Thursday, November 22, 2018

Troops stringing wire reflects Trump's political stuntsmanship

Nicholaikirche, Leipzig, where
Bach served as music director

In 1980, the Scribers attended the meeting of the International Congress of Psychology in Leipzig (then), East Germany. The meeting marked the centennial of the founding of the first laboratory of experimental psychology by Wilhelm Wundt. It was a fine cultural experience; how can you top getting a private concert in the Nikolaikirche which dates to the 1100s and at which J. S. Bach was music director. It was also depressing. We spent a week in an Iron Curtain country. At our departure point, we crossed a ditch lined with concrete and filled with concertina wire. It stretched as far as we could see.

I trouble you with this piece of personal history because I realized that the fortification was not to keep Westerners out; it was to keep the Easterners in.

Stringing Concertina wire
Troops string concertina wire:
Keeping 'them' out or us in?

So it is with all fences. So it is with the deployment of 5,200 combat soldiers to fortify our own border with Mexico by stringing concertina wire. Trump’s border wall is intended to keep the “them” out. But it could be repurposed in an instant by a tyrant to keep us in thus denying us our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

The Tucson Sentinel reports on the troops, the wire, and what this is really about in Experts urge troop withdrawal; DHS repeats need to ‘harden’ border. Excerpts follow.

National security experts and former military officials called on the administration to bring active-duty troops home from the border for Thanksgiving and end what they called a “needless” and politically motivated deployment.

“Exactly as predicted, this deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to our southern border has turned out to be nothing more than what I would call a political stunt,” said Ned Price, director of policy and communications at National Security Action and a former special assistant to President Barack Obama.

The call to withdraw troops came as the Department of Homeland Security reiterated what it called the need to “harden” ports of entry against an exodus of Central American immigrants now headed to the border, a number DHS officials said could now be as high as 10,500 people.

But on a conference call hosted Monday by immigration reform group America’s Voice, advocates and experts said the threats posed by a caravan of Central American migrants had been ginned up for political purposes.

“It’s estimated this deployment could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, while also separating our service members from their families during the holiday period for absolutely no valid reason. But the costs to America’s reputation are just as high,” Price said.

Retired Maj. Gen. Peter S. Cook called the deployment “extremely unwise” and an unnecessary burden on soldiers that “does affect our national security significantly for many reasons.”

“Somebody needs to speak out for their overall welfare,” Cook said. “It goes against every decision-making process and matrix that we’ve been taught in the military.”

Price said he hopes troops sent to the border will not be forgotten as they spend Thanksgiving away from home.

“The caravan was the stuff of headlines for weeks prior to the election when President Trump and his allies in Congress were talking about it,” Price said. “Now that they are virtually silent on it, I certainly hope that the plights and the hardships that have been required by the administration of our men and women in uniform will be covered with equal intensity.”

Best wishes to those 5,200 troops and our hopes for a speedy return to their homes and families.

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