In Praise of Borders

In Praise of Borders, by Peter Hitchens.

Borders are a substitute used by less fortunate lands for the sea and the mountains behind which happier countries shelter. No great civilization has grown and endured except behind the shield of ocean, mountain, or desert.

How different Poland’s history would be if it had a few dozen miles of deep salt water between it and its neighbors. How much trouble might be saved if Israel were an island. Countries with cliffs and churning, white-flecked seas for borders tend not to be partitioned or carted off into captivity, especially if they have the sense to build navies.

It is considered impolite to mention it these days, but Britain’s defiance of Hitler in 1940 owed more to the Channel and the North Sea than it did to the RAF. Salt water was our ultimate weapon, and our sensible respect for it made us hesitate, to Stalin’s fury, to launch any invasion against Hitler’s coastline. D-Day was a very near thing, even with the vast resources, the careful preparation, the brilliant deception. If the weather forecasters had gotten it wrong, the invasion fleet would have been scattered and the Red Army would have liberated Paris sometime in 1946, before driving on to the English Channel to ponder the future. At least it would have stopped there. …

Open borders are now promoted by the left, which incidentally results in many more leftist voters in the West:

Why, then, do so many speak darkly of borders as unnecessary and undesirable? Enthusiasts for “free movement of peoples,” the type who can be found in revolutionary Marxist sects and in the offices of liberal capitalist organs such as The Economist, claim to believe that the absolute equality of all humans is violated by the idea of frontiers.

The Bolsheviks believed that humanity is infinitely malleable and that class and education determine changeable human nature. The economic liberals simply think that open borders bring greater general prosperity by keeping labor costs down. In most cases, such people live remotely from the areas most directly affected by the large-scale migration they say they support. …

How can the U.S. reasonably ask people such as me, from law-governed, civilized nations, who have no plans to stay, to submit to fingerprint checks and intrusive questioning at airports, if it simultaneously allows countless persons from who-knows-where to walk straight into the country, vanish for years—and then apply for and be granted citizenship on the grounds that it is too much trouble to do anything else? If you want to have a country, you have to decide who can come into it. If you don’t, won’t, or can’t, it’s not a proper country. President Trump, build up that wall!

hat-tip Stephen Neil