The Southern Border Could Get Much Worse

The southern border of the USA is no longer something that we can ignore or use as a political tool. Successive presidents have failed to control this border for one reason or another, but the escalation of drug cartel violence on the southern side of the border is making the issue of illegal immigration almost an afterthought. It seems that if something doesn't change, we could be looking at an all-out war with Mexican drug cartels.

Police Chief Jeff Kirkham of the border town Nogales, Arizona, told Tucson Channel 9 (ABC) news that he has received threats that the Mexican drug cartels will start using snipers to target on- and off-duty police officers from across the border.



Given the fact that Nogales sits right on the border with the town of Heroica Nogales on the other side, the threat is entirely credible and feasible. Heroica Nogales would provide ample places to hide within sniper range of many parts of Nogales. With an effective range of over one mile, modern rifles could easily target U.S. citizens and police in an eerie echo of the siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian war.

If snipers start setting up shop in Heroica Nogales, we certainly won't be able to count on the Mexican military to take care of the problem. The cartels clearly don't fear the Mexican military, given the enormous intimidation and bribery that they are able to bring to the table. Leaked stories of massive Mexican military corruption and intimidation are commonplace in the border regions.

Given that the Mexican military would be of dubious worth, what options are left for the Obama administration to deal with the problem? Would Obama fire predator missiles into Mexico from drones to take out snipers, or would the risk of a real military conflict with the regular Mexican army and civilian casualties make that option out of the question? Would counter-snipers be employed to take out drug cartel snipers? Given Obama's reluctance to deploy anything more than logistic personnel from the National Guard to the border, the answer is likely "no." If Obama will not authorize return fire, what is the game plan for the police and civilians being shot at from across the border? If Obama did authorize return fire across the border, how would Mexico react to military snipers from our side shooting drug cartel snipers from theirs? Finally, what would the rules of engagement be? Would American military snipers be authorized to take out anyone deemed a threat, or would the life of a police officer or civilian have to be taken before they can fire back? Even the military will admit that counter-sniper operations are complex and fraught with risk.

However dismal the sniper scenario sounds, the problem doesn't stop there. The Mexican drug cartels are exceptionally well-manned and armed with fully automatic AK-47 rifles, RPGs, and standard grenades, none of which are available for sale in the USA. How long before the cartels realize that they have far more men and armament than a border crossing and outright attack the police manning the crossing? It could start with the Mexican border control agents abandoning their post to avoid certain death and end with the cartels attacking a border crossing, thus opening up a floodgate through which tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, narcotics traffickers, criminals, and terrorists could flood into the USA in a matter of hours.

If the Mexican drug cartels stop fighting each other and unite, this scenario could rapidly become a catastrophe. Imagine a wave of violent drug cartels overrunning the border, crossing in Nogales and then the entire town. The most frightening thing is that the scenario is entirely plausible. With a foothold in the USA, the flood of people and narcotics would be virtually unstoppable, and we would end up with an urban war in our own borders.

Make no mistake that America is under an invasion. The army is not that of the Mexican government, but it is an invasion nonetheless. If we continue to turn a blind eye to the situation, it could easily escalate out of control into an international and human catastrophe. We can no longer wait and see what happens on the border and then react to it. Any military strategist will tell you that if you are merely reacting, you are losing.

It's time that we send the American military, not just the National Guard, to the border to defend the USA, as is the responsibility of the federal government. This suggestion is not meant to disparage the Arizona National Guard, but they are simply not built for large-scale combat operations, and this is no longer just a simple law enforcement situation. We need to secure the border with combat troops and convince the Mexican drug cartels that they are better off squabbling with each other than fighting the USA. In fact, if the border becomes so secure that nothing can get through, the cartels will have to find other routes for their drug trade, leave the border area, and improve the lives of law-abiding Mexicans on the other side of the border as well.

In addition to securing the border, it is time for Mexican President Calderón and Obama to meet to discuss the possibilities of worsening assaults on the border and our possible responses to these events before they actually happen. If protocols and understandings are there beforehand, the likelihood of any incident spinning out of control into a war is greatly reduced.

