All they needed to complete the farce were the huge black sombreros with tassel fringe. Meeting in Waco, the new "three amigos" -- W, Canada's Paul Martin, and Mexico's Vicente Fox -- got together about a week ago to promise each other continued cooperation. At the end, they announced a "Security and Prosperity Partnership Initiative" which is supposed to stop the flow of terrorists into all three nations, further increase the flow of commerce across mutual borders, and increase cooperation on the environment and bioterrorism. Forget Social Security for the moment. This "continued cooperation" crisis is undeniable. Such exercises in empty rhetoric have become a threat to our national security. Doesn't anyone in the White House know that you can't "continue" something that hasn't yet begun? This new "initiative" does much more harm than good, because it papers over serious problems we have with our closest neighbors.
Take Canada, please. It is unfortunate (in so many ways) that Pierre Trudeau came first. Had he not, Paul Martin could have been Canada's first "French" prime minister just as Lil' Billy was America's first "black" president. Martin has been working hard to achieve that status. Canada has opposed us at every turn on Iraq, and Martin takes some perverse pride at having rejected Canadian participation in ballistic missile defense. He's performing exactly as you'd expect the typical ecume d'etang Frenchman would. Adding insult to injury, Martin said recently that before America could defend itself from incoming ICBMs, we would have to get Canada's permission to shoot them down over the top of the world if any of the debris might fall on Canadian turf. One of the senior officers in what's left of Canada's military should remind Martin of the principal principle our guys apply in defending America: it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Which, for any Quebecois who may read this, translates to, "shoot first and ask questions later."
Martin cares far more about our import restrictions on softwood lumber and Canadian beef than about Iraq or border security. And, like the Frenchmen he emulates, Martin believes there should be no consequences for any political blows he chooses to land on W's chin. Canadian beef imports are banned due to outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalitis -- "mad cow" disease -- in Canada. The president should urge the FDA to take its sweet time to determine when those imports can resume. If beef prices rise, we can import more from Australia which doesn't suffer the testosterone shortage that currently affects Canada. The softwood business should also suffer our benign neglect while Martin remains in office. Which, we hope most sincerely, won't be past the coming elections. Martin is a problem Canada has to solve for itself, and we can safely ignore the tiresome North until it does. Mexico is another matter.
PRESIDENT BUSH HAS ALWAYS turned a blind eye to the problems of Mexico. Now that he's been reelected, he no longer needs to troll the Rio Grande for votes. So why can't he come to grips with the fundamental fact that Mexico and Vicente Fox are a threat to our national security? As much as I support our President, I have lost patience with him on Mexico. It's time to crack down on our southern neighbor.
Vicente Fox -- compared to whom Kofi Annan appears the soul of propriety -- has only one interest in the United States: we are the dumping ground for his impoverished, his criminals, and anyone else who may care to spend a few pesos in Mexico to escape it. It's too easy to get into Mexico (with forged passports that convert citizenship and names from, for example, Jordanian and "Mr. Zarqawi" to Colombian and "Senor Lopez") and even easier to get out. That we buy Mexican oil only makes him, and his cronies, feel more secure. (That same fact emboldens Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, but that is for next Monday.) Fox belittles the problem of terrorists entering the U.S. from Mexico, his government distributes "how to" booklets telling illegals how to get into the U.S. and stay here and he speaks loudly in support of environmental whackos who oppose completing the fence-and-wall structure across the Mexico-California border. Now, he's threatening to use U.S. courts to stop citizens groups from patrolling some border crossings peacefully. Fox says these groups are -- contrary to the reports I've heard -- hunting and killing illegal immigrants.
President Bush almost agreed with Fox. He said, "I'm against vigilantes in the United States of America." Everyone shares that sentiment, but when the government isn't controlling the border -- and when the President seems uninterested in doing so -- citizens who remain within the law and only report illegals crossing the border to the authorities seem like a pretty good idea. To everyone except W and Fox, that is.
Vicente Fox will be out of office in about another year. By failing -- yet again -- to demand that Fox stop the flow of illegals into the U.S., President Bush has assured that the next Mexican president will come into office expecting to continue Fox's practices without reproach or consequences from Washington. Because President Bush has failed, Congress needs to act. It should send the President and Fox a clear message: no "immigration" reform until Mexico stops the flow of illegals into the U.S. No "bracero" temporary worker programs, no nothing. Meanwhile, we'll do everything we can -- up to and including using force -- to bar the entry of illegals into the U.S. We should complete the fence along the California border, and put many guys with large guns all along the border to enforce it. If Judge Chertoff is at all serious about Homeland Security, this should be among his top three priorities.
In the original Three Amigos, our heroes went to a Mexican town to perform their Hollywood act, and were shocked to find that the banditos they encountered in mid-yippee were using real bullets. Somebody ought to slip that DVD into W's player tonight.
TAS contributing editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004).
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