How Not to Build a ‘Great, Great Wall’

Trump’s promise of an insurmountable barrier between the U.S. and Mexico is an exercise in proven futility, writes Greg Grandin in this guided tour of fortification efforts over several decades. 

By Greg Grandin
TomDispatch
The point was less to actually build “the wall” than to constantly announce the building of the wall. “We started building our wall. I’m so proud of it,” Donald Trump tweeted. “What a thing of beauty.”
In fact, no wall, or certainly not the “big, fat, beautiful one promised by Trump, is being built. True, miles of some kind of barrier —barbed wire, chain-link and steel-slat fencing, corrugated panels, and, yes, even lengths of what can only be described as concrete wall— have gone up along the U.S.-Mexico border, starting at least as far back as the administration of President William Taft, early in the last century. Trump has claimed repairs and expansions of these barriers as proof that he is fulfilling his signature campaign promise. Plaques have already been bolted onto upgrades in existing fencing, crediting him with work started and funded by previous administrations.

 

And yet Trump’s phantasmagorical wall, whether it ever materializes or not, has become a central artifact in American politics. Think of his promise of a more than 1,000-mile-long, 30-foot-high ribbon of concrete and steel running along the southern border of the United States as America’s new myth. It is a monument to the final closing of the frontier, a symbol of a nation that used to believe it had escaped history, but now finds itself trapped by history, and of a people who used to believe they were captains of the future, but now are prisoners of the past.

From Open to Closed Borders

Prior to World War I, the border—established in the late 1840s and early 1850s after the U.S. military invaded Mexico and took a significant part of that country’s territory — was relatively unpoliced. As historian Mae Ngai has pointed out, before World War I the United States “had virtually open borders” in every sense of the term. The only exception: laws that explicitly excluded Chinese migrants. “You didn’t need a passport,” says Ngai. “You didn’t need a visa. There was no such thing as a green card. If you showed up at Ellis Island, walked without a limp, had money in your pocket, and passed a very simple [IQ] test in your own language, you were admitted.”

A similar openness existed at the border with Mexico. “There is no line to indicate the international boundary,” reported Motor Age, a magazine devoted to promoting automobile tourism, in 1909. The only indication that you had crossed into a new country, heading south, was the way a well-graded road turned into a “rambling cross-country trail, full of chuck-holes and dust.”

 Memorial coffins on the US-Mexico barrier for those killed crossing the border fence in Tijuana, México. (Tomas Castelazo, Wikimedia)

Memorial coffins on  U.S.-Mexico barrier for those killed crossing the border fence in Tijuana, México. (Tomas Castelazo, Wikimedia)

The next year, the State Department made plans to roll “great coils of barbed wire… in a straight line over the plain” across the open borderland range where Texans and Mexicans ran their cattle. The hope was to build “the finest barbed-wire boundary line in the history of the world.” Not, though, to keep out people, as the border wasn’t yet an obstacle for the Mexican migrant workers who traveled back and forth, daily or seasonally, to work in homes, factories, and fields in the United States. That barbed-wire barrier was meant to quarantine tick-infested longhorn cattle. Both Washington and Mexico City hoped that such a fence would help contain “Texas Fever,” a parasitic disease decimating herds of cattle on both sides of the border and leading to a rapid rise in the cost of beef.

As far as I can tell, the first use of the word “wall” to describe an effort to close off the border came with the tumultuous Mexican Revolution. “American troops,” announced the Department of War in March 1911 during Taft’s presidency, “have been sent to form a solid military wall along the Rio Grande.” Yes, Donald Trump was not the first to deploy the U.S. Army to the border. Twenty thousand soldiers, a large percentage of that military at the time, along with thousands of state militia volunteers, were dispatched to stop the movement of arms and men not out of, but into Mexico, in an effort to cut off supplies to revolutionary forces. Such a “wall” would “prove an object lesson to the world,” claimed the Department of War. The point: to reassure European investors in Mexico that the U.S. had the situation south of the border under control. “The revolution in the republic to the south must end” was the lesson that the soldiers were dispatched to teach.

The revolution, however, raged on and borderland oil companies like Texaco began building their own private border walls to protect their holdings. Then, in April 1917, the month the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law a set of sweeping constraints on immigration generally, including literacy tests, entrance taxes, and quota restrictions. From that point on, the border sharpened — literally, as lengths of barbed wire were stretched ever further on either side of port-of-entry customs houses.

