About That Wall….


Reuters reports on the progress of Donald Trump’s Mexican wall:

Just a day after Trump’s stunning election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, congressional aides told Reuters the lawmakers wanted to meet with Trump’s advisers to discuss a less costly option to his “big, beautiful, powerful wall.”

The plan would involve more border fencing and additional border staffing with federal agents….A House Republican aide and a Department of Homeland Security official said a wall was not realistic because it would block visibility for border agents and cut through rugged terrain, as well as bodies of water and private land.

So Congress doesn’t want it because it would cost too much, and DHS doesn’t want it because agents prefer being able to see the other side. And Mexico, of course, continues to laugh at the idea that they will pay for it. Then there’s this comparison to the concrete wall Israel has built along the border with the West Bank:

Its main goal is to stop terrorists from detonating themselves in restaurants and cafes and buses in the cities and towns of central Israel….The rules of engagement were written accordingly. If someone trying to cross the fence in the middle of the night is presumed to be a terrorist, there’s no need to hesitate before shooting. To kill.

In other words, a wall can be effective. But it’s expensive to build, and it needs lots of expensive guard towers staffed by lots of expensive and ruthless guards or else it probably won’t work very well. I’m not sure the American public is up for that.

UPDATE: Via email, reader SB adds this:

It’s worth noting in this context that the Israeli army doesn’t like the wall at all, and wherever they can they build a fence instead—not because it’s cheaper, but because the fence is more effective (it offers defense-in-depth as well as the ability to see through it). They only build concrete walls through urban areas where they can’t get the space for a fence (which requires 50 meters), or when a court forces them to (because local residents have sued to retain access to their land). So even in the West Bank walls don’t work as well as fences.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.