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Military Law and Order on the Border

US National Guard

Among the long-held mantras of the conservative movement are “law and order” and “the Constitution.” Another is “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.”

Unfortunately, that’s all they are — mantras. With the possible exception of aid to the arts and food stamps, conservatives endorse every statist program in the books — programs that violate the very mantras they so proudly utter in their speeches, on their websites, and on their stationery.

There are, of course, countless examples of this phenomenon. Drug laws and immigration controls are among the most notable. And so is President Trump’s plan to send the U.S. military to the U.S.-Mexico border in one more desperate attempt to win the decades-old wars on drugs and immigrants.

This is what socialist and interventionist programs do to their proponents — they make them desperate. As each measure fails to win the “war,” proponents add new measures to the old ones, convinced that the latest one will be the one that finally “wins” the “war.”

Meanwhile, as each law-enforcement measure piles onto the last one, the overall mosaic of a police state begins taking shape. But since most people have been indoctrinated since the first grade to believe that they are living in a free society, the increasing police-state mosaic appears to them as more and more “freedom.”

Look at the drug war. Decades of failure, along with death, ruination of lives, and ever-increasing destruction of liberty, property, and privacy, as reflected by such things as draconian jail sentences, asset forfeiture (i.e., legalized state stealing), harassment of African Americans, bank privacy violations, official lying in courts, and mandatory minimum sentences.

None of it has worked. Yet, are conservatives ready to repeal drug laws? Are you kidding? They are doubling down. They want drug dealers to be killed, just like their icon Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, whose drug-war forces have, according to Human Rights Watch, killed more than 10,000 drug suspects in the last two years alone, with “victory” still a long way away.

Not surprisingly, given their strong allegiance to empire and militarism, conservatives are reacting with great glee over Trump’s plan to send the military to the border. They are convinced that finally, finally, the Pentagon (and maybe the CIA too) will bring them victory in their decades-old war on drugs.

It’s the same with their war on illegal immigrants. It’s gone on for decades, with ever-increasing police-state enforcement measures that destroy life, liberty, property, and privacy. Highway checkpoints, just like in communist countries. Warrantless searches of travelers, just like in communist countries. Warrantless searches of farms and ranches, both adjacent to the border and far away from border, just like in communist countries. Border fences and walls, just like in communist countries. Fortified borders, just like in communist countries.

None of it has worked. The so-called immigration crisis continues to bedevil America.

And now conservatives (and undoubtedly many liberals) are celebrating Trump’s plan to send the military to the border. They are convinced that finally, finally, the Pentagon (and maybe the CIA too) will bring them the victory they have long sought in their decades-old war on immigrants.

Except that they won’t. bring victory in either war. And sending the troops to the border will be just one more step toward the overall mosaic of a police state.

For one thing, getting the military involved in the drug war and war on immigrants will be illegal. That’s because U.S. law prohibits the military from being used in law enforcement.

Why is that?

Because long ago, Americans realized that it isn’t a good idea for the military to be enforcing criminal laws. That’s because the military mindset is completely different from the civilian-police mindset. The military mindset sees a suspected drug dealer and sees “the enemy.” Since it is war (i.e., the war on drugs and the war on immigrants), the military shoots first and asks questions later. Although things have moved toward militarism among many police departments in recent years, especially with more military veterans becoming cops, the police mindset is different. Cops generally do everything they can to apprehend, not kill, a suspect and bring him to trial.

Just ask the family of Enrique Hernandez Jr., an American high-school student who was shot and killed while tending sheep on his ranch after President Clinton sent U.S. troops to the border win the war on drugs, the same thing that Trump is now doing.

Look at Mexico, where the military plays an active role enforcing drug laws. The experience has been a disaster, with the military causing as much, if not more, death and destruction as the drug gangs they are fighting.

In fact, consider the fact that the Pentagon and the CIA have played an active role in the drug war throughout Mexico and the Central America for decades, which, of course, is ironic given that Americans have prohibited them from doing the same thing here. What has it accomplished?

The fact that U.S. law prohibits the military from engaging in law enforcement isn’t fazing conservatives. They couldn’t care less what the law says. What matters is finally, after decades of failure, death, and destruction of liberty and privacy, winning their wars on drugs and immigrants.

Damn those conservative mantras. Damn the law. Damn the Constitution. Just win the wars on drugs and immigrants, no matter what has to be done. Better yet, just call illegal immigrants “invaders” and circumvent the law and the Constitution that way. Shoot to kill. Or maybe even bomb them before they get here, just like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

What conservatives (and liberals) just cannot bring themselves to acknowledge is that their wars on peaceful activity will never be won. They will only serve to further destroy freedom, prosperity, and privacy. They will only move our nation in the direction of a bigger, more oppressive police state.

Isn’t it time that statists, conservatives and liberals alike, step aside and let us libertarians lead America to freedom, peace, prosperity, harmony, and morality? Legalize drugs and open the borders to free trade and the free movements of people. There is no other solution to the drug-war and anti-immigrant crises that conservatives and liberals have foisted upon our land with their socialist and interventionist programs.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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