Border Crossing at San Isidro. (Josh Denmark/Flickr)

What follows is a chronology of both the physical fortification of the U.S.-Mexico boundary and the psychic investment in such a fortification— the fantasy, chased by both Democrats and Republicans for more than half a century, that with enough funds, technology, cement, steel, razor ribbon, barbed wire, and personnel, the border could be sealed. This timeline illustrates how some of the most outward-looking presidents, men who insisted that the prosperity of the nation was inseparable from the prosperity of the world, also presided over the erection of a deadly run of border barriers, be they called fences or walls, that would come to separate the United States from Mexico.

A Chronology

1945: The first significant physical barrier, a chain-link fence about five miles long and 10 feet high, went up along the Mexican border near Calexico, California. Its posts and wire mesh were recycled from California’s Crystal City Internment Camp, which had been used during World War II to hold Japanese-Americans.

1968: Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” famously played to the resentments of white southern Democrats who opposed civil rights. As it turned out, though, the president had another southern strategy in mind as well, a “border strategy.” As historian Patrick Timmons has written, running for president in 1968, Nixon promised to get tough on illegal drugs from Mexico —the “marijuana problem,” he called it. Shortly after winning the White House, he launched “Operation Intercept,” a brief but prophetic military-style, highly theatrical crackdown along the border. That operation created three weeks of chaos, described by National Security Archive analyst Kate Doyle as an “unprecedented slow-down of all plane, truck, car and foot traffic— legitimate or not — flowing from Mexico into the southern United States.” That it would be run by two right-wing figures, G. Gordon Liddy and Joe Arpaio, should be a reminder of the continuities between the Nixon era and the kind of demagoguery that now rules the country. Arpaio would become the racist sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who gratuitously imposed humiliating, brutal and often deadly conditions on his overwhelmingly Latino prisoners. He would also become an early supporter of Donald Trump and would receive the first pardon of Trump’s presidency after a judge found him in criminal contempt in a racial-profiling case. Liddy, of course, went on to run Nixon’s “Plumbers,” the burglars who infamously broke into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, precipitating the president’s downfall. In his 1996 memoir, Liddy said Operation Intercept primarily wasn’t about stopping the flow of pot. Instead, its “true purpose” was “an exercise in international extortion, pure, simple, and effective, designed to bend Mexico to our will” — to force that country to be more cooperative on a range of policies.

1973-1977: The United States had just lost a war in Vietnam largely because it proved impossible to control a border dividing the two parts of that country. In fact, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, desperate to keep North Vietnamese forces from infiltrating South Vietnam, had spent more than $500 million on 200,000 spools of barbed wire and 5 million fence posts, intending to build a “barrier” — dubbed the “McNamara Line” — running from the South China Sea to Laos. That line failed dismally. The first bulldozed six-mile strip quickly became overgrown with jungle, while its wooden watch towers were, the New York Times reported, “promptly burned down.” It was as that war ended that, for the first time, rightwing activists began to call for a “wall” to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Biologist Garrett Hardin, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was typical. In “Population and Immigration: Compassion or Responsibility?,” an essay in the Ecologist, he wrote: “We might build a wall, literally.” Hardin was an early exponent of what today is called “race realism,” which holds that, in a world of limited resources and declining white birth rates, borders must be “hardened.”

During these years, southern border conflicts were especially acute in California, where Ronald Reagan was then governor. As San Diego’s sprawl began to push against agricultural fields where migrant workers from Mexico toiled, racist attacks on them increased. Vigilantes drove around the back roads of the greater San Diego area shooting at Mexicans from the flatbeds of their pickup trucks. Dozens of bodies were found in shallow graves.

Such anti-migrant violence was fueled, in part, by angry Vietnam veterans who began to carry out what they called “beaner raids” to break up migrant camps. Snipers also took aim at Mexicans crossing the border. Led by the 27-year-old David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan set up a “border watch” in 1977 at the San Ysidro point of entry and received significant support from local Border Patrol agents. Other KKK groups soon set up similar patrols in south Texas, placing leaflets stamped with skulls and crossbones on the doorsteps of Latino residents. Around this time, in the swampy Tijuana estuary, an area that border vigilantes began calling “Little ‘Nam,” U.S. border agents reported finding pitfall traps modeled on the punji traps the Vietnamese had set for American soldiers.

1979: President Jimmy Carter’s administration offered a plan to build a fence along heavily trafficked stretches of the border, but scuttled the idea as the 1980 presidential election approached.

1980-1984: “You don’t build a 9-foot fence along the border between two friendly nations,” Ronald Reagan said on a presidential campaign swing through Texas in September 1980. By taking a swipe at the Carter administration’s plans, he was making a play for that state’s Latino vote, 87 percent of which had gone to Carter four years earlier. “You document the undocumented workers and let them come in here with a visa,” Reagan said, and let them stay “for whatever length of time they want to stay.”