Finally, Obama needs to reprioritize his administration away from attempting to sue Arizona and toward addressing the problem that prompted Arizona to pass the law in the first place. Only after the border is secure should we talk about what to do about illegal immigrants still in the USA and expanding work permit programs for law-abiding Mexicans to make a living here.
The southern border of the USA is no longer something that we can ignore or use as a political tool. Successive presidents have failed to control this border for one reason or another, but the escalation of drug cartel violence on the southern side of the border is making the issue of illegal immigration almost an afterthought. It seems that if something doesn't change, we could be looking at an all-out war with Mexican drug cartels.

Police Chief Jeff Kirkham of the border town Nogales, Arizona, told Tucson Channel 9 (ABC) news that he has received threats that the Mexican drug cartels will start using snipers to target on- and off-duty police officers from across the border.



Given the fact that Nogales sits right on the border with the town of Heroica Nogales on the other side, the threat is entirely credible and feasible. Heroica Nogales would provide ample places to hide within sniper range of many parts of Nogales. With an effective range of over one mile, modern rifles could easily target U.S. citizens and police in an eerie echo of the siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian war.

If snipers start setting up shop in Heroica Nogales, we certainly won't be able to count on the Mexican military to take care of the problem. The cartels clearly don't fear the Mexican military, given the enormous intimidation and bribery that they are able to bring to the table. Leaked stories of massive Mexican military corruption and intimidation are commonplace in the border regions.

Given that the Mexican military would be of dubious worth, what options are left for the Obama administration to deal with the problem? Would Obama fire predator missiles into Mexico from drones to take out snipers, or would the risk of a real military conflict with the regular Mexican army and civilian casualties make that option out of the question? Would counter-snipers be employed to take out drug cartel snipers? Given Obama's reluctance to deploy anything more than logistic personnel from the National Guard to the border, the answer is likely "no." If Obama will not authorize return fire, what is the game plan for the police and civilians being shot at from across the border? If Obama did authorize return fire across the border, how would Mexico react to military snipers from our side shooting drug cartel snipers from theirs? Finally, what would the rules of engagement be? Would American military snipers be authorized to take out anyone deemed a threat, or would the life of a police officer or civilian have to be taken before they can fire back? Even the military will admit that counter-sniper operations are complex and fraught with risk.

However dismal the sniper scenario sounds, the problem doesn't stop there. The Mexican drug cartels are exceptionally well-manned and armed with fully automatic AK-47 rifles, RPGs, and standard grenades, none of which are available for sale in the USA. How long before the cartels realize that they have far more men and armament than a border crossing and outright attack the police manning the crossing? It could start with the Mexican border control agents abandoning their post to avoid certain death and end with the cartels attacking a border crossing, thus opening up a floodgate through which tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, narcotics traffickers, criminals, and terrorists could flood into the USA in a matter of hours.

If the Mexican drug cartels stop fighting each other and unite, this scenario could rapidly become a catastrophe. Imagine a wave of violent drug cartels overrunning the border, crossing in Nogales and then the entire town. The most frightening thing is that the scenario is entirely plausible. With a foothold in the USA, the flood of people and narcotics would be virtually unstoppable, and we would end up with an urban war in our own borders.

Make no mistake that America is under an invasion. The army is not that of the Mexican government, but it is an invasion nonetheless. If we continue to turn a blind eye to the situation, it could easily escalate out of control into an international and human catastrophe. We can no longer wait and see what happens on the border and then react to it. Any military strategist will tell you that if you are merely reacting, you are losing.

It's time that we send the American military, not just the National Guard, to the border to defend the USA, as is the responsibility of the federal government. This suggestion is not meant to disparage the Arizona National Guard, but they are simply not built for large-scale combat operations, and this is no longer just a simple law enforcement situation. We need to secure the border with combat troops and convince the Mexican drug cartels that they are better off squabbling with each other than fighting the USA. In fact, if the border becomes so secure that nothing can get through, the cartels will have to find other routes for their drug trade, leave the border area, and improve the lives of law-abiding Mexicans on the other side of the border as well.

In addition to securing the border, it is time for Mexican President Calderón and Obama to meet to discuss the possibilities of worsening assaults on the border and our possible responses to these events before they actually happen. If protocols and understandings are there beforehand, the likelihood of any incident spinning out of control into a war is greatly reduced.

Finally, Obama needs to reprioritize his administration away from attempting to sue Arizona and toward addressing the problem that prompted Arizona to pass the law in the first place. Only after the border is secure should we talk about what to do about illegal immigrants still in the USA and expanding work permit programs for law-abiding Mexicans to make a living here.