Build a wall

“Build a wall against invaders.” They said. So, for hundreds of years Chinese laborers built the Great Wall of China. Still, invaders entered China by marching around the end of the wall. Today the Great Wall of China attracts many tourists.
“Build a wall so no one can leave,” they said. So, they built the Berlin Wall after World War II and isolated the Eastern Berliners from the West Berliners. Still thousands of East Berliners found ways to escape. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan demanded, “take down this wall.” In 1989 the wall came down and the world rejoiced. Today, you can buy pieces of the wall to remember that bygone era.
“Build a wall to discourage another great war.” So, France built the Maginot Line of bunkers against another German invasion. It cost millions. The German blitzkriegs negated the purpose of the Maginot Line. The Germans invaded France and stayed until the D-Day invasion turned the tide of the war.
Walls of defense does not work when warfare takes to the air. Still, across the world in the last couple decades, about a third of all nations have built walls for one reason or another. Some walls were built in response to conflict, others to keep out migrants, terrorists or illegal drugs and weapons.
The fall of the Berlin Wall did not end the building of walls. “When the Berlin Wall was torn down a quarter-century ago, there were 16 border fences around the world. Today, there are 65 walls either completed or under construction,” according to Quebec University expert Elisabeth Vallet.
The list of walls built in modern times, found in, includes the following:
In 1953 the Korean conflict ended with both sides building walls.
In 1960’s a barrier went up between China and Hong Kong to discourage illegal immigration.
In the 1970s walls to discourage illegal immigration and terrorism went up in Egypt and South Africa.
In the 1990s conflict zones and immigration concerns resulted in walls in Kuwait, Spain and Uzbekistan.
Walls reflect the world’s politically troubled climate. Barriers against terrorism and illegal immigrants rose up in Spain, Uzbekistan, Saudi-Arabia, Yemen, India and the South East Pacific island country of Brunei.
In the last three years, 19 more walls have been proposed or begun – primarily in the mid-east and southern Asia plus the proposed addition to the wall between the United States and Mexico.
Walls work. They keep out the poorest and weakest. Wall create a real and symbolic barrier against terrorism and the surge of illegal immigrants. They create a firm line between opposing factions.
Walls fail. Consider how many thousands bridged the fiercely protected Berlin Wall. Rich drug cartels and terrorists repeatedly find ways around physical walls such as using other ports of entry.
Walls create a psychological barrier as observed by Marcello Di Cintio, author of ‘Walls: Travels Along the Barricades’, “’You can’t dismiss that illusion, it’s important to people, but they provide the sense of security, not real security.’” Di Cintio reported that within months of India erecting a barbed-wire fence, the former neighbors, the cut-off Bangladeshi, reported distrust and dislike of folks on the other side of the fence.
Many Americans clamor for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. We have been there and done that in the 1990s in the San Diego area in response to illegal immigration. The Congressional Research Service found that the wall made negligible difference. The best solution followed an increase of border personnel.
We can learn from history, or we can build a wall and see history repeat itself all over again.