maintain order and causing federal law to be changed to allow U.S. military forces to operate inside the country.

If you think this is far-fetched it is only because you have been lulled to sleep by the mainstream media and the politicians, all of whom know but will not speak about the vital role controlled borders must play in national defense.

The truth is, though, that none of us need the media, the politicians, or ribbon-bedecked general officers to tell us the obvious. America lost the war in Iraq because we could not or would not close Iraq’s borders to incoming mujahideen. We lost the Afghan war because we failed to even consider closing the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have lost the war on drugs because we have failed to control our own borders. The Syrian regime of Bashir al-Asaad is losing its war because it can no longer control its borders and stop the incoming flow of Islamist fighters. Israel is facing a substantial future threat because the Arab tyrants are no longer there to control their side of the borders they share with Israel. In short, uncontrolled borders inevitably lead to disaster.

And America will be no exception to this hard-and fast rule. Beyond the millions of undocumented aliens now in America, the U.S. government has for the 30 years conducted an interventionist foreign policy that has threatened and bullied foreign countries and movements — many of which clearly merit bullying if not severe punishment — and has thereby earned an often intense enmity among them.

During the same period, the U.S. government left our borders uncontrolled, and unless our enemies are idiots — and they are not — they have taken advantage of those open borders to prepare for the day when they can (a) no longer abide U.S. bullying or threats or (b) Washington undertakes direct military action against them. Does anyone seriously believe that Iran and the Sunni Islamist movement have not taken advantage of our open borders to insert fighters and weapons into the United States? Does anyone really buy the FBI’s traditional mantra that “we have not found them in America so they are not here”? Isn’t it just commonsense that America’s enemies — who have not a ghost’s chance in a stand-up fight with the U.S. military — would prepare themselves to exact revenge by being prepared to cause carnage inside the United States? And would it not likewise have been commonsense for Washington to have controlled its borders as long as it was intent on conducting an interventionist foreign policy that it knows alienates much of the world?

At day’s end we can probably defend ourselves effectively against the Chinese cyber attacks. We are aware of and angered by them, and are pretty good at such warfare ourselves. But, alas, it is far too late to protect ourselves against the domestic violence that will occur in the United States because we have failed to control our borders. There is no doubt that our enemies’ fighters and ordnance are already here; the only question is when they will choose to use them. When they do, Senator Paul’s legitimate concerns about protecting the rights of U.S. citizens inside the United States will be washed away by martial law, dictatorial presidential power, and domestic U.S. military operations — all of which will be the yield of uncontrolled borders and the easy opportunities they gave our enemies to prepare for war in North America.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.