January 6, 2019

Stonekettle's Wall

Stonekettle's Wall

So, if you hadn't noticed, the government is currently shut down. If you were as lucky as I was, you were traveling during the shutdown (which is still ongoing as of today) and experiencing the (rightfully) agitated stares of numb, robotic, 1000-yard stare laden TSA agents who are working without getting paid.

Why is the government shut down at the moment? Well, it's because the Mad Toddler President is having a tantrum over a vanity project that he can't get funding for. He told his voting base that Mexico was going to pay for it, but they declined. So he generated tarrifs to make Mexico pay for it ("I'm the tarrif man!") but he doesn't know how tarrifs work, or hopes his base doesn't, because it means US consumers are paying more for goods now (whoops!). But even that wasn't enough, so now he wants a budget of $5.6 billion dollars for it and, after the people spoke in the mid-terms, and the democrats - despite egregious anti-voting tactics and circus-levels of gentrifcation - took the house, they won't give it to him.

So he's having a tantrum. And he won't fund the rest of the government unless, arms-crossed, someone buys him a new toy. So, ignoring the fact that you can catapult things over it or tunnel under it, our president, supposedly an adult, will not fund the government unless he gets a border wall.

Oh while we're at it, lets also ignore that this will literally take land away from US citizens, and cut swaths through their property, using eminent domain which will throw all of it into thousands of legal cases that will all have to be battled (also paid for with tax dollars) and take years and years.

Ignoring all of that - Stonekettle, in an excellent post, also had some very good points to make:

Let's say we build this wall. Let's say we give Trump the money and we build a wall 30 feet tall, 2000 miles long. Doesn't matter how, doesn't matter what it costs, don't worry about the details. Build the wall, right?

No. No. Don't roll your eyes. It's not a trap. This isn't me doing that thing where I seem to ask a provocatively obnoxious question, but I'm REALLY fishing for something else entirely. Nope. Not that. I'm saying: we build Trump's wall. 30 feet high, 2000 miles long.

Now, bear with me here:  
The US/Mexico border is 1954 miles long. Currently, about 700 miles is fenced in some fashion. Meaning a bit more than 1200 miles isn't. Why?

Well, because most of the border is remote, away from urban development, in rugged territory, deserts, etc. So, if you build this wall, 30 feet high, 2000 miles long, 1200+ miles of it would STILL traverse remote territory. Follow?

Now, people being people, it won't matter how high the wall is, or how thick, or whatever passive systems (such as spikes or concertina wire, etc) you include. Given enough time and resources, human ingenuity will find a way over, under, or through your wall in short order.

Particularly in remote areas, outside of full time observation. You don't need to take my word for this, you can research the effectiveness of such barriers from the Great Wall of China to the Berlin Wall, from Hadrian's Wall to the West Bank Barrier.

What's that? Oh, right. The West Bank Barrier, the wall which divides Israel from Palestine. It WORKS, you say. It does. BUT it's not just a wall, it's a multi-layered defense system. Barbed wire, anti-sniper concrete wall, vehicle ditches, electronic systems, patrols.

The cost to Israel (and Palestine) is high. It works. It keeps people penned up, apart. As it was designed to do and a number of American  conservatives look to the Israeli model as an example. The American version would have to be 3 times as long and even more expensive.

That barrier was designed, rightly or wrongly, to separate nations and  people at WAR. And the ONLY way a such a barrier works is with constant monitoring,  constant patrolling. Because otherwise, as I mentioned up above, all you need to defeat it is a ladder and some time.

This is true of the West Bank Barrier. And it was true of Hadrian's Wall. And the Great Wall of China. The Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall, Saddam's line. They ALL had to be monitored and patrolled. Or they were no more an impediment to migration than any natural barrier.

Up above, I mentioned the Maginot Line. The French spent enormous resources to fortify their border. But once in  place, those resources were fixed. They could not move or be used elsewhere. When the Nazis did a rapid end run around the fortifications all the enormous resources of the Line were immediately rendered moot, left behind in their fixed, immobile positions. By its very nature, a wall is fixed in position. Meaning, the defenses and resources of a wall are only useful AT THE WALL.

