Border wall would impact U.S. in ways we may not expect

By Kurt Vetters

Donald Trump may be onto something with this wall business. Most people think the issue is immigration. I can’t imagine that we are looking at this much expenditure solely to keep out workers from the sunny south.

My prediction is that Team Trump are followers of George Friedman’s 2009 book “The Next Hundred Years,” which says that in about 60 years the southwestern United States will have a greater loyalty to Mexico than the United States and will seek separation from the U.S. and integration into an ascendant Mexican Republic.

Friedman’s premises are that as the Latino population in that area grows in power, it will feel less and less enfranchised by Washington and begin facing south toward Mexico City, where it might be able to shift the Mexican base of power west toward Los Angeles and to itself.

I believe Trump thinks it will be in the long-term best interests of the Mexican ruling elite to not share that power with the newly muscled American Southwest, which could give Mexico City a run for its money as the new Mexican capital. Everyone stands to benefit if this border is solid.

There is a significant cost to this, and our generation must determine if it is worth it for our grandchildren. I used to be an Army captain, and part of our job was to maintain the border with the Soviet Bloc. No wall can be defended as a static barrier. Here is a concise breakdown by my friend and fellow Army officer Mike Thackston:

“The East German border was 866 miles long. It took roughly 50,000 border guards to secure it. If the U.S. were to build a wall with Mexico, it would be 1,989 miles long. Assuming we wanted to use it as an obstacle, we would need ‘eyes’ every one-fourth mile. It would take a three-man team every one-half mile. That’s about 7,458 officers on the border every day. To sustain that it takes five shifts (three on, one in training and backup, one off), so that’s about 37,293 officers. At the GAO budget planning figure of $120,000 for a civilian (they don’t get that — it’s a planning figure that includes different pay grades, benefits, and retirement). The officers alone would cost about $4.47B every year. That is just the personnel costs.”

Technology could play a big role in reducing that number. We patrol the Korean border with about 20,000 troops, and with a sizable European drawdown we could redeploy our armed services to patrol it as another option. I am sure Trump sees an option in letting our Allies patrol their own borders.

Other possible benefits could be seen in an organized transfer of people back and forth across the border, and both societies could benefit from it. Right now, the brain drain flowing into the U.S. from Mexico and Latin America significantly hurts their societies. I am sure they want to keep their best and brightest.

And as legalization of drugs over the next decades moves closer and closer to reality, perhaps the drug cartels that funnel that poison into the U.S. will have their power reduced if it becomes controlled and viewed as the health issue it is in so many cases.

One last note: A good friend of mine lives in San Antonio and is of Hispanic descent. His father is part of the border force. They see every day the chaos that can reign south of the border, and they are all for ensuring that does not cross into the U.S.

If Mr. Friedman’s views are to be believed, what we do now could affect future generations dramatically.

Kurt Vetters, a longtime resident of Greenfield, is a U.S. Army veteran, author and local businessman. He can be reached at