Gov. Reagan 1969. (Wikimedia Commons)

Then, four years later, President Reagan shifted gears. “Our borders are out of control,” he insisted in October 1984. As he ran for reelection, his administration started pushing the idea that the border could indeed be “sealed” and that the deployment of “high tech” equipment — infrared scopes, spotter planes, night-vision goggles — might provide just such effective control. “New stuff,” claimed a Border Patrol official, though some of the ground sensors being set out along that border were leftovers from Vietnam. In his second term, Reagan did get an immigration reform bill passed that helped more than 2 million undocumented residents obtain citizenship. But his administration, looking to appease a growing caucus of nativists in the Republican Party, also launched Operation Jobs, sending federal agents into workplaces to round up and deport undocumented workers. In 1984, the Border Patrol saw the largest staff increase in its 60-year history.

1989: In March 1989, a few months before the Berlin Wall fell, the new administration of President George H. W. Bush proposed building a 14-foot-wide, 5-foot-deep border trench south of San Diego. Some likened it to a “moat,” since it would be filled with run-off rainwater. “The only thing they haven’t tried is mining the area,” quipped Robert Martinez, the director of San Diego’s American Friends Service Committee. Opponents called it an “inverted Berlin Wall,” while the White House claimed that the trench would solve both drainage and immigration problems. The idea was shelved.

1992: Richard Nixon’s former speechwriter Patrick Buchanan provided an unexpectedly strong challenge to a sitting president for the Republican nomination, calling, among other things, for a wall or a ditch —  a “Buchanan trench,” as he put it — along the U.S.-Mexico border and for the Constitution to be amended so that migrant children born in the country couldn’t claim citizenship. Bush won the nomination, but Buchanan managed to insert a pledge in the Republican platform to build a “structure” on the border. It proved an embarrassment at a moment when there was an emerging post-Cold War consensus among Republican and Democratic Party leaders that a free trade agreement with Mexico had to be encouraged and the border left open, at least for corporations and capital. Bush’s campaign tried to fudge the issue by claiming that a “structure” didn’t necessarily mean a wall, but Buchanan’s people promptly shot back. “They don’t put lighthouses on the border,” his sister and spokesperson Bay Buchanan said.

1993: Having passed the North American Free Trade Agreement in Congress, President Bill Clinton immediately started to militarize the border, once again significantly increasing the budget and staff of the Border Patrol and supplying it with ever more technologically advanced equipment: infrared night scopes, thermal-imaging devices, motion detectors, in-ground sensors, and software that allowed biometric scanning of all apprehended migrants. Stadium lights went up, shining into Tijuana. Hundreds of miles of what the Clinton White House refused to call a “wall” went up as well. “We call it a fence,” said one government official. “‘Wall’ has kind of a negative connotation.”

The objective was to close off relatively safe urban border crossings and force migrants to use more treacherous places in their attempts to reach the United States, either the creosote flatlands of south Texas or the gulches and plateaus of the Arizona desert. Trips that used to take days now took weeks on arid sands and under a scorching sun. Clinton’s Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner, Doris Meissner, claimed “geography” as an “ally” — meaning that desert torments would work wonders as a deterrent.

The Clinton White House was so eager to put up a set of barriers that it barely paid attention to the actual borderline, at one point mistakenly running a section of the structure into Mexico, prompting a protest from that country’s government.

Another stretch, spanning 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, would be built using Vietnam-era steel helicopter landing pads stood on end. Their edges were so sharp that migrants trying to climb over them often severed their fingers. As one observer noted, the use of the pads raised “the chilling possibility” that the U.S. might be able to “wall off the country” with leftover war matériel.

“Build that wall!” (Wikipedia)

2006: The Secure Fence Act, passed by President George W. Bush’s administration with considerable Democratic support, appropriated billions of dollars to pay for drones, a “virtual wall,” aerostat blimps, radar, helicopters, watchtowers, surveillance balloons, razor ribbon, landfill to block canyons, border berms, adjustable barriers to compensate for shifting dunes, and a lab (located at Texas A&M and run in partnership with Boeing) to test fence prototypes. The number of border agents doubled yet again and the length of border fencing quadrupled. Operation Streamline detained, prosecuted, and tried migrants en masse and then expedited their deportation (mostly using an immigration reform law Clinton had signed in 1996). Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (created after 9/11) seized children off school buses and tracked undocumented residents deep into liberal states, including in the exclusive Hamptons on New York’s Long Island and in New Bedford, Massachusetts. All told, in his eight years in office, Bush deported 2 million people, at a rate roughly matched by his successor, Barack Obama.

