It's not that I expect an orderly, predictable world. I have read enough of history to understand that the dynamics of the human personality in a world of constant change will yield radical, often chaotic upheavals.
But still and all, a chap doesn't expect to find a full-grown rhinoceros in his desk drawer, or a man-eating sparrow on his window ledge.
So you can imagine my astonishment when I picked up Tuesday's Washington Times and read on the front page the headline: "Mexican military incursions reported: U.S. Border Patrol alerts Arizona agents."
Even in a world gone mad we should not expect to see a headline that Mexico is invading (or even incursioning into) the United States -- unless it is in the entertainment section regarding a re-make of "The Mouse That Roared." But the article was on the front page, and written by Mr. Jerry Seper.
As the editorial page editor of the Washington Times, I am very familiar with Jerry Seper. Mr. Seper is no novice to Mexican American border issues. He is undoubtedly the nation's leading reporter on the subject. As a longtime reader of Mr. Seper's extraordinary border reporting, experience has taught me to reliably assume that when U.S. government officials deny or contradict Mr. Seper's reporting -- believe Mr. Seper.
Mr. Seper reports that: "The U.S. Border Patrol has warned agents in Arizona of incursions into the U.S. by [heavily armed] Mexican [military units] 'trained to escape, evade and counterambush' if detected . . . " The Border Patrol also cautioned its agents to keep "a low profile," to use "cover and concealment" in approaching the Mexican military units, and "to employ 'shadows and camouflage' to conceal themselves and 'stay as quiet as possible.'"
As a red-blooded naturalized U.S. citizen (OK, perhaps slightly bluish-red), I felt my questionably hued blood boiling at the report that our border patrol has been instructed to hide and stay as quiet as possible in the face of a foreign military incursion. It's not that I expected five U.S. Border Patrol agents to take on a heavily armed Mexican military unit a la John Wayne. (Well, actually, the thought crossed my mind.)
But I certainly expected the next line of the report to be that the Pentagon had been alerted and 10,000 Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton had been dispatched to drive the Mexican units back across the Rio Grande -- and then some. If Jimmy Polk was still president, the Marines would already be well on their way to Veracruz.
Instead of calling in the Marines (or any other American military fighting organization), U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Salvador Zamora confirmed the story but said the agents were given guidance on "how to react to any sightings of military and foreign police in this country and how to properly document any incursion." He then went on to excuse the incursions as taking place in areas of the border "not marked by monuments or signs."
The spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington did Mr. Zamora one better. Mr. Rafael Laveaga denied the incursions and asserted that Mexican military units have strict rules to stay at least a mile from the border. He then condescendingly suggested that some Mexican drug smugglers "wear uniforms and drive military-type vehicles" and might have been "confused" by U.S. authorities as Mexican military units.
I would suggest that Mr. Laveaga might have been confused by the fact that the men were drug smugglers into thinking they were not official Mexican military units.
Indeed, Mr. Seper went on to report the views of Mr. T.J. Bonner, 27-year veteran Border Patrol agent, and head of the 10,000-person National Border Patrol Council, that: "Intrusions by the Mexican military to protect drug loads happen all the time and represent a significant threat to the agents." He went on to say the incursions were not accidents as the Mexican military has global positioning systems.
Since 1996, 216 incursions have been documented according to the Department of Homeland Security. But yesterday, a Pentagon spokesman said she had no information on the reported incursion.
"What goes on at the border, stays at the border" would seem to be our government's guiding principle. The facts would suggest that it is the policy of the Bush administration to ignore these military raiding parties so long as they are not driving on toward Sacramento, Chicago or Washington, D.C. (They ignore the fact that an infection may intrude through a crack in the skin, and then proceed inward to the vital organs.)
The powers that be remain close-minded to the ever-growing dangers and national insults that flow from open borders.
It is said that pride goeth before the fall. But it is equally true that a nation that has so little pride in its own territorial integrity is also due for a sharp trip downward.