The deadly en­emy within

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRUDEN

Pogo, the pos­sum-philoso­pher from the Oke­feno­kee Swamp of the comics page, got it right: “We have met the en­emy, and he is us.” Ev­ery­thing is spin­ning out of con­trol, and this is where the pas­sion­ate pur­suit of plea­sure has brought us. Ev­ery­body is ea­ger to go some­where else, any­where else, but there’s the dawn­ing re­al­iza­tion that “you can’t get there from here.”

The rush to judg­ment about who to blame for the cri­sis and chaos on the border only con­fuses the un­wary. Some peo­ple want to blame it all on Barack Obama, and he de­serves much blame. He’s the leader of the gang that can’t shoot straight.

Both Democrats and Repub­li­cans are con­temp­tu­ous of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bungling of the re­sponse to dis­as­ter on the Rio Grande. Never have so many owed so lit­tle to such a shal­low river. Every­one agrees that, who­ever is at fault for the in­va­sion, we haven’t seen such a pa­rade of help­less and in­no­cent chil­dren since the Pied Piper led the kids out of Ham­lin in an ear­lier mil­len­nium.

Some of the Democrats in the U.S. Se­nate, with their eyes on the prize of an end­less stream of prospec­tive vot­ers, which would en­sure their con­trol of Congress for as long as the wind blows and the rivers run down to the sea, are an­gry that Pres­i­dent Obama, re­luc­tant as he may be, is will­ing to talk to Repub­li­cans about re­vis­ing the 2008 law that now makes it dif­fi­cult to de­port chil­dren who come to the United States il­le­gally.

These Democrats want to elim­i­nate “root causes,” a vague cliche that nearly al­ways means “let’s build a big­ger bu­reau­cracy to throw money at some­body.” The War on Poverty was such a big suc­cess, so why not try it there? Hon­duras even sug­gests a “mini-Mar­shall plan” for Cen­tral Amer­ica.

But one of the im­por­tant causes is the very de­struc­tion of ev­ery­thing that makes a na­tion a na­tion in the so-called “North­ern Tri­an­gle” of Cen­tral Amer­ica — the mis­er­able na­tions of Gu­atemala, El Sal­vador and Hon­duras. Hon­duras, by the mea­sure of the U.N., is the most vi­o­lent place on earth. Hon­duras counts 90 mur­ders per 100,000 res­i­dents ev­ery year; Gu­atemala counts 40. By com­par­i­son, Afghanistan, where war still rages, and the Demo­cratic Repub­lic (so called) of the Congo, count only 28 per 100,000. Life in the North­ern Tri­an­gle is al­most as lethal as life on the south side of Chicago.

John F. Kelly, the Ma­rine four-star gen­eral who com­mands the U.S. South­ern Com­mand from Mi­ami, says it’s “the ma­lig­nant ef­fects of im­mense drug traf­fick­ing through these na­tions that is re­spon­si­ble for ac­cel­er­at­ing the break­down in their na­tional in­sti­tu­tions of hu­man rights, law en­force­ment, courts and even­tu­ally their en­tire so­ci­ety ev­i­denced to­day by the flow of chil­dren north and out ... . The hu­man rights groups I deal with tell me young women and even the lit­tle girls sent north by hope­ful par­ents are mo­lested and raped by traf­fick­ers. Many ... join the 17,500 [girls] the U.N. re­ports come into the United States ev­ery year to work in the sex trade.”

This fact leads straight to the guilti­est vil­lain of the piece, the Amer­i­can con­sumer of il­le­gal drugs, with­out whom there would be no $250 bil­lion drug traf­fic, the gen­eral writes in Mil­i­tary Times, repris­ing what he had ear­lier told Congress. “This traf­fic is what threat­ens the col­lapse of cer­tain so­ci­eties in this hemi­sphere.” That much money, spent for heroin, co­caine and meth, is ir­re­sistible to evil­do­ers. “Many,” says Gen. Kelly, “ar­gue that these threats ... do not chal­lenge our na­tional se­cu­rity. I dis­agree.”

This takes us straight to Pogo’s point, that the en­emy within, with his in­sa­tiable ap­petite for plea­sure and grat­i­fi­ca­tion through drugs and in­dif­fer­ence to the real world, is in­deed “us.” With­out the mar­ket for heroin and co­caine on the streets and in the sa­lons and other places where Beau­ti­ful Peo­ple live their priv­i­leged lives, there would be no clamor of chil­dren at the border, beg­ging to be let in.

The next time you see an en­dear­ing child with a dirty face, just off the thou­sand-mile trail from Tegucigalpa, try­ing to smile from the front page of the morn­ing news­pa­per or from the tele­vi­sion screens of the evening news, think about what put him there.

One young woman ar­rived back in Tegucigalpa over the week­end with her two chil­dren on one of the first de­por­tee flights from New Mex­ico. “Part of my heart stayed in the United States be­cause I missed a chance to get ahead,” she said. She brought back only sou­venirs, $24 for travel ex­penses, and her lit­tle girl got a small back­pack and a pack­age of crayons, which she clutched close to her heart. Wes­ley Pruden is edi­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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