2013: The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a bill in June 2013 that — in exchange for the promise of a one-time amnesty and a long-shot chance at citizenship for some of the millions of undocumented residents in the country — offered more billions of dollars for policing, fencing, and deportations. According to the New York Times, with a winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan (however brief it would prove to be), defense contractors like Lockheed Martin were betting on a “military-style buildup at the border zone,” hoping to supply even more helicopters, heat-seeking cameras, radiation detectors, virtual fences, watchtowers, ships, Predator drones, and military-grade radar. The bill failed in the House, killed by nativists. But the Democratic Party would continue to fund “tough-as-nails” (in the phrase of New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer) border security programs that amounted to years of up-armoring the border in what was then referred to as a “border surge.”

No one really knows how many people have died trying to get into the United States since Washington began to make the border tough as nails. Most die of dehydration, hyperthermia, or hypothermia. Others drown in the Rio Grande. Since about 1998, the Border Patrol has reported nearly 7,000 deaths, with groups like the Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos estimating that the remains of at least 6,000 immigrants have been recovered. These numbers are, however, undoubtedly just a fraction of the actual toll.

June 16, 2015: Donald J. Trump descends an escalator in Trump Tower to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” to announce his presidential campaign and denounce “Mexican rapists.”

“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border,” he tells Americans. “And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”

Show Me a 50-Foot Wall…

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” poet Robert Frost once wrote.

Borders, not to mention walls, represent domination and exploitation. But they also symbolize the absurdity of political leaders taking the world as it is and trying to make it as they think it ought to be. However much people might curse border fortifications, they also enjoy subverting them -— even if the subversion only lasts a moment, as when citizens of Naco, Sonora, and Naco, Arizona, play an annual volleyball game over the border fence; or when an artist decides to paint “the world’s longest mural” on border fencing; or when families come together to gossip, tell jokes, and pass tamales and sweets between the posts; or when couples get married through the spaces separating the slats. As long as the United States keeps coming up with new ways to fortify the border, people will keep coming up with new ways to beat the border, including tunnels, ramps, catapults and homemade cannons (to launch bales of marijuana to the other side), and GoFundMe campaigns to pay for ladders.

As Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona and former director of Homeland Security, once said, “Show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.”

Greg Grandin, a TomDispatch regular, teaches history at New York University. His newest book, “The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America (Metropolitan Books), will be published in March. He is the author of “Fordlandia,” shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, “The Empire of Necessity,” which won the Bancroft Prize in American history, and “Kissinger’s Shadow.” 

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41 comments for “How Not to Build a ‘Great, Great Wall’

  1. Rohit
    January 24, 2019 at 08:15

    The difficulty is that a cacophany of “Trump is wrong, Trump is wrong” punctuated occasionally by “Trump is evil,” is not going to bring peace, and neither will it bring progress. Progress only comes from acknowledging the extent to which the other side is right instead of constantly harping on how he is wrong.

    But shouldn’t Trump acknowledge the extent to which Democrats are right?

    Yes, but he does do it, for instance his offer on DACA. But Democrats routinely ignore anything positive coming from Trump. Their eyes are fixated on defeating Trump in 2020.

    But two years is too long to go without progress on our important issues.

  2. January 21, 2019 at 17:13

    Walls work. That’s not arguable.

    The trouble is, this particular wall is a distraction and diversion from the real issue. Immigration is not the BIGGEST problem for American workers.

    Offshoring is the BIGGEST problem, and more broadly an economy devoted totally to NYC finance. All real industry is being deleted. Some of it is going offshore, most is just erased. Trump has done a little good with tariffs, but even those are mostly noise without a serious industrial policy.

    We need to repeat what FDR did. Break the bankers first, then shape policies to rebuild jobs that an ordinary man can do

    In Europe right now, Soros’s invading army of migrants IS the biggest problem, and fences are making a real difference in countries like Hungary.

  3. Gloria Doerner
    January 20, 2019 at 18:20

    Trump and his supporters want to built the wall to keep off poor emigrants. What of a doble standard and hypocrisy when we know that most of the agriculture labor is perform by the same emigrants, they want to keep out. American families are subsided by the work of poor Mexican and Central American women who left their own children behind in order to support them. Many restaurants workers are “ilegal emigrants” too. We should try to be honest to ourselves, and take responsibility for our politics, and do not pretend to be good citizens when we are abusing and exploiting the most vulnerable.

    • Rohit
      January 24, 2019 at 08:18

      There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the contributions made by migrant workers. The problem is that instead of a well designed system of guest workers we have a system of “if you can get in, somehow, then the Democrats will protect you, and never mind whether your contribution to America is positive or negative.”

      Chaos which you are implicitly defending, is not a substitute for a rational policy.

