Trump’s Wall: A Sign of Failure
According to unofficial and somewhat dated reports, one of Qin Shi Huang’s major campaign promises to the hordes when running for emperor of a unified China was to (re)build a “Great Wall of China” which, he promised, the XiongNu to the North would pay for.
Qin’s battle cry was
“Build that Wall” “Build and move on.”
Of course, the XiongNu never paid for the earthen wall, but Qin moved on nevertheless paying for the wall with the deaths of what has been estimated to be “hundreds of thousands,if not up to a million, workers…”
In all seriousness, the Qin Wall and previous and future walls (collectively referred to as “The Great Wall”) were built, re-built and enhanced over the centuries for defensive purposes — to guard against invasions by various nomadic groups.
Other purposes of the Great Wall have included “border controls…imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and [yes] the control of immigration and emigration.”
But, was the Wall effective?
The consensus is that the Wall was generally successful in keeping the invading hordes out – with a couple of exceptions.
The success can perhaps be attributed to the over-time addition of “cutting-edge technologies and feats of engineering skills” such as watch towers, signaling capabilities through smoke and fires, and other methods of “surveillance,” warning and deterrence.
Contrary to what Trump would like one to believe, Americans –- including Democrats — are 100 percent for national and border security. It would be foolish – suicidal – not to be. But Americans are not fixated on a “A BIG & BEAUTIFUL WALL!” along the SOUTHERN BORDER (caps and emphases Trump’s) that “Mexico will pay for.”
While physical barriers may be called for in certain places along the border, Trump’s “wall fixation,” his failure to grasp “the role of modern technologies” in policing and securing our borders, is actually “impending border security.”
That is the headline, essence and conclusion of an excellent article at the Council of Foreign Relations blog by David P. Fidler.
In it, Fidler notes:
• Trump’s fixation solely on his wall, “rejects arguments that better border security requires technology more than additional physical barriers.”
• “The number of people apprehended at the border for illegally entering the United States from Mexico has steadily fallen for two decades, with the most significant decline happening during the period border security policy scaled up the use of advanced technologies.” A period that began when Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, “which stressed the importance of ‘more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras.’”
Fidler further points out that governments all over the globe have worked to integrate advanced, digital technologies – such as drones, powerful cameras, various detection devices and sensors, mobile communications, satellite imagery, biometrics, big-data analytics, and artificial intelligence — into border security efforts.
Also, that Trump’s obsession with concrete slabs or steel slats proves his fundamental misunderstanding of the historical purpose and degrees of success of walls and “goes deeper than his inability to accept the evidence that no security or humanitarian crisis exists along the border with Mexico.”
Whether to keep people in (the Berlin Wall) or to keep people out (the Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall or Trump’s BIG & BEAUTIFUL WALL!), such walls reflect failed ideas and ideals.
In the case of Trump’s wall, it would be…
…a symbol for America’s failure to implement effective immigration policies. It would be a tombstone marking the abandonment of our values that protect refugees and welcome immigrants. It would be a monument to our neglect to support healthy democracies in our hemisphere.
Lead image: Department of Homeland Security