Restoring the Sanctity of Sovereign National Borders

What can a government do if millions of unarmed people just keep walking towards your national border? Is it considered migration or invasion?

The question that Europe has been facing since 2015, after Angela Merkel’s siren call, will now be faced by the United States, as thousands from Central and South America are marching through Mexico to the U.S. border.

In an earlier era, Mexico would have been seen as complicit in an invasion of the United States and it would be considered an act of war. This is the same problem Israel faced when African migrants moved into Israel. And soon, all great powers, which are economically successful will face this tactic—unless a strong precedent is set. More importantly, identifying the sources within the country, which favors such large-scale social engineering is important. The EU and Italy have identified ideological NGOs actively helping mass migration to Europe as a form of subversion. But since it is the EU, not much has been done.

So far, the reactions have been varied. Sovereign borders were considered sacrosanct due to the Westphalian concept. Globalization and liberal borderless utopia notions destroyed and hollowed out the idea that nation states are the biggest and most formidable units of international order. Add to this the repeated interventions from the West in the name of human rights, which further destroyed the idea that a country is sovereign and master of its own destiny.

Naturally, with the Middle East exploding, and Europe constantly preaching internationalism, it had no option but to start accepting millions of people. The problem then started as those millions of people didn’t consist of refugees, or women, the infirm, and children, but of unarmed, military-age men, looking for jobs. When one accepts millions of fit military age single men from completely different cultures, they add on to social strife and disharmony, crime surges, and society breaks down.

It is happening in Europe, and what we are seeing now is a spread to other parts of the world. There are vast numbers of frustrated people who have simply decided not only that they should migrate and go seek fortune in countries which are better, but that they have every right to be welcomed, accepted, and celebrated without offering anything in return. It is a dangerous precedent.

Consider the evidence. At least a million sub-Saharan Africans moved to Europe. Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Africa stand out. Meanwhile, Afghans, Syrians, and Iraqis are flocking to Europe, too. The majority of these people have decided that there’s simply no way they could continue to live in their own countries.

And how do countries respond? Those which are guarded by oceans and seas are comparatively safe. Australia deports anyone who manages to cross the ocean. The United Kingdom voted for Brexit. But other powers are not so lucky. Europe is seeing a natural backlash and the rise of the far-right movement.

America, which is protected from overwhelming amounts of migration on the east and west by high seas, is still connected to the south by land. That is where the bulk of migration to the United States originates, and that has led to the rise of Trump and to other forms of backlash. Israel, another land power, just planned to throw out all African asylum seekers after backtracking from a United Nations deal. Russia is dealing with migration from the Caucasus as well as Central Asia. China and India are relatively safe, due to natural frontiers and boundaries, but not for long. During the crisis in Myanmar, India point blank refused to take in any migrants, and Indian right-wing political parties are particularly opposed to any further migration.

There are other forces at play as well. Social services in Europe are breaking down. Genuine law-abiding migrants are being discriminated against for their race. An example is Asian migrants in the United States, people from Korea, China, and India facing massive discrimination in universities which, in order to provide parity to the selection process, privileges some from Hispanic and African-American backgrounds. None of these are good developments for social harmony, and since none of these are meritocratic, they will not result in social progress.

It has military implications, too. How to stop rogue terrorists from moving in with the peaceful crowd? How does anyone know who is coming here with bad intentions or if the majority have good intentions? How can hundreds of thousands of men assimilate in a completely different culture within one lifetime? And if they don’t, it is for a lack of better word, a ticking time bomb? Finally, what if tomorrow observant foes purposefully use this tactic as a mode of invasion? What if rival great powers just throng the borders of each other with unarmed men posing as refugees?

These are important and urgent questions. The sanctity of borders must be restored, and if that needs multilateral great power discussions and debates, so be it. It is urgent that this problem of mass migration be addressed, or violence surely will come.

Photo credit: Jonatan Rosas/Getty Images

About Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, and a member of Centre for Conflict, Security, and Terrorism. He is also a regular analyst for Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi, and a regular essayist for various publications, including The National Interest, The Federalist, and Quillette Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.

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