  4. Samantha
    January 19, 2019 at 18:34

    The wall is a symbol, and it has the importance of symbolism.
    It shows:

    (1) that Trump is serious about American laws, the wage competitiveness of American workers, and the allocation of public resources for American interests;

    and

    (2) that the Democrat establishment cares more about identity politics and cheap labor for the 1%.

    P.S. Until 2012, I was a Democrat.

    • OlyaPola
      January 20, 2019 at 03:11

      “The wall is a symbol, and it has the importance of symbolism.”

      The wall is a symbol : a vessel which others can fill/invest with their own perceptions and a catalyst in facilitating the process of filling/investing.

      Perceptions are encouraged to oscillate within a linear frame of we.

      As long as they do oscillate within the linear frame of we – as apparently do yours – it is of no consequence whether or not the perceptions are “true”, but all will be valid in facilitating the iteration/integration of/within the linear frame of we underpinning the social relations in the “United States of America” and elsewhere, further encouraged by the notion – everyone is entitled to their own opinion as long as the don’t seek to act on it.

      • Skip Scott
        January 20, 2019 at 11:59

        If there is anybody here who understands a single post from OlyaPola, I would find the interpretation entertaining. Then maybe I could thank you for your “data stream”.

      • OlyaPola
        January 21, 2019 at 00:53

        “Then maybe I could thank you for your “data stream”.”

        https://consortiumnews.com/2019/01/18/exclusive-they-spy-with-their-little-eye/.

        Like the STASI before them the present opponents seek to access all data-streams, this process being symbolic of their nervousness/weakness – like the STASI they want to gobble all of the sausages, their appetite being a function of their oscillating unease.

        There are various uses of data-streams including as catalysts to encourage doubt/fear in those whose data-streams are collected in hope of encouraging their further integration into the concept of we.

        An example among many of this process in the “United States of America” were the hearings under Senator McCarthy.

        To facilitate other usages of data-streams the data-streams require “interpretation” and a process of
        design/implementation/monitoring/testing of strategies and tactics based upon such “interpretation
        is required.

        Some are of the view that this can be achieved through methods/perceptions derived through “big data”.

        However the outcomes based on such methods/perception by the CIA, NSA, GOSPLAN, the STASI and others suggest that their reliance on such methods/perceptions requires resort to belief to bridge doubt to attain certainty/comfort thereby creating data-streams that others not so immersed can use to facilitate their purpose.

        So – Thank you for your data-stream which has various uses for various cultures in various petri-dishes.

      • Skip Scott
        January 21, 2019 at 08:57

        I am still in need of an interpreter.

  5. January 19, 2019 at 03:21

    1. Most recent election results only 1 district went red… Tx S of ElPaso… Tnx4 pointing out Blue complicity above. Ca politics were changed forever following Red immigrant bashing.

    2. Recent Don Littlehand policy has made our nation a kidnapper & w/ private detention a possible trafficer.

  6. SPENCER
    January 18, 2019 at 06:35

    Instead of spending Billions on an un necessary border wall— we should spend the money on MEDICARE FOR ALL which would prevent thousands of The American People that can`t afford health care from death–If you can`t pay–you die–

    • Samantha
      January 19, 2019 at 18:39

      If you don’t protect the borders, ‘medicare for all’ will include people not entitlted to it.

    • RudyM
      January 26, 2019 at 11:12

      A few billion dollars is not going to pay for Medicare For All. That doesn’t mean it can’t be paid for, but linking it to the wall is pointless. The dhimmi tax we send to the Jewish state could easily pay for the wall, however.

  7. Silly Me
    January 18, 2019 at 05:40

    Time to end birthright citizenship and feeding the monster of illegals with financial support. That will only add another thirty million to the number of the nation’s small-time crooks. Glad to pay for their air tickets home. What? US intervention destroyed their homes? Oh, blimey.

  8. Winston Warfield
    January 16, 2019 at 12:07

    Here’s an idea. How ’bout stopping the bi partisan US government support for wrecking countries like Honduras where Obama/Clinton backed a rightie coup, and now Trump doing the same to Venezuela. The resulting Mad Max collapse is what drives migrations. Not to mention Syria. I realize that’s too logical for the current degenerate political class.

    • Silly Me
      January 18, 2019 at 05:28

      Nope, they obey orders and these things happen on purpose.

      The wall is but a sizeable red herring.

  9. January 16, 2019 at 10:12

    Just happened to read the bio on Grandin. CN is fortunate, as in so many cases, to have such contributors. Fordlandia was a great book.

  10. January 16, 2019 at 08:37

    Obviously, discussion in good faith is impossible in this climate since bi-efforts have become an impossibility, where constructive efforts are replaced by partisan efforts to achieve partisan advantage.

