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Why Doesn’t the Department of Defense Defend Us?

Thomas Friedman recently said something interesting: “The euphoric rampage of Oct. 7 that killed some 1,400 soldiers and civilians has not only hardened Israeli hearts toward the suffering of Gaza civilians. It has also inflicted a deep sense of humiliation and guilt on the Israeli Army and defense establishment, for having failed in their most basic mission of protecting the country’s borders.”

The humiliation and guilt do not seem universal. Our military and defense leadership do not seem to feel any responsibility for the border crisis. They certainly feel no shame for this egregious and ongoing insult to American sovereignty. For them, the military is reserved for events around the globe, even though most of these far-flung campaigns have only a tangential relationship to actual American security.

Our border is completely wrecked, and more than 2 million migrants are likely to arrive this year.  Most of these people are poor, low-skilled people from the Third World. They are not likely to contribute much to our country, many will arrive and stay illegally or under fraudulent refugee claims, and they will receive substantial benefits unavailable to millions of struggling Americans. Collectively, this weakens our country.

While our rickety southern border contributes greatly to this state of affairs, the Department of Defense seems to have no interest in actually doing anything to help. They have repeatedly resisted deploying significant assets to augment the U.S. Border Patrol.

Trump received withering criticism from senior members of the U.S. military for his supposed disrespect for the military’s customs and for the suggestion that he might employ them during the nationwide riots in 2020. As part of their aversion to domestic deployment, the military has remained largely indifferent to protecting the border, as if national defense can only be conducted in the nether reaches of the world, many thousands of miles from our country’s borders and our people.

Power Projection vs. National Defense

We do not have a military geared towards territorial defense. We instead have a military devoted to power-projection. It can damage countries and their militaries halfway around the world, and many of its personnel and much of our equipment remains permanently overseas.

Force structure and training have oscillated between preparation for low intensity wars and peer competitors, but the military has devoted very little attention to protecting the country itself from direct threats, whether in the form of an invasion of migrants or from something like a Chinese spy satellite flying over the continental U.S.

This all flows from the dual nature of American Empire. A very smart and anonymous writer, CatGirl Kulak, described how the ruling class’s chief concern is the overseas empire, which leads them to neglect the interior of the nation, along with its people: “Functionally America is an hourglass-shaped empire. It’s really two empires barely connected. It is a 19th century land empire conquered by American settler populace, and it is a 20th century Maritime and global empire conquered by the US Navy and barely closeted communist bureaucrats along with the foreigners they funded. These two empires barely interact . . .  The place they meet, the narrow center of this hourglass is Washington DC. . . .  Whilst Washington remains completely safe from any threat to its 20th-century Maritime empire…  Washington’s 19th-century land empire has it by the throat.”

Washington foreign policy types like to play games of Risk overseas, because they know we have two oceans and a nuclear arsenal to protect us from conventional threats. This sort of power politics is mostly harmless to the ruling class; and, when a war ensues, the people doing the fighting and dying are, in their eyes, a bunch of disposable right-wing hicks from flyover country.

On the other hand, the same ruling class has completely lost its mind about January 6, because this was a rare and extreme nonviolent revolt by the denizens of the Inland Empire, which the Washington D.C. ruling class holds in great contempt, but also greatly fears.

An Invasion By Any Other Name . . .

If we had a wise and patriotic ruling class, this would all look very different. They would protect the interior, because they would understand that the chief consequence of any invasion is not the destruction of military equipment, so much as the threat to national sovereignty and the related threat to the survival and flourishing of a people. As the old joke went, if it wasn’t for the army, we would be speaking German.

But why invade a country conventionally, when the invaders can achieve their goal of lebensraum without the challenge of amassing military forces and planning a military invasion?  The scale and long-term consequences of the border crisis far outweighs the official concerns of our defense establishment, like Russo-Ukrainian relations or the Straits of Malacca. But our national leaders do not treat the border crisis as a matter of national survival.

For real countries, particularly in ethnostates like Israel, it is obvious that borders matter, and it is obvious that the military’s job is to protect them, whether from invaders with uniforms or not. Either type of invader presents a threat to life and limb, and both present a threat to a nation and its access to resources.

Unfortunately we have a cosmopolitan leadership class, which lately is not terribly bright, and they are either indifferent to or hostile to the land, the people, and their resources.

