RANGER AGAINST WAR: Mending Fences <

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Mending Fences

  Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun 
--Mending Wall,
Robert Frost

I'm a bigot, but for the Left
Annie Hall (1977)

 Ain't nothin' gonna break-a my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no
I got to keep on movin' 
--Break My Stride,
Matthew Wilder
A small meditation on The Fence, in two parts:

It seems just yesterday that the Free World celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall -- that the iconic symbol of the Iron Curtain -- and with it, the collapse of the evil empire. Sort of.

Today, the United States contemplates building a wall between itself and Mexico at an estimated cost of $18 billion (which means that it will actually cost $65 billion, with mandatory cost overruns, before it is functional.) Ranger will now consider the fence in simple military terms.

The Fence will be an obstacle. The first rule of employing an obstacle is that it is useless unless covered by fire. This means direct or indirect fire must be implemented in a complete defensive fire plan.

Lacking fire, an obstacle is a waste of effort, time and assets. For the breacher, it is a like a bolus of material, an irritation, to be summited.

The U.S. must be willing to treat U.S. soil as an exclusion zone, and stand ready to implement deadly force to achieve the hoped-for goal of the fence, which would be as an adjutant to enforcing immigration policy.

But a fence is just a fence, an obstacle on the course, unless it is covered by fire. This point is offered for consideration, as it is usually omitted when considering the simple architecture of the thing.

An effective fence implies more than its mere physicality.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a period of time when a much younger me worked for the BLM - that's the federal government, not that other group, which didn't even exist way back then. My AO was the vast and mostly unpopulated territory, roughly, between the Tucson metropolitan area, though stretching far West of that, South to the border with Mexico. Beautiful serene land. My partner I patrolled in our trusty green USGI Ford Bronco and performed a variety of tasks and, generally, patrolled. Great times.

Anyhow, I have personally witnessed many of the issues that are under discussion today. I have seen Mexicans crossing the border, through a big hole in the flimsy corroded fence, all night long. The hole was maybe 100 yards from the official crossing at Sasabe (which closed at night). Saw exactly the same at the crossing at Lukeville. I have found the dead bodies in the desert, I have helped set up the water stations to try to ameliorate the dead bodies. I got shot at once by (I assume) narco traffickers, who then fled back south across the border when I returned fire. I have found hundreds of pounds of cannabis stashed along silent dirt roads in the middle of nowhere out there. 20 kilo packs of cocaine and black tar heroine. Been close enough to various parties to believe the rumors that customes and border patrol had been infiltrated or otherwise corrupted by the cartels. Have seen that the Tohaono O'Odam Indians make money taxing smugglers along their reservation's 99 mile border with Mexico. I recall seeing the blimps that DEA put up and thinking that was a good idea, only to see that narcos had shot them down within the month. It's a wild and wooly land, that border area.

This was before the cartels became as notorious and violent as they are today. I can't even imagine what it's like now.

The wall must be built, but it must be more than a simple wall. All modes of modern surveillance must be deployed. Narco trafficantes must be dealt with ruthlessly. Most of the land is inhospitable and cannot be crossed without severe risk. The viable smuggling routes are known and that is where resources should be dedicated. This is not nearly as difficult as people make it out to be, IMO. Lack of will and corruption has been the impediment to date.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 10:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

A question for Avedis, since you have the experience on this -- given finite resources, is a single unbroken wall the best way to spend them or could some of the money from it be spent instead on the more route-specific focus you're talking about? I just want to understand what you're saying here.

If blimps were useful but good targets, presumably a lot could be accomplished with modern UAVs.

Jim -- $65 billion would make it more expensive than the Maginot line.

Taking the same critique you make of the war on terror, I do wonder about the military analysis here. The wall isn't being built to stop a conventional assault by the Mexican army. It's being built to deter individuals from committing crimes. Presumably any deterrent counts for something, although one could maybe find more effective ways to spend the money than building a single obstacle at considerable economic and diplomatic cost for marginal benefit.

If the wall is going to be "defended" with lethal force, then depending on where it is built and where the personnel are authorized to fire, what you are describing either is an intent to fire on and kill citizens of a sovereign power within that power's territory, which I'm guessing would be an act of war, or what amounts to summary executions of unwanted aliens at the border. Want to speculate about the political fallout both at home and abroad the first time someone gets shot from a guard stationed on the wall?

Perhaps Putin will come to Mexico City and declare, "Mr. Trump, tear down this wall."