    Do we have border problems with Mexico? Obviously, both parties agree that they exist, as documented by the article, but neither party is willing to offer anything where both parties can share the blame or credit.

    This debacle, now that the Russiagate putsch is losing steam, has become the new strategy to “get” Trump. Trump, meanwhile, creates a bullseye on his back by insisting on something that cannot be achieved without the cooperation of those who want him gone.

    The “solution” will be something that allows both sides to claim victory, while leaving a genuinely effective policy to someone else at some other time.

    What is the solution? None can be perfect but it begins with the proposition that all nations benefit from intelligent immigration policies, which are part of what sovereignty is, and the benefits of sovereignty and its protection is what is in need of pubic discussion. Our actions in the Middle East are examples of violations of the concept of sovereignty, claiming the right to violate it anytime we wish.

    An example of progressive, in the real sense of the word, proposals is that by the new President of Mexico who proposes development assistance where illegal immigrants are coming from to make it more attractive to stay at home and strengthen the moral justification for borders.

    • OlyaPola
      January 16, 2019 at 11:09

      “Do we have border problems with Mexico?”

      Mr. Rove was of the opinion that “We are an empire, we create our own reality to which others react, and while they are reacting we create another reality to which others respond” – this process facilitating the immersion of others in oscillating perception of we thereby diffusing/minimising challenge of/to we.

      “and the assays of the contents, forms, frequency and modes through which this facilitation of bridging doubt by belief to attain certainty operates, affords opportunity to others including but not restricted to the perceived “the other”.”

      Why a wall?

      Why the great wall of China, why the Berlin wall, why the Israeli wall and why a wall between the “United States of America” and Mexico?

      Partly as an ideological tool to facilitate/sustain the notion of we, whose potency appears to be lessening and oscillation increasing.

      What were among the ideological consequences of the great wall of China, the Berlin wall and the Israeli wall ? – the increasing focus of perception internally and increasing perception of those outside as being/posing an existential threat, there by increasing resort to and reliance upon walls including their expansion, maintainance and “protection” – in the Berlin wall’s case the increased activities of the gluttons (STASI) who wanted to eat all the sausages, not only those to be found in the vicinity of the wall.

      From inception it appears that the “United States of America” has been unUnited in their perception of we.

      • Skip Scott
        January 16, 2019 at 15:19

        I think the wall issue is “small potatoes”. It is another divisive issue, much like “identity politics” that seeks to keep the proles preoccupied, so they don’t start addressing things like income inequality, war and peace, climate change, college debt, energy independence, et al. Time the MSM spends on crap like “the wall” and “RussiaGate” is time they don’t have to spend pretending to cover substantive issues.

      • OlyaPola
        January 17, 2019 at 05:33

        “I think the wall issue is “small potatoes”.”

        Some ponder what appears to be and some ponder how to.

        Evaluation is always a function of purpose and consequently any valid evaluation of the practices of others requires some perception of others’ purpose perceived/evaluated by them.

        Failure to attain some perception of others’ purpose perceived/evaluated by them facilitates resort to belief to bridge doubt to attain certainty/comfort, rendering strategies hopes and tactics wishes.

        “From inception the “United States of America” has been a construct of fiat dependent upon the beliefs of others, including the beliefs of their (possessive case ) population, which oscillated/oscillates and changes assay through interaction”.

        “The assay of dependence on belief/ideology and its facilitation through attempts at bridging doubt by belief to attain certainty/comfort, and the assays of the contents, forms, frequency and modes through which this facilitation of bridging doubt by belief to attain certainty operates, affords opportunity to others including but not restricted to the perceived “the other”.”

        “”I think the wall issue is “small potatoes”.”

        The wall is part of an effort to:

        ” 1. Re-inforce notions of the other in order to re-in force notions of “us” – in the hope “We the people hold these truths to be self-evident”.

        2. Re-inforce notion of the other in order to continuing positing that all problems are caused by “not us”.

        3. Re-inforce notions that the other “hates our freedom” since “We are a beacon standing on a hill”.

        4. Re-inforce notions that the being, including well-being”, is dependent upon “us” – a construct with some substance.”

        but not the whole effort to facilitate reiteration of ideological immersion.

        “..that seeks to keep the proles preoccupied”

        That is part of the effort but not the whole of the effort which includes but is not limited to attempts to actively facilitate reiteration of ideological immersion of others not limited to notions explored in Guy de Bord’s investigations of spectacles.

        “they don’t start addressing things like income inequality, war and peace, climate change, college debt, energy independence, et al”

        They don’t do this since it would undermine a major ideological support – the notion of “we”.

