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Steven Kurlander: The need for intervention in Central America: Bringing back Teddy’s Big Stick for the children

The debate about our failed immigration policies is back in full force in the American consciousness with the recent news of tens of thousands of “children” trekking to our southern border dominating the headlines.

It’s been described as a “humanitarian” disaster, further evidence of a failed immigration policy that for years has not been properly addressed by Congress.

But the movement of these children is being analyzed solely in terms of the debate over how we secure our borders.  Questions are raised about how we should absorb these children, both in legal and social terms, into our American communities.

Yet, while framed in terms of a failed immigration policy, there’s no analysis or discussion about how our politically correct abhorrence toward intervening in other nations’ conduct of their internal affairs (that has roots in our self-inflicted defeat in Vietnam) has resulted in the Border Children’s rush for the border.

In other words, no one is discussing the option of the United States once again sending in the Marines, or even military advisers, into the chaotic countries that are producing this rush for the border, and thereby reviving a 21st century version of Teddy Roosevelt’s  “Speak Softly and Carry A Big Stick” policy in Latin America.

Our legacy of intervening in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as the pursuit by the Obama administration of an Internationalist foreign policy that is centered around reducing the use of military policy in international affairs, has resulted in the United States retreating from its traditional “imperialist” policy of periodically intervening in a military capacity in various Latin American and Caribbean countries to protect our national security interests.

As the Border Children situation shows, this recent paradigm change in the conduct of our foreign policy fostered by the internationalist (and apologizing) policies of the Obama administration has resulted in not only exasperating a major failure in our immigration situation, but now presents a true threat to our national security that is conveniently being masked in “childish” humanitarian terms.

Latin America is not the rest of the world when it comes to the national security of the United States. The important standard of American foreign policy that historically draws its roots from the Monroe Doctrine and was bolstered by presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan should still be the centerpiece of our Latin American policy.

And that means we should be sending the troops to Central America to clean up these gangs and restore governmental order to the region.

According to The New York Times, more than 75 percent of the thousands of minors that are making dangerous treks to the border are from “mostly poor and violent” areas in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  These nations have devolved into anarchy as a result of the growing power of drug gangs that have been bolstered by an infusion of recently deported members from the United States under the Obama administration’s policies of deporting criminals without proper immigration credentials back to their countries.

But instead of talking about intervention, the Obama administration and congressional Republicans continue unabatedly to point fingers at each other, saying that the other has failed to address the major problems resulting from a failed immigration program. Immigration authorities have been overwhelmed with caring for these children. The latest fighting now centers on the appropriation of $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with this latest problem.

Even if we are war weary from Iraq and Afghanistan, we can’t lose sight of the anarchy that characterizes many nations in Central America and the danger it presents to our borders and national security.

It’s just not about fixing our immigration policy, but readjusting a failed foreign policy that frowns on military intervention that is needed and truly justified to keep more children from rushing our borders and their parents living in safer countries.

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary ( and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, N.Y. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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