Walls are good for small, limited, controlled areas where the wall is  part of a larger system, and continuously monitored, protected, and  maintained. Where those manning the wall have a SIGNIFICANT advantage  over those the wall is designed to control.  

Like a prison.

For Trump's wall, 2000 miles long, to work, you will HAVE to monitor it  in real-time along every inch. You will have to install cameras and  sensors, fly drones and aircraft, and put out daily patrols. Any unattended section, any blind spot will be found, and exploited.

The people of the US and Central America are not at war. Those seeking refuge in the US are unlikely to storm the border with a  Blitzkrieg of tanks -- and if they were, WE WOULDN'T BUILD A WALL ANYWAY  because the US military doesn't fight from fixed positions.

Those who build walls in the desert often die on them. As Saddam's army  learned -- or didn't actually, given how the second war with the US  went.

Again, walls are useful for certain limited applications. But they are  utterly impractical over thousands of miles. Your assets become fixed,  inflexible, unable to adapt, and if bypassed they're useless. You will NEVER get a return on your investment.

If you have to have eyes on the border ANYWAY  
if you have to patrol the entire length in real time ANYWAY  
if you have to monitor the cameras and sensors and drones ANYWAY  
if you have to counter any breach anywhere anytime ANYWAY  

For a wall to work, to DO what Trump promises, it CAN'T be a simple  barrier. It would have to be a complex system of technology and human beings  where the physical wall itself is the LEAST part, its defenses fixed and  inflexible, unable to adapt to changing circumstance.

Once you implement the supporting systems and personnel you need to secure the wall, YOU NO LONGER NEED THE WALL. And without a wall, those systems become much more flexible, mobile, unpredictable, and adaptable. And cheaper. Vastly cheaper.

History, our own military strategy, and our national security policies  learned over two painful centuries, demonstrate just how useless and ill  advised a fixed defense is. A simple wall is a simple solution for simple minds and worthless for anything else.

But, that's the thing, isn't it? THAT, right there, is the joker in the deck.   Build this wall, 2000 miles long, 30 feet high. Spend billions. And it doesn't work. Or doesn't work ENOUGH. Because it won't. People still get in.   https://twitter.com/Asabovsobelo/status/1076870192704180229 …

People still get in. Because they will. They'll go over your wall, under it, through it. To justify the money  you spent, you'll have to spend MORE. More security people, more  technology, more concrete, more barbed wire, more guns, more land.  And people will STILL get in.

People will still get in. They'll go around your wall, risking their lives on the ocean. So you'll  have to patrol that, in force. You'll have to guard the coast, walk the  beaches on foot, put up air patrols, more technology, build more walls.    And still, they'll get in.

They'll find a way, by land, by sea, by air, somehow they'll find a way.  They'll get in, because humans are tenacious -- especially when they  have nothing to lose. They'll get in. Even if they don't, you'll THINK that they are. They're STILL getting in, you'll believe.

Those who profit from fear need somebody to blame. It's the easiest form of power, the simplest way to manipulate the  rudest of minds. THEM. THEY'RE getting in. THEY'RE taking your jobs, raping, murdering, stealing YOUR democracy. THEM. We gotta do more.

We gotta be safe. You built the walls, you patrol the beaches and the skies. But it's not enough, those in power tell you. THEY are still getting in. THEY are here. Oh yes THEY are. Who else would be causing these problems?  We gotta do more.

We gotta be SAFE. Don't you want to be safe? Don't you want your kids to be safe? Of course you do. We gotta do MORE.

We've done everything to keep them out, but they're still HERE. So, we need some way to identify who belongs and who doesn't. You need proper identification.  And then we'll need some sort of police force to check those papers... We have to be safe, don't we?

Papers, please. Papers.  

That's how this goes. That's how this goes EVERY time. It's never enough. You can never be sure. You can never be safe. Those who thrive on this kind of power, the power of fear, they need you to be afraid. And so it will NEVER be enough. EVER.

Listen to me: You start building walls, you're building your own prison.

So we have examples of this kind of thing, we know how effective this is (or how not). This is already a disaster, and it hasn't even been funded yet - and hopefully won't be. But here we are. Toddler, arms crossed, people unable to pay rent, pay mortgage, pay debt and running out of food escalating into what, exactly?