        Fiats including notions of “strength” have been of significant importance from inception of the “United States of America” and vectors facilitating opportunities for others to transcend the “United Stares of America” with the accelerant of complicity by the “United States of America” as afforded/affords the continuing transcendence of the “Soviet Union” by the Russian Federation and a significant component of why the “United States of America” and others perceive the Russian Federation as an existential threat.

        This information is broadcast through this portal to share options to test hypotheses if so minded remembering to set aside ideological immersive practices such as “We the people hold these truths to be self-evident”.

      • Skip Scott
        January 17, 2019 at 08:09

        Wow. “If you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle ’em with bullshit”.

      • OlyaPola
        January 18, 2019 at 08:01

        Other trajectories facilitating “We the people hold these truths to be self-evident.”

        https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-fascist-politics-treat-children-as-disposable/

        Fiats including notions of “strength” have been of significant importance from
        inception of the “United States of America.

        From inception the “United States of America” has been a construct of fiat
        dependent upon the beliefs of others, including the beliefs of their (possessive
        case ) population, which oscillated/oscillates and changes assay through interaction.

        From inception of the “United States of America” most of “we the people” in the “United States of America” were and continue to be born disposable – this was always inherent in some assay in the social interactions and design within/of the temporary construct the “United States of America” obfuscated by notions of we.

        In Russia and elsewhere the gathering of mushrooms is a widely performed activity.

        If mushrooms require removal to turn the land to other usages, the presenting mushrooms
        require picking but also the spores in the soil require careful removal generally on more than one occasion over a period of time.

        The tendency in coercive social relations on matters of removal is to emulate the Roman practice of salting the fields of opponents, a perceived quick fix, the biosphere being perceived as requiring domination – this was in some measure the practice in the “Soviet Union” – but salt is dissipated over time but often the memory of salting does not dissipate to the same degree or at the same velocity.

        Despite the efforts of many including Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Gorbachev as a function of inherent design the “Soviet Union” could not be reformed.

        It appears that as a function of inherent design the “United States of America” also cannot be reformed despite the wishes and efforts of some.

        Therefore it appears that the “United States of America” requires to be transcended not through emulating a salting of fields, but through a lateral process to turn the land to other usages in cooperation with others.

      • Mike M
        January 21, 2019 at 17:47

        According to current data publicized by media, don’t know if I trust them though, the latest stats indicate there are more people are leaving the US at the border than coming in to the country. Pls explain to me where is the crisis of invasion of hordes given those stats by this administration.

  11. OlyaPola
    January 16, 2019 at 06:25

    “The point was less to actually build “the wall” than to constantly announce the building of the wall.”

    Not the only point but a significant point in the effort to:

    1. Re-inforce notions of the other in order to re-in force notions of “us” – in the hope “We the people hold these truths to be self-evident”.

    2. Re-inforce notion of the other in order to continuing positing that all problems are caused by “not us”.

    3. Re-inforce notions that the other “hates our freedom” since “We are a beacon standing on a hill”.

    4. Re-inforce notions that the being, including well-being”, is dependent upon “us” – a construct with some substance.

    From inception the “United States of America” has been a construct of fiat dependent upon the beliefs of others, including the beliefs of their (possessive case ) population, which oscillated/oscillates and changes assay through interaction.

    The assay of dependence on belief/ideology and its facilitation through attempts at bridging doubt by belief to attain certainty/comfort, and the assays of the contents, forms, frequency and modes through which this facilitation of bridging doubt by belief to attain certainty operates, affords opportunity to others including but not restricted to the perceived “the other”.

    Like Mr. Gulliver the “United States of America” was/is constrained by many threads not all of which are material.

  12. roger noehren
    January 16, 2019 at 05:19

    If the Mexican government were to hire Roger Waters to perform “The Wall” on the National Mall in DC, then Trumpty Dumpty would have fulfilled his campaign promise.

  13. Ron
    January 15, 2019 at 22:59

    Great, another article whining about the things we’ve done at the border, and yet again, offering NO solutions. People like Greg Grandin are boring us to death, we’ve heard it all before, maybe that’s their agenda. Long gone are the days when people would offer solutions to problems, and why should they? The internet brought en masse, an easy way out, by regurgitating the same old crap over and over, and over …. never having to deal with problems.

    Removing any and all incentives a person has, to illegally cross the border is the starting point, now we can discuss how. Just posting the same old diatribe doesn’t help, unless you are young, and need a short history lesson like this article does, to some degree, supply.

    We are the most generous nation in the entire world, Nn One allows more legal immigrants, No One provides as much aid to poor countries, the ones footing the bill, are tired of being taken advantage of.