Maybe you've anticipated all of this and that's the whole point of the post, in which case you're a few steps ahead of me as always.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 11:15:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMO, An un-interupted wall extending from Tijuana to Brownsville Texas is not needed. There are tracts of land out there that are impassable. There is no water most of the year. It is extremely hot. There are mountains that rise above the desert to 3,000 meters. Those tracts could be by-passed. The desert would do the work of the wall. That does mean, however, that there will be people who try those by-passed routes and who will die in the process.

The blimps were pretty cool. Big, grey and shiny in the reflected sun light, floating in the cloudless blue sky and tethered to the ground by long cables. They were supposed to detect smuggler aircraft. Ancient tech, though. Drones would be much better. Between a wall on the appropriate sections of border and drone patrols, I would think that the border could be well sealed. There are still other methods of smuggling people and contrabando. Border Patrol deals with these every day at the official entry points. BP could probably benefit from more and better tech to assist.

Finally, I think that the US should cooperate with Mexico to institute search and destroy missions in border towns that have been taken over by violent cartels. Cartel members would be militarily taken out sans judicial process.

None of this would be perfect, though. The huge amount of money involved combined with ideology/family ties on the part of some small proportion of those agents with Hispanic heritage, would ensure that some level of corruption continues within US federal ranks and that corruption would lead to penetrations of "the wall" (both literal and metaphoric).


Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10:18:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

First, one has to consider the limits of state power. Even in ruthless dictatorships, government laws and decrees are not always followed.

Second, one has to consider the differences between law enforcement and military action.

Finally, one has to look at the differences between supply and demand (and policies that affect both).

In situations where there is great demand (for, say, either drugs or extremely cheap labour) then supply chains will organize themselves. To a great degree, government action against supply only serves to drive up the price and make the winners of the supply gauntlet extremely rich.

Pragmatic governments would address the issue by also attacking the demand side. However, demand side is an internal problem and powerful domestic interests will push back against demand restrictions.

In the absence of effective policies against demand, government action against supply ends up being, in effect, so much Kabuki theatre.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

this has been edited to a 2 part essay.
imo if a wall is built this is ipso facto militarization.
the only place in US system where folks can be killed without exception is in an exclusion zone of nuclear physical security sites.
if a site is breached then it's a lethal force situation,which is why i used the word exclusion zone.
last nite i was watching public tv and learned that a aero bus costs 21 billion, which puts the price of a wall into clearer focus.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cost of the wall is peanuts compared to the cost of heroin/cocaine/meth amphetamine abuse, gang activity by savage illegals from Mexico and S. America, prison for the savages, welfare and other social programs consumed by illegals.

Will the wall (used metaphorically here to include the physical structure as well as all tech, personnel and other invested resources) ameliorate these expenses completely? No. I am willing to bet, however, that the expense will be more than offset by the savings that are realized.

I don't get the part about application of force. I'm pretty sure all borders are, ultimately, backed up by threat of deadly force application. I'm pretty sure that if I attempted to run across the Peace Bridge into Canada and barrel right through customs, that I be physically apprehended and, if I resisted too much, shot.


Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 11:12:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't fully buy your argument about demand as an excuse for hands-off treatment of supply. There are people who demand child porn and sex. Do we not still need to deal harshly with the suppliers of such things?

Heroin was a thing of the inner cities when I was a kid. Now it's everywhere. Highschool kids are overdosing. Moms are ODing in front of their children. It's far to facile to say that some kind of education or something is going to stop the problem at this point. People become used to something that was once verboten and stigmatized and then they start to slowly increase demand. If the supply ceases, demand will evaporate in a generation.

There is no need for illegals to get work done. Americans can do the same work (most of it is in construction trades, not fruit picking as the left likes to characterize it). Furthermore, many Mexicans come here on temp work visas and do that work when needed. That is the legal and controlled way. I laid a lot of brick, tile and poured a lot of concrete with such legal temp visa workers. They're good people and hard workers and they are not happy about the illegals either.

The illegals are seeking welfare as much, if not more so, than they are work. The presence of welfare screws up the whole market. W/o welfare, the market would regulate itself. When there is demand for work, they'd come here on temp visas. When there isn't demand, they'd stay home.


Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 11:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...

"if the supply ceases ..." might as well wish for a fairy godmother.
The government can't completely seal the border.
Some of the largest fortunes in the Canadian establishment came from running rum during prohibition.

If I was a big employer of illegal immigrants or if I was a drug cartel king pin, I would hire me the hardest right politicians I could find to rail against drugs and illegals.

It would greatly improve my bottom line.

