With the government in partial shutdown and politicos berating each side for holding the nation to ransom, the reality of President Trump’s proposed border wall is beginning to make major headlines.
Democrats and a significant portion of Republicans keep telling the American people that walls don’t work, but is that true? Walls have been built throughout history. Either our ancestors were ignorant, or they were on to something.
The Great Wall of China
The most well-known historical example is the Great Wall of China, which is a more than 5000-mile-long fortification built over hundreds of years by multiple dynasties to protect China from the invading marauders from the Mongolian steppes. By comparison, the border between the U.S. and Mexico is only some 2000 miles long.
The Chinese didn’t have machines or advanced technology to build the wall. An estimated one million ordinary Chinese men died while building it. They were worked to death, and their bodies were used as material in the construction. The Great Wall is therefore also one of the largest and certainly the longest graveyard in the world.
However, walls were so effective that despite the huge economic and human costs, the Chinese emperors justified their enormous expenses. By comparison, President Donald Trump’s border wall would cost around a week’s worth of government expenses, with no loss of life.
The Mediterranean Fortresses
Across the Mediterranean, there are beautiful castles with massive walls and fortifications. Why did these ancient people put so much labor into building walls? When the Roman Empire collapsed, and the Muslim empire conquered around 50% of Christian areas, a relentless jihad lasting hundreds of years put all Europeans in constant jeopardy.
All trade on the Mediterranean ceased due to Islamic piracy, and this contributed to sending Europe into its deepest and longest depression known as the Dark Ages.
Nevertheless, much of the classic Greek and Roman civilization survived the thousand-year-long invasion thanks to walls that work.
The Israeli Wall
What about today? The primary example of a successful wall is the one that protects the borders of Israel. The most controversial part of it was built in the West Bank between 2000 and 2003 after PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat turned down the offer of a Palestinian state and initiated the Second Intifada against Israel.
The fence is about 300 miles long, or 15% of the border between Mexico and the U.S. It cost around $2 billion to construct, and terrorist attacks dropped more than 95% to practically zero after the wall was finished. Today, it is almost universally acknowledged in Israel that the wall worked and was a good idea. This also includes Israeli Arab Palestinians living near the border. They report less crime and terror, improved trade and a far better relationship with their Jewish neighbors. The wall led to less polarization and more unity in Israel.
It’s a well-known and well-established fact that walls work. Through most of history this has not been controversial; that’s why walls have been built around the world during all eras. For some reason this common-sense knowledge has been lost or suppressed by highly-educated people who “know so much that isn’t so,” to paraphrase former President Ronald Reagan. They make strange remarks such as if you build a wall you just need a ladder, as if there is nothing more to border security than the wall. So why don’t the terrorists use ladders to climb the fence in Israel?
In addition to the security barrier, Israel also has security cameras, radars, and other high-tech detection technologies, plus automatic machine gun turrets that shoot at anyone who comes within a certain distance from the wall. The technology can detect a person approaching and immediately sounds off an alarm to the border guards, who then have time to drive or fly to the place where the border is being breached.
The wall is there to slow down invaders so that the guards get there in time to stop them. That’s why even the Great Wall of China had guard towers at regular intervals. Anyone with even a modicum of insight into military strategy knows these things. We may wonder why allegedly intelligent and well-educated people have lost this self-evident knowledge. There may be other reasons not to build a wall, but ineffectiveness is not one of them.