Thursday, May 18, 2006


Bush's latest terrible idea

During the Clinton administration, Republicans howled like hyenas about the use of U.S. troops in peacekeeping missions.

There is something to the argument against using troops as peacekeepers. "Peacekeeping" is a fundamentally a policing role rather than a combat role. By training, mentality and institutional arrangement, combat troops are really not well suited to policing. Ideally, police should be an integral part of a community, not heavily armed outsiders who keep order pretty much entirely through the threat of force. And police are closely governed by local civil authorities and the legal system, whereas combat troops represent the state's warmaking power with control by the executive rather than the legal system.

Yet there are times when using troops in this role is unavoidable. A human rights crisis -- genocide in the Balkans and Africa are the recent examples -- may provide an overwhelming justification for setting aside scruples against using troops in a police role.

And troops have to be used in this role as a limited-term, transitional occupation force following a war.

Note, however, that this use of troops is always abroad, never at home. Calling out the national guard domestically is a remedy for a breakdown of civil society or natural disaster, and borders on a declaration of martial law. It really is, or should be, a remedy of last resort in our free society.

Bush the Boy President has a real penchant for using troops as police. In contrast to the use of troops as occupation police in, say, post-WWII Germany, he has deployed U.S. armed forces in a policing role in Iraq on an open-ended basis, with no exit timetable -- or even, it seems, an exit strategy.

And this latest idea to deploy 6,000 national guard troops as border police is a terrible precedent. Aside from it being a bad idea as a police stopgap -- how many excessive force shooting deaths are we going to see from this? -- clandestine border crossings are a problem that isn't going away any time soon. So Bush is basically getting our society accustomed to the idea of an armed state -- armed forces policing domestically in peacetime.

If we find 20 or 30 years hence that our country has taken on attributes of a military dictatorship, you can tell your grandkids that it started here.

Twenty or thirty, eh? I saw the trailer for A Scanner Darkly on Tuesday (i.e., next decade, everything we do is watched) and got a chuckle out of my Reaganite boss by cracking wise about how Philip K. Dick was behind the times...
I think you are right. Parts of the Constitution are being dismantled and redefined daily.
Look on the bright side. That's 6000 able-bodied American troops that Rumsfeld can't get his hands on to lead to the slaughter.
Very little is said in the debate about immigration about the failures of Nafta, the corruption of Mexican social policies, and the Mexican debt.
These factors have impoverished millions of Mexicans-making their choice for a better life turn northward.
Good post.

I was pleasantly surprised and pleased that Schwarzenegger told Bush that it was a bad idea. I hope this is a continuing and growing trend, Republicans becoming more vocal with their "non-loyal" opinions.
Too good to pass up:

msnsa (MSNsa): The Bill Gates chapter of Mensa. He loved being a member of Mensa, but something about the name didn't sit well with him.
Hi Oscar,

A few points:

--The big objection Republicans had to the myriad peacekeeping missions under President Clinton was not so much that the military is unsuited but rather that the missions themselves could not be justified as being in our national self-interest.

--President Eisenhower sent in federal troops (101st airborne) to Little Rock back in the 1950's and we arn't a police state yet.

--President Bush is a politician. Politicians like to please their constituancies. There are lots of folks (especially in border states)who want the area secured. Congratulations! You caught a politician commiting politics.
dbp: As I recall, there was also a Communist "witch hunt" going on in the 50's and we came really close to being a police state. And do you also need to be reminded of what happened with National Guard troops and students at Kent State University?


abduesk: doing abdominal crunches under your desk at work.
The comparison to sending the 101st airborne into Little Rock is poorly thought out. What was the mission, DBP?

From the Esienhower archives: "When Governor Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School to keep the nine students from entering the school, President Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to insure the safety of the 'Little Rock Nine' and that the rulings of the Supreme Court were upheld."

Far from being a mandate to enforce the law against private individuals, it was direct federal opposition to the state's use of its force machinery to violate federal law and oppress a racial minority. Nor was it an open-ended mission, like this border patrol caper...
the question is: how many folks will be howling when the dutch and canadian governments erect fences and institute military patrols to keep us out, as we flee the bush administration and attempt a little illegal emigration of our own!


hschjtbrv == high school jitterbug rave
Warren, sorry to be geographically challenged, but where do we share a border with Holland?


mfdwux - a fleetingly popular hair pomade, used primarily for spiking hair and mohawks.
Hi Oscar,

I chose the Little Rock case for a couple of reasons: I wanted to choose a case where I figured you would approve of and I wanted it to be under a Republican President, just to be as non-partisan as possible. History doesn't allways offer the "perfect" example.

In the 101st Airborn example, the Federal Government was forcing its will on an individual State. The state and local Arkansas officials were certainly doing what they did because that is what the voters there wanted them to do. I think we will both agree that the Federal Government was right to take this action. My point was that it wasn't so much about the use or non-use of military forces. The use of military forces was right becuse the cause was just. If you thought that keeping aliens from illegaly entering our frontier was morally just, how would that color your opinion about the use of National Guard troops to accomplish that task?

These National Guard troops will continue to be under the command of the states where they operate and will be engaged in the most traditional activity for military forces. Keeping the border secure from invasion is the only thing most nations use their military forces for. Wether it is tanks crossing or just alien civilians, either is a violation of our laws and sovereignty and we have an unquestionable right to do this.

That being said, I don't think it will make much difference in the volume of illegal aliens who come in. They will just use normal border crossings and use tourist visas. There would be two benefits from this: 1. Fewer immigrants dying of thirst in the desert and 2. our officials would have a better idea of who is coming and going.

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