As far as welfare goes, I suggest you look carefully at the examples from the nineteenth century and the revolutions of the twentieth that followed as night after day. The new deal happened, not because the oligarchs cared about the people, rather, they were *scared* of the people.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 2:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should we be scared of foreign nationals? We need to appease Mexico by giving their citizens, who they won't care for themselves, our money? Not just Mexico, but anyone else who wants to come here.

I see that the philosophy here is that we are just plain helpless and should resign ourselves to drug overdoses on every street corner and all the resulting orphans, our jobs to be taken by illegals and to be, generally, invaded by, potentially, 7 billion people that we can't stop from coming here. If some are terrorists, it doesn't matter. Hey people get killed by lightening and slipping on banana peals too.

Reality = defeatism.

I work for a living and make enough to be the target of heavy taxation. So I guess I'm an "oligarch" and deserve to pay out an ever increasing portion of my earnings to these unstoppable social ills. Total taxes I pay are 1/3 of what I earn. I think I should pay even more for someone courageous enough to slip across the border undetected and into a sanctuary city. Else be damned to suffer for my sin of making money and being "privileged".

Thanks for enlightening me. I can now steel myself for my bleak, but apparently well deserved, future.

Maybe I'll immigrate to Canada. Just sail a boat across the lake. I'll bring my whole town with me. No problem right?


Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 3:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Avedis -- I'm inclined to accept what you have to say about a more flexible approach to border security in terms of walls, drones, impassable areas, etc. A wall represents a lot of capital sunk into an immovable obstacle that can't really be rolled back and diverted into other programs once built.

On Jim's point re militarization, this is where the political fallout starts to get hairy. I doubt, for instance, that if you have what Jim calls a militarization of the border on the one hand, Mexico will be remotely interested in allowing the U.S. to conduct military operations inside its territory, as Avedis has called for. I wonder if a wall will be enough if the Mexican state collapses.

The Peace Arch does seem like the worst analogy in this context mind you. If now-vague memory serves, one could walk through the park there and skip customs altogether, and while it's theoretically possible you could get shot now, I think the Canadians only started arming their border guards five or six years ago.

Maybe this is just me misunderstanding Jim's point, though. If the exclusion zone he's describing relates strictly to physically crossing over or under the wall, that's not where I thought he was going it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 5:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ael said...


I try not to put words in your mouth.
Please try not to do the same to me.

And no, you are clearly not an oligarch.
They don't pay anything near 1/3 in taxes.
I suspect, however, you are useful to oligarchs.

Feel free to come to Canada.
You and your whole town can apply.
We take all sorts of people willing to work hard and get along with others.

Of course, it is a bit chilly (a comfortable -10) right now.
A couple days ago, it was kind of brisk (-45 with wind chill).

That does tend to reduce the application lines.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 7:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, but why do I have to apply? Why can't I just cross over and start enjoying benefits, like illegals do in the US?


Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 7:28:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a FB friend who is a friend of an actual friend who is currently a border patrol agent covering the same ground I know. He is also former military and a veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan. He tells me that under Obama the laws haven't been enforced. It's been mostly catch and release. You catch someone crossing the border, they get processed and then released pending further legal proceedings. Of course, they tend to disappear at that point.

I await Jim's follow on post and/or clarifying comments b/c I am not understanding the concept of militarization. That could be my thick skull interfering with things.

As far as I see it, you have federal agents, border patrol, ICE, maybe even in some circumstances BLM or Forest Service out in the terrain, they see coyotes, mules whatever, crossing - or they infiltrate businesses that are hiring, gangs, sanctuary cities - and they make the calls and the people are picked up AND NOT RELEASED.

Build the wall to stop the low level infiltrators (like the guys I described seeing), deploy the resources/assets that are part of the virtual wall and *enforce the law*.Stop giving welfare and other benefits to non-citizens.Simple. I'm just not seeing the need for machine guns and land mines, armed drones and all that mil gear. Unless they start shooting back. Which some will. Then it becomes a law enforcement matter that is handled by all the aforementioned federal agents. Still not a mil mission.


Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 7:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i do try to keep things Ranger simple.
all i'm saying is the wall is useless unless it is covered by fire. be this military /contractor or law enforcement.observation without fire is useless.
i think this whole mex border thing is a shell game.
to avedis i say that the drug thing is definitely a problem, but the drug lords are only responding to the US market.heck,i'm not even sure that the real drug lords don't reside here in the states.

Friday, February 10, 2017 at 11:34:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got it. Right. The wall itself is nothing.


Friday, February 10, 2017 at 12:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

I understand. I await part two.

As with any international trade, I imagine there are a few people on both sides of the border growing quite wealthy.

Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 4:51:00 AM GMT-5  

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