Defending the Borders—Including the Western Border—of the United States

CommentaryFor almost four centuries, Western political thought has identified the security of its peoples as the foremost responsibility of government. This tenet is a foundation of America’s founding and the country’s institutions and political principles, norms, and traditions. Security begins at the border, and if that is eroded, the government has failed its citizenry. The US Government’s Responsibility Is to Defend Its Borders A central argument of Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 work, “Leviathan,” was that the state must protect its citizens. Indeed, that was the point of entering into a commonwealth where individuals provided their loyalty in return for the respect of their rights and their security. The Biden administration’s elimination of the United States’ southern border fails this obligation of the state with profound and predictable consequences for its citizens and politics. The United States, like every sovereign state, has borders that must be protected from individuals violating its laws. The lack of protection provides a short and direct avenue for millions of people to enter illegally, the sum of which certainly includes criminals and terrorists, as well as narcotics and other illegal and counterfeit goods. The government must prevent this, not permit it, and certainly not encourage it. The Threat Against America’s Western Borders While the southern border is the center of gravity in America’s border woes, it is important to recognize that the concerns about the border must include the Western border of the United States—Guam, other U.S. territories, Hawaii, and Alaska. At a time when attention is focused on Taiwan due to the danger of a Chinese attack, few on the U.S. mainland may appreciate the danger to Guam, about 1,700 miles east of Taiwan. While Guam is not threatened by border crossings, it is directly threatened by China’s military power projection capabilities as Beijing expands its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. This expansion intends to deny the United States and its allies the ability to defend its interests, including the defense of its states, territories, and allies. Guam is valuable for the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy. First, Guam is a key component of its logistical infrastructure, which, in turn, permits Washington’s power projection in the region. Ammunition and fuel storage are essential. Second, it is also home to major military installations, including the Guam naval base for Pacific fleet submarines and Andersen Air Force base, from which bombers and fighters may project power into the Western Pacific. Third, the island provides all-domain communications nodes for operations in the Indo-Pacific. Fourth, it also hosts training facilities and offers staging for joint force operations. Alaska and Guam are the western borders of the United States. While both are threatened directly by America’s enemy—communist China—Guam’s proximity to the threat makes it particularly vulnerable. China’s metastatic expansion of its missile force has alarmed such senior defense officials as Adm. Charles Richard, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command. Beijing has added greatly to its medium- and intermediate-range missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, land- and air-launched land-attack cruise missiles, and regional hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). China’s development of air-launched ballistic missiles (ALBMs) further increases the threat and the vectors from which China may attack the U.S. military installations and infrastructure. Guam urgently needs an integrated air and missile defense to meet the advanced ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missile threats it faces. Military vehicles carrying hypersonic DF-17 missiles travel past Tiananmen Square during a military parade in Beijing, China, on Oct. 1, 2019. (Jason Lee/Reuters) The Threat to Guam’s (and Thus America’s) Flanks But the threat is not only from missiles. China is also outflanking the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing’s ability to threaten Guam is worsened by the growth of China’s sphere of influence to the east and south of Taiwan and the Philippines. This expansion includes China’s increasing influence in the Solomon Islands. Of particular concern is the April 2022 security cooperation agreement between Honiara and Beijing that will allow Chinese port visits, logistical replenishment, and—tellingly—for China to dispatch police or the military to protect its people or major projects. This agreement places Chinese military power about 1,200 miles from Australia’s northern coast. China’s close relationship with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare alarms Canberra and Washington and compels the conclusion that these governments have thus far allowed Chinese influence to go unchecked. Also notable is China’s refurbishing and expanding of a runway on Canton Island in the archipelago country of Kiribati. This is just 1,800 miles from Hawaii and about 4,000 from Guam. The island was widely used

Defending the Borders—Including the Western Border—of the United States

Commentary

For almost four centuries, Western political thought has identified the security of its peoples as the foremost responsibility of government. This tenet is a foundation of America’s founding and the country’s institutions and political principles, norms, and traditions. Security begins at the border, and if that is eroded, the government has failed its citizenry.

The US Government’s Responsibility Is to Defend Its Borders

A central argument of Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 work, “Leviathan,” was that the state must protect its citizens. Indeed, that was the point of entering into a commonwealth where individuals provided their loyalty in return for the respect of their rights and their security.

