The fundamental rationale for building a wall along our southern border is presumably to keep out undesirable elements from our country. Democrats would counter that argument by pointing out that there are viable alternatives to a wall which are just as effective and not nearly so expensive. One can argue back and forth about the efficacy of such a wall, but I think I'd be most inclined to heed the words of a man who knew something about the effectiveness of wall building as a means of keeping hostile elements isolated. That man is General George Smith Patton, Jr.
General Patton had this to say about the performance of walls as a barrier against one's enemies. "Troy fell; that the walls of Hadrian succumbed; that the Great Wall of China was futile...". He also pointed out that, "fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.". It must be understood that while General Patton may not have been a professional historian, he studied military history closely because he understood that the best way to avoid mistakes in the present was to study the lessons learned from the past. He knew that over time walls would be breached. If they proved to be too impenetrable to be breached then the best way to deal with a wall was to go around it, a lesson the French learned during both the First and Second World Wars
General Patton's main line of reasoning was that a wall gives one a false sense of security. It was too easy for you to assume that since you had this invincible shield, you were perfectly safe. What George Patton learned by studying past history was that walls cannot guarantee security and that thinking that walls were somehow impenetrable was simply delusional. Now, of course, General Patton was looking at the wall from a purely military point of view. He wasn't talking about keeping undesirable elements where they belonged. So let's examine the wall as a mere barrier.
The important thing to understand about President Trump's wall is that it is nothing but a massive public works project, nothing more. Think of it as something straight out of the New Deal, a latter day version of the TVA. Whether such a project would be effective as a barrier is subject to debate, but there is one thing we know about such a project for sure, it will cost a LOT of money. While the initial price tag might be 5.7 billion dollars, I'd be willing to bet that the final cost of constsruction will be much higher. There will be delays due to weather, labor disputes, material shortages and a whole host of other factors that will send the cost of construction soaring. By the time the project is designed, contracts let, enabling legislation passed, it is entirely possible that construction of the wall wouldn't begin until AFTER the 2020 Presidential election. What might happen then? Our NEXT President might consider the wall a boondoggle of massive proportions. He or she might decide to call a halt to such a project before it's too late. As a result, all that time, energy, and effort will have proven to be a complete waste of time.
Donald Trump won election as our 45th President, in part, because he successfully portrayed himself as an expert negotiator. From the events of recent days, it has become apparent that nothing could be further from the truth. A good negotiator knows when he has drawn a losing hand and that it is a good idea NOT to throw good money after bad. What President Trump doesn't seem to understand is that building a wall along our southern border is a losing hand. The partial shutdown of the federal government ought to be proof positive of this proposition. Now if President Trump were a sharp negotiator, he'd simply cut a deal for more funds for border security and let it go at that. But this seems to be beyond the President's limited capacity to grasp even fundamental truths. And so a totally unnecessary government shutdown grinds on. At some point the President will see that he doesn't have the cards to win the game, at which point he will fold and walk away from the table, an abject loser. This is all well and good, but unfortunately he will make millions of American citizens losers too and they deserve better than that.
Filed under: Politics