As President Trump announced the possibility of the military both funding the southern border wall and protecting the border as said wall is built, I’m reminded of all of the failed walls we’ve seen throughout our history.

Leading up to World War II, the French built the famed Maginot Line, an attempt to deter German aggression. As our history books tell us, the line failed, leading to a four-year occupation of France by the Germans. Following the war, as the Iron Curtin began to close around Eastern Europe, East Germany constructed the infamous Berlin Wall. That wall, which is now memorialized in pieces across the globe, was a failed experiment at keeping democracy and freedom at bay.

What these examples make clear is that walls don’t work. As I told the team at MSNBC’s Morning Joe, we need to be thinking more about building bridges as solutions to our global problems.

Beyond the ideological and budget shenanigans, building a wall in the way the President has so often described it — as a singular structure stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico — would be a mistake on several practical accounts, as I explained in my recent column for Bloomberg.

Let’s start with costs. Naturally, estimates vary, but reports from about a year ago pegged the price at somewhere between $30 billion and $70 billion, with annual maintenance costs up to $200 million. In the end, American taxpayers will likely foot the bill.

Second, it is a terrible idea in terms of our relationships with our neighbors to the south. Whether we like it or not, there are strong perceptions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean that the U.S. has been at times an arrogant, irresponsible partner throughout much of our shared history.

A third reason is that the wall is not likely to have a great deal of practical effect. Here is a news flash: On the immediate left side of that wall is an ocean. If people want to get to the U.S. badly enough, they will sail here in a boat. Or tunnel under the wall. Others will smuggle people and goods through legal crossing points.

Additionally, the idea that the U.S. military should be doing the job of border patrol agents has been poorly thought out. As I told The New York Times, there is a significant opportunity cost: Troops sent to the border would miss important training opportunities for their real primary mission — combat.

In the end, I think the wall is just another example of the President’s frustration with the lack of funding, as well as an attempt to appeal to his political base. You can hear more of my thoughts on NPR’s Morning Edition:

The famed 20th-century columnist H.L. Mencken is credited with saying, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” The wall is exactly that.

As always, thanks for reading.

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