The Biden administration’s elimination of the United States’ southern border fails this obligation of the state with profound and predictable consequences for its citizens and politics. The United States, like every sovereign state, has borders that must be protected from individuals violating its laws.

The lack of protection provides a short and direct avenue for millions of people to enter illegally, the sum of which certainly includes criminals and terrorists, as well as narcotics and other illegal and counterfeit goods. The government must prevent this, not permit it, and certainly not encourage it.

The Threat Against America’s Western Borders

While the southern border is the center of gravity in America’s border woes, it is important to recognize that the concerns about the border must include the Western border of the United States—Guam, other U.S. territories, Hawaii, and Alaska. At a time when attention is focused on Taiwan due to the danger of a Chinese attack, few on the U.S. mainland may appreciate the danger to Guam, about 1,700 miles east of Taiwan.

While Guam is not threatened by border crossings, it is directly threatened by China’s military power projection capabilities as Beijing expands its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. This expansion intends to deny the United States and its allies the ability to defend its interests, including the defense of its states, territories, and allies.

Guam is valuable for the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy.

First, Guam is a key component of its logistical infrastructure, which, in turn, permits Washington’s power projection in the region. Ammunition and fuel storage are essential.

Second, it is also home to major military installations, including the Guam naval base for Pacific fleet submarines and Andersen Air Force base, from which bombers and fighters may project power into the Western Pacific.

Third, the island provides all-domain communications nodes for operations in the Indo-Pacific.

Fourth, it also hosts training facilities and offers staging for joint force operations.

Alaska and Guam are the western borders of the United States. While both are threatened directly by America’s enemy—communist China—Guam’s proximity to the threat makes it particularly vulnerable.

China’s metastatic expansion of its missile force has alarmed such senior defense officials as Adm. Charles Richard, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command. Beijing has added greatly to its medium- and intermediate-range missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, land- and air-launched land-attack cruise missiles, and regional hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs).

China’s development of air-launched ballistic missiles (ALBMs) further increases the threat and the vectors from which China may attack the U.S. military installations and infrastructure. Guam urgently needs an integrated air and missile defense to meet the advanced ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missile threats it faces.

Epoch Times Photo
Military vehicles carrying hypersonic DF-17 missiles travel past Tiananmen Square during a military parade in Beijing, China, on Oct. 1, 2019. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

The Threat to Guam’s (and Thus America’s) Flanks

But the threat is not only from missiles. China is also outflanking the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing’s ability to threaten Guam is worsened by the growth of China’s sphere of influence to the east and south of Taiwan and the Philippines. This expansion includes China’s increasing influence in the Solomon Islands.

Of particular concern is the April 2022 security cooperation agreement between Honiara and Beijing that will allow Chinese port visits, logistical replenishment, and—tellingly—for China to dispatch police or the military to protect its people or major projects. This agreement places Chinese military power about 1,200 miles from Australia’s northern coast. China’s close relationship with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare alarms Canberra and Washington and compels the conclusion that these governments have thus far allowed Chinese influence to go unchecked.

Also notable is China’s refurbishing and expanding of a runway on Canton Island in the archipelago country of Kiribati. This is just 1,800 miles from Hawaii and about 4,000 from Guam. The island was widely used by the U.S. military aircraft during World War II to reach the Southwest Pacific Area, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Chinese presence there might expand from an airport infrastructure into a military base just as the Cubans did in Grenada before the U.S. invasion in 1983. Kiribati is not alone. Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga also have come under Chinese pressure to advance Beijing’s sphere of influence in Melanesia and Polynesia.

By outflanking Guam, China increases its ability to accomplish what Japan never did in World War II, severing the sea lines of communication between the United States and Australia. Also jeopardized are the lines of communication with Japan and Taiwan. Guam needs expanded missile defenses now to address the all-azimuth threat it faces. The United States also must work with governments in Melanesia and Polynesia, as well as with Australia, France, New Zealand, and Taiwan, to stop and reverse China’s advance in the Indo-Pacific.

The responsibilities of the U.S. government require that its states and territories be defended from all threats. As Americans have learned to their chagrin, those threats include the trafficking of humans and narcotics on the southern border. But they require protection from China’s de facto direct territorial expansion in the Pacific, which today endangers U.S. states and territories.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Bradley A. Thayer is a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger: China and is the co-author of “How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics.”