The Excuse of Legality

At least part of the military’s aversion to taking responsibility for the migrant invasion comes from the leadership’s understandable desire not to employ the blunt instrument of the U.S. military in the delicate matter of domestic law enforcement. But there are several problems with this excuse.

First, this is not a constitutional requirement; posse comitatus is a mere statute, and whether it is police or military, there are still courts and other constitutional protections afforded to American citizens. Using the military on the border is as American as the Constitution, which provides: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

Second, the military’s aversion to domestic law enforcement activity is also fairly selective. General Milley clutched his pearls over Trump threatening to invoke the Insurrection Act during an actual insurrection June of 2020, but, even today, the military brags about its role enforcing desegregation orders by bayonet in the 1950s. Similarly, the military, which only months before did not want to put down violent riots, willingly established a “Green Zone” in Washington D.C. protected by thousands of troops around the time of Biden’s inauguration.

The real driver of military aversion to protecting the border is a combination of budgetary concerns and the perception that doing empire things overseas is more valorous and higher status than rounding up illiterate, unarmed Central Americas along the Rio Grande. The military leadership tends to kiss up to the ruling class, who are more interested in the overseas, maritime empire. On this matter, the civilian and uniform leadership’s worldviews have converged, and this also explains why the military has become more politically correct in recent years.

A True Department of Defense

The divorce of the military from border defense—an artifact of World War II and the subsequent Cold War—should be considered more critically. No one saw a conflict between (the Reconstruction-era) Posse Comitatus statute and the deployment of the army in forts along the border with Mexico to deter and punish incursions. The Army’s decades-long contribution to border security culminated in Blackjack Pershings’ 1916 punitive expedition against Pancho Villa. Thereafter, the military focused almost exclusively on overseas threats from nation-states, particularly in Europe, mostly ceding its role at the border to a law enforcement agency in 1924 with the creation of the Border Patrol.

The Border Patrol and its budget is tiny compared to the military. This says a lot about the ruling class’s priorities. The government is moving mountains and spending hundreds of billions to impose its will abroad, while tolerating anarchy on its border and slow, but continuous, degradation of the quality of life at home.

Our military and political leaders must adapt to the times. The reluctance to use the military on the border comes from the obsolete paradigm of a world where nation-states have a “monopoly on force.” In the pre-Westphalian past, as well as the present, many historically transformative invasions were not undertaken by uniformed militaries and may not have even been particularly violent.

The first English colonists in North America came as religious farmers seeking peace. At first, they had peaceful relations with native tribes, which we celebrate on Thanksgiving. Similarly, the Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire were as much an immigration phenomenon as they were a military invasion. Whether violent or not, the result in each of these cases was the same: displacement of the existing people along with their way of life.

Today, in many parts of the country, you need to know Spanish just to get by. Other unassimilated ethnic pockets exist throughout the country. These shifts in linguistic unity signal a broader disunity, the fruits of massive, unrestrained, and unassimilable levels of immigration.

The history of defeated nations should provide a ready source of wisdom: these nations and their armies lose when they are preparing to fight the last war.  Militaries and nations also lose when the leadership and the military are no longer aligned with the people and their interests.

Today, a new type of invasion is manifest. And it calls for a new type of leadership, which puts America first. These circumstances also demand a new type of military, one at home on the border.

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

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About Christopher Roach

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

Photo: ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - SEPTEMBER 21: (L-R) U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the National Pentagon 9/11 Memorial on September 21, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. Zelensky is visiting Washington and will have an Oval Office meeting at the White House with President Joe Biden in the afternoon. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for Alecto Alecto says:

    This is a timely piece as it was when some 80,000,000 Americans posed the same question over the past few decades to their representatives. During the Bush era’s various amnesty initiatives, I remember calling and emailing every senator’s office as well as dozens and dozens of House members to express displeasure with their proposals and the impact it would have on opportunities for existing citizens. Few of them listened, but I am heartened to read that those people fear us. In the future I hope to give them many more reasons to fear us and to see those fears be realized through effective citizen action.

    The root of the problem lies in the unholy, demonic marriage of Washington, D.C. with corporate America. Who makes policies in this country? It certainly isn’t the people. I no longer believe it is elected representatives or senators, who are mere figureheads for their offices run by ambitious little prick staffers. I wonder sometimes if they can read, or comprehend what they do read in those 2,800 page bills. No, the authors of policy are far more likely to sit in a C-Suite; a thug if you will.

