The World Is Full of Walls That Don’t Work

Why would Donald Trump want to build another one?

Politico Magazine | August 16, 2016

By Michael Dear

Across the world, building walls has become the political strategy favored by nations convinced that barriers are the only way to deal with difficult neighbors. In some regions, walls are used to claim territory; in others, they are used to separate warring factions; in yet others, they are meant to keep the unwanted out.

Donald Trump shares this view. The centerpiece of his presidential platform from the beginning has been building a wall between Mexico and the United States to stop illegal immigration, getting Mexico to pay for the concrete structure, and outlawing amnesty for immigrants already in the U.S. without documentation. (He presents this as a new initiative, without mentioning that the U.S. has just completed building 651 miles of fencing and walls along our southern border.)

But what Trump doesn’t understand—ironic, for someone so preoccupied with “winning”—is that building walls between nations is an utter failure of the geopolitical imagination. Walls are a blunt instrument of diplomacy. At best, they offer temporary respite from deeper tensions which usually remain unresolved by separation. At worst, walls can exacerbate the problems they were intended to solve. Put simply, walls do not work as permanent solutions to tough problems. Which is why, ultimately, they fall….

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