A sort-of-liberal, sort-of-conservative argument for a secure southern border, served up by investor and philanthropist Buffett (40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, 2013, etc.).
It is telling that this examination of border policy and the drug trade comes with two forewords, one by Cindy McCain, a conservative Arizonan, and the other by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a comparatively liberal North Dakotan. By Buffett’s—son of Warren—account, the drug epidemic served by cartels from south of the border is a nonpartisan issue. In any event, his argument is not doctrinaire, and it refreshingly lacks the knee-jerk xenophobia that the current administration has been serving up with its talk of a border wall. In a mostly levelheaded narrative, the author calls for a carefully, professionally, and nationally policed border. As he writes, “patrolling our borders effectively today…demands a combination of law enforcement, intelligence gathering, and foreign adversary engagement skills and tactics beyond basic law enforcement.” Interestingly, Buffett also recognizes the economic and political forces that are driving the drug trade in Mexico, for which he suggests a multipronged aid approach that includes American help in breaking up the Central American gangs that seem to be the chief source of supply for young, violence-prone foot soldiers. In all this, he urges probity and diplomacy. “Insulting, bullying, or belittling Mexico will never help us improve border security,” he writes, pointedly. “To help Mexico change for the better, we need to change as well.” The author doesn’t quite hit hard enough on a couple of matters—namely, that there wouldn’t be a cartel-driven drug market without domestic demand and that big pharma is a cartel all its own, with imported heroin serving as a substitute for most addicts when prescribed opioids aren’t available. Still, his case holds up pretty well, with only occasional bursts of undue alarmism.
A useful, reasonable work of civilian policy analysis sure to invite discussion and even controversy.