    I have often wondered how it was that the Supreme Court found constitutional rights for corporations. Ours is a constitution of individual rights, not collective rights, not rights-by-voluntary-association. Conferring such “rights” as personhood on corporations coupled with their ability to utilize economic power over individuals and their constitutionally-protected rights makes thwarting their desires and objectives impossible in any republic. What’s the point of government when it exists only to do the bidding of rich corporate donors or those with enough money to ensure the Congressional Rubber-Stamper gets re-elected? What is the point of citizenship when tax-exemption confers instant status to formulate policies and impose them on the taxpayer? Is that not how we got indoctrinated with the “Nation of Immigrants” propaganda?

    The only remedy is the one we’re all afraid to mention for fear of appearing on the AGAAVE list. There is no United States of America. I realize at this stage of life what a load of crap all of it is. This isn’t a country, or a republic with citizens. For the duration of my life, that illusion has irreparably damaged several generations while corporate America fleeced taxpayers, schemed and pillaged everywhere, bribed and extorted. That is the true mission of the military - making the world safe for behemoth corporate profits, not democracy or liberty or human rights.

  2. Spot on!

    I hate to break the news but this is all deeply ground into the US military psyche. Between signing up for Army ROTC in 1986 and getting my discharge papers in 1996 and saw the following:

    1. Border Defense: Whenever calls would come up to put the military on the southern border, there would be grousing and complaints that “that’s not our job!”. And for some perspective this attitude existed during the Reagan Era.

    2. Domestic Disturbances: The institutional mindset was that’s the National Guard’s responsibility. I knew a number of guys who went into LA to quell the Rodney King Riots and they all viewed it as a big joke.

    3. Natural Disaster: Here the military has some patience for stepping in on matters like hurricane relief. But even then the mindset is to get in, sort everything out then get out to get ready for more important things (like taking down Middle Eastern countries).

    So this is a deep seated, institutional problem. And I think it’s much worse now because Department of Defense now realizes illegal aliens and rioters are Democrat constituents and the Democrats will hammer them mercilessly if they harm their underlings.

  3. Mr. Roach understands what is needed, but one wonders how we will get there.

    The corruption in DC shows no signs of abating. The FBI and DOJ appear to grow stronger, more corrupt and ruthless every day. And we are hurtling toward a cataclysmic economic meltdown that will dwarf anything in our nation’s history–including the Great Depression.

    As the oft used quote goes, something that can’t go on any longer, won’t. I think we’re just about there.

  4. Avatar for task task says:

    The author speaks about Kulak, as a smart girl. Yes, that is true, but only because of the abundance of stupid men, and some very stupid women (The Squad) as well, who run America. Consider that in the ‘Land of the Blind’ a one eyed person can easily become a King or Queen. There are no Democrats who care about the US Constitution other than the General Welfare reference in the preamble. They always miss the part which references Insuring Domestic Tranquility. And, because they care not about their Constitutional obligations, even immigrants, attempting to escape from living in countries where episodes, resembling what happened in Israel, on October 7 are not uncommon, have decided that they are better off living in the countries they arrived from than they are in Chicago and, therefore, are returning home.

    What Israel did in Gaza was to cut it off and divide it. How obvious and simple that solution is, and it cost almost nothing, and yet it remains elusive in America for one reason. It is deliberate to insure continual chronic corruption. In fact it is designed to advance corruption. When corruption becomes common place, compared to the lawful activity, then separating the wheat from the chaff will become almost impossible.

    The southern border is the most impeachable offense in the history of impeachable offenses and yet Republicans do nothing to prevent the destruction of the Home Land.

    There is only one common solution to America’s many problems. Close the border and remove all illegal immigrants that arrived during President Biden’s tenure. And it needs to start by impeaching Joe Biden, Alejandro Mayorkas and Eric Garland and then electing, or even installing, a Republican President and Administration willing to do what Ike Eisenhower did in 1954.

  5. The only remedy is the one we’re all afraid to mention for fear of appearing on the AGAAVE list.

    Pssst…we’re probably already on the list. But you are right, and those compiling the list are terrified because they know it too.

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