Alexander the Great, conquering much of the known world by age 33, was truly a "great" leader. Testament to that were the scores of cities named after him.
Yet he paled in comparison to Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, who, in expanding the largest contiguous empire in history, conquered every one of Alexander’s cities. Despite his many attempts, however, even the Great Khan of Khans could not conquer the most valued prize – Xiangyang, gateway to southern China and the Yangtze River, and the most important city of the Song Dynasty.
Why was capturing Xiangyang so difficult? Simple. It had a wall – a very big wall. It was 23 feet thick, over 30 feet high, and stretched for miles. Only with the invention of long-range catapults did the city eventually fall decades later to Genghis’ grandson, Kublai.
The Song built their wall for good reason: Walls worked. They had been used successfully for thousands of years, not just protecting those behind them, but preserving a civilization’s very way of life. From ancient Greece, Rome and China (the Great Wall comes to mind), to the cities and castles of medieval Europe, walls have been strategic assets for defending, and advancing, society’s interests.
But haven’t they become outdated, serving only as symbols of intolerance and political incorrectness? Not a chance. Just ask the Israelis.
During the Second Intifada that started in September 2000 – where Palestinians waged deadly terror attacks against Israeli citizens – the Israeli government finally had enough; it authorized the construction of a barrier between the West Bank and Israel.
It worked. Big time.
In 2002, as construction commenced, there were 73 suicide bombings by Palestinians from the West Bank, killing more than 450 and injuring more than 2,000. But as each segment was completed, the carnage lessened, dropping to just 12 attacks in 2006. Today, hostile infiltrations have become virtually nonexistent.
Has the wall isolated Palestinians from Israeli society, and have tourists been denied access to historic sites in the Palestinian Territories, such as Bethlehem and Jericho? As this author can attest, having recently traveled throughout the Palestinian territories, not at all. In fact, many vetted Palestinians commute to Israel unhindered, passing through checkpoints with ease. And because border-crossing agents employ the latest technology and profiling techniques to monitor who enters and exits, the amount of explosives and weapons ending up in terrorist hands has vastly decreased, making everyone safer – Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Likewise, Egypt constructed a border wall between it and the Gaza Strip as a way to mitigate infiltration by terror groups and prevent the unchecked flow of refugees.
In the wake of numerous terror attacks throughout the continent, several European countries have significantly strengthened their borders to control the massive number of unvetted, often unskilled refugees streaming from the Middle East. And for good reason – some of those folks committed the deadly attacks.
Closer to home, talks continue about sealing the southern border to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, drug cartels, human traffickers and tax-evading cargo smugglers. We’re not talking about the U.S. border, but the Mexico-Guatemala border, where over a half-million folks try to enter illegally each year, wreaking havoc on Mexico’s physical and economic security. How ironic that the Mexican government vigorously criticizes American efforts to secure its southern border – interfering in our sovereign affairs – yet often brutally repels those crossing its southern border. And what do we hear now? Mexico possibly constructing – ready for this? – a southern border wall.
Can’t make this up.
President Trump’s biggest fault has been improperly framing the border wall issue. Sure, the wall will impede the flow of illegal immigrants, but comprehensive immigration reform dealing with those already here will better resolve that issue. More important for the day-to-day well-being of the American people will be the wall’s effectiveness in deterring drug smuggling. And in case anyone’s been living under a rock for the last 50 years, America has a significant drug problem. Protecting America’s youth substantially trumps thwarting illegals simply looking for a better life.
Additionally, a wall would hinder "coyotes" – human traffickers who often take people’s life savings as payment for smuggling them into America, only to rape and murder their "cargo," or leave them to die in the back of a truck.
Finally, given that ISIS and al-Qaida aren’t stupid, it’s only a matter of time before they walk across our open border with a biological, chemical or suitcase nuclear weapon. So when Phoenix gets vaporized, at least we’ll know why. And walking across the open border isn’t an exaggeration, as many miles are completely devoid of barriers and border patrol agents.
The fact that most Democrats and some Republicans still can’t comprehend the need for a border wall is incomprehensible, especially since it wouldn’t be "anti-immigration," but anti-illegal immigration. Too many forget that America welcomes over a million legal immigrants per year – more than every other country combined.
Now that we know why a wall is so important, it’s time to think about deporting Donald Trump if he can’t get that wall funded. And it appears that’s exactly what just occurred, given his dubious claim that he’ll "revisit" the issue later.
This is becoming a pattern – like his vague pledge to revisit health care "later" after the inexcusable failure to repeal Obamacare (along with the wall, his other paramount campaign promise); his brushed-aside commitment to investigate voter fraud (including the three million who he alleges gave the popular vote to Hillary); the untouched Iran nuclear deal; and America’s still-in-place unfavorable trade deals with China.
The fact that Mr. Trump has been blaming Democrats for their opposition to funding the wall, and by extension, blaming them for creating a possible government shutdown, is insane.
In case the president hasn’t realized it, the Republicans control everything in Washington. Everything. They don’t need Democratic support to pass legislation, especially with such a large majority in the House. Mr. Trump’s inability to get his own people on board is a colossal failure of leadership, and has nothing – zero – to do with the Democrats. Ditto for blaming the Dems for the health-care failure.
Maybe he should be more concerned about why there is no national ad campaign explaining to the American people why a border wall is necessary.
Let’s be honest: Funding the wall isn’t an issue. We spend money on everything else (hence the $20 trillion debt), so a mere $10 billion for a wall is peanuts. Hell, the government spends more than that in a single day! And even if funds really are that tight, just lop $10 billion off the ridiculous $54 billion increase in defense spending that the president wants. And build the wall, at least partially, with non-violent prisoners (a win-win, as it would save billions in prison costs), and illegal immigrants as a way for them to earn resident status.
Bottom line: This is a personal issue masquerading as a political one. And that’s exactly what happens when a president continually shoots off his mouth and insults people rather than acting presidentially.
President Trump is fast becoming the unflattering poster boy for the major difference between the two parties: Democrats wield power, while Republicans merely hold office.
It’s time for the president to stop squandering perhaps the greatest opportunity in American history. It’s time he gets his head out of the reality TV clouds and into the political game called running the country. And it’s time to build a border wall, because as Ronald Reagan correctly stated, "A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation."
President Trump, let’s get it done. And if not, prepare to be deported in the next election.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His print column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected]