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January 17, 2005

Importing revolution

In a continuation of bb's earlier post,"The Problem with Libertarian Open Borders Arguments," I have to point out Will Wilkinson's absolutely disastrous idea in his latest column for Reason Online. The idea?

How can the United States best help the millions of people who were rocked by the Indian Ocean tsunami? America's generosity has been impressive. The federal government has pledged $350 million; private, voluntary donations from Americans will soon surpass that amount. American helicopters and aid workers have been critical for rendering aid in the aftermath of the disaster. All this will help.

But there is something more we can do that will have long-term positive benefits for the citizens of tsunami-battered nations—something that will buy us goodwill but cost us almost nothing.

Let them work in the U.S.

This idea is so incredibly ignorant, in the light of current affairs, that it is almost beyond belief that a person with the intellect of Will would still argue it. What Will completely ignores is the fact that the tsunami did the worst damage to the province of Aceh.

Concerns remained that an unknown number of tsunami survivors in Indonesia's Aceh province have not received any aid, two weeks after the disaster that killed more than 104,000 people there.

For those who don't know, Aceh is an ultra-fundamentalist breakaway province that forms the most Western part of Indonesia. The province has been in a near constant state of war against the military of the more moderate Indonesian government for more than 25 years. In fact, the people of Aceh practice a form of Islam much more similar to that practiced in the Middle East than what is practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia.

For over ten centuries the Acehnese have had the region’s strongest ties with the Arab world. The Acehnese are far more influenced by Arab thought than any of the Malay peoples that surround them. The radical Wahhabi view of Islam held by many of the Bedouins of Saudi Arabia is the Islam of Aceh.

To truly understand the scope of the conflict there, perhaps a brief description of Indonesian military operations in the province in just this past October will help put it in perspective.

In an awesome display, paratroopers have dropped into the province en masse to show the Acehnese that the government means business. Indonesia's generals have promised to flood the province with at least 50,000 troops to fight a foe that, by generous estimates, has fewer than 5,000 men under arms. Lending her support, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has urged the army to "crush" the rebels. And even the White House has tacitly signed on: As the Aceh campaign has escalated, the Bush administration has sought to increase military aid to Jakarta.

The article that this was quoted from was somewhat sympathetic to the Aceh people, calling it "Indonesia's Chechnya" and describing many of the atrocities taking place at the hands of the Indonesian military while downplaying just how effective the insurgents are militarily by describing their small numbers (as I'm sure everyone on this blog is aware of, insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, and other practitioners of asymmetric warfare are extraordinarily effective at making use of various force multipliers). It seems the Indonesian military has the exact same problems that everybody else has when it comes to dealing with insurgents, and are probably making the problem worse. Recent reports indicate that Indonesia wants to bring about a truce, however other reports indicate that Indonesia has exploited the shock the tsunami has had on the province by starting another campaign of military operations while simultaneously calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Back to the point at hand, being that the province is controlled by an ultra-fundamentalist, Middle Eastern sect of Islam means that bringing in hundreds of thousands of tsunami victims would be equivalent to bringing in hundreds of thousands of people from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, etc. What the open border libertarians don't understand is that there is much more to a country than its economic power and that there are aspects of national security that must be considered when discussing immigration. It's almost as if many libertarians don't read the international news sections of newspapers, because if they did they would not be making such foolish arguments as the one that Will is making.

An even scarier thought is that maybe they simply don't care.

Posted by Arcane at 04:26 PM