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December 13, 2018

WALLS AND LEADERSHIP

Professor Kennedy in her blog today quotes Robert Frost’s celebrated poem in which he notes that “Good fences make good neighbors,” compares Frost’s reasoning behind it with Trump’s rationale for building “the wall,” and invited her followers and others to comment. Following, somewhat edited,  was mine.

WALLS AND LEADERSHIP

I have been acquainted with Frost’s offering for lo these many years, but note that his fence is not Trump’s wall. What you wall out you wall in like, for instance, our beacon of democracy and our isolation from the global scene. We are already withdrawing from the world stage, and political science like natural science abhors a vacuum. (Enter Stage Left to fill the void > China and Russia.)

We have already signalled our withdrawal from world affairs with our withdrawal from TPP, the Iran atomic agreement, the Paris Accord and other conventions and protocols. The wall would be the first tangible withdrawal from the global scene just at the wrong time as transportation and digital means have made the globe smaller and more interdependent than ever, a process we should be leading rather than leaving.

I am opposed to “the wall” not only because it won’t work and is a waste of resources (especially with a first-ever trillion dollar current account budget deficit facing us per CBO) but also because of the negative signals it sends to the rest of the watching world and the positive signals it sends to America-Firsters, who wrongly fancy that we can somehow leave the world to its own and prosper in our own little cocoon. Shades of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Act where tariff isolation as policy was brought to solve the worsening Great Depression but instead made it worse – far worse!

What to do? Get a new president as soon as possible and come crawling back to NATO, reinstate our ties with our allies in the Iran treaty, the Paris Accord etc. and, if we are not totally persona non grata, reassume world leadership. We have enormous damage to repair as a result of current mob rule and rampant nepotism in the Oval Office, and the trick will be to survive until we can guide our country back to some sort of a moral, economic and political reality, and such a movement is looking better, thanks to the efforts of Mueller and the SDNY, so let’s persevere.

Meanwhile, no wall! Not a penny because, among other good reasons, if we cave in to Trump’s demands that either he gets his wall or he will shut the government down, he will use that or similar draconian threats in the future to get his way issue by issue until a point where there theoretically are no more issues up for decision and Herr Trump will have garnered all authority, an undesirable outcome totally at odds with the most sacred asset we hold in common and one about which I often write, our democracy, one of the last few things left worth dying for.     GERALD        E

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