Donald Trump’s proposed wall between Mexico and the United States has been widely ridiculed as at best bonkers and at worst further evidence of a racist and isolationist world view.
But could it have benefits?
The current border between the two countries is almost non-existent and, according to an excellent programme on Radio 4 this week (La Frontera), what was once a trickle of economic migrants, largely tolerated by local farmers, has become a tide of drug-dealing and organised crime moving between the two countries and creating havoc and destruction in its wake.
Most of the great walls of history (The Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall, for example) were built not to keep people out, but to delineate frontiers, regulate the movement of people between territories and provide a measure of security in often lawless areas. The Berlin Wall, on the other hand, was built to keep people in and somehow managed to become both a symbol of repression and a symbol of liberty.
Whether Trump’s wall will be more Berlin than Hadrian is yet to be seen. But it might be worth bearing in mind that both The Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall are world heritage sites that bring in serious amounts of tourist revenue. Americans may have many shortcomings, but missing great business opportunities isn’t one of them – and they’re even going to get the Mexicans to pay for the thing to be built in the first place (yeah, right – good luck with that one, guys).
So, who knows, La Gran Muralla de la Frontera, may turn out to be not such a barmy idea after all.
References and links
Great Wall of China : Picture credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
La Frontera (Radio 4, first broadcast Monday 13th January 2017, normally available online for a month after broadcast)