    • John Wright
      January 16, 2019 at 16:02

      I suggest taking a vacation to Honduras to witness the fruits of U.S. “generosity” at its best. If you survive that, then hop over to El Salvador and Guatemala, for further examples.

      You may want to pack your Kevlar travel clothes and don’t forget to send us postcards.

      The fact is that the agriculture, food-processing and construction industries depend on undocumented workers to keep their profit margins as fat as possible; and the pressure these workers put on the labor market to keep all wages low.

      Finally, decades of U.S. interference in almost every country in the Western Hemisphere has made life nearly impossible in many of these countries, particularly the three I noted above.

      I’ll be happy to drive you to the airport…no charge.

    • Lou
      January 17, 2019 at 08:05

      Perhaps you can provide us with a good example of how generous our nation is to Central America by going over there for the next 10 years, then report back to us what we have missed or didn’t understand in your comment.

  14. KiwiAntz
    January 15, 2019 at 22:46

    Trump will never get his Wall, for the same reasons that America will never get Universal Healthcare, affordable Pharmaceutical medicines or a Military that gives value for money? What would cost other Countries a couple of hundred million to build a Wall, America would have to spend a trillion dollars to build the same thing? America has the most wasteful bureaucracy on Earth & is run by greedy scoundrels ripping off their own Citizens for massive price gouging & profiteering & they have the barefaced cheek to rubbish socialism in comparison to their disaster Capitalism! No better contrast is that of it’s bloated Military & it’s obscene, yearly budget that squanders $700 billion a year on obsolete weapons & hi tech turkeys like the F35, whilst Russia with a total spend of just $40 billion produces far superior weaponry such as hypersonic missiles which the US Military has no power to stop, built for a fraction of the cost of America’s garbage weapons! A recent Zerohedge article stated America’s Health Insurance schemes netted ‘$3.5 trillion for its Insurance Company’s while giving its people the most expensive Healthcare coverage & the worst outcomes in the developed, civilised World! The Medicines are 100 times more expensive than other Countries despite the fact that most of the Medicines are manufactured in America! American’s have to go to Canada for cheaper Medicines! Instead of invading other Countries & meddling in other Nations affairs the US needs to get its own fiscal house in order! Build that Wall? Fat chance of that, unless you want to bankrupt the Nation?

    • Antonio Costa
      January 16, 2019 at 03:08

      China has 1.25 times Purchasing Power Parity today as US, 1.50 by 2023 and expected twice the PPP than the US in a decade. They would bury the US in an arms race.

      The US cannot do anything because it runs on profit over people. And until there’s a collapse that will continue to be the sad story.

    • Bob Patterson
      January 17, 2019 at 19:14

      Thank you KiwiAntz, for putting in one paragraph a most truthful description of the way this madhouse works. Your intelligent comment and those of others on Consortium news keeps me coming back here for the wisdom of enlightened individuals who see things as they really are and share their thoughts with us all. Thanks again.

  15. Joe Tedesky
    January 15, 2019 at 20:31

    These walls are nothing more than politicians doing their CYA in order to make us believe they are doing something to protect us.

    https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/borders-and-walls-do-barriers-deter-unauthorized-migration

  16. Tom Kath
    January 15, 2019 at 19:33

    Mother should I build a wall?
    An old controversy which never states clearly whether the aim is to keep people OUT or IN.

    • michael
      January 16, 2019 at 09:37

      “Good fences make good neighbours.”

  17. January 15, 2019 at 18:03
    • Ron
      January 15, 2019 at 23:16

      Great article, I especially like the header pic, where it states, the we need to rid the country of whiners. But then, as you know, this whole site is a collection of leftist, and globalist writers, whining about something. The key word here is hypocrite.

      • January 16, 2019 at 19:26

        Whiners remind me a book that compiled more funny tidbits about history excerpted from students’ exams and term papers in colleges in USA and Canada. One that I remember best was “Greeks also had a Goddess of Whine, Diane Isis.” I guess that discrimination against whiners would be directed at the followers of Diane Isis, so it would go against separation of Church and State etc.

      • January 16, 2019 at 19:29

        Discrimination against the followers of Bacchus and Dionysus did not turn well. Do not repeat such mistakes.

      • Lou
        January 17, 2019 at 13:09

        Ron, sounds like you’re whining about leftist and globalist writers. I myself like this website along with many others like unz.com etc.. I’ve learned not to trust what loyal Democrats and Republicans have to say, at least not completely. I hear and listen. I try to research and read as much as possible, knowing I will never arrive at the whole truth, even facts will be hidden or twisted in some form or fashion. It’s been that way since humans have roamed this great Earth. Perhaps the word hypocrite was invented to describe a common behavior among the leaders human history has had to endure.

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