It is sad to witness the spectacle of initiatives by President Trump concerning issues of great moment and fraught with serious consequences being dismissed out of hand by his political adversaries without substantive debate and sober reflection.
It has gotten so prevalent that some have come up with a name for the phenomenon: Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Since the 2016 presidential elections, TDS has become the embodiment of “The Resistance” for Democratic officialdom and the general media. Anything that bears the Trump imprint is presumptively illegitimate.
Consider the examples of the receptions to President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria and his proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants:
Syrian Withdrawal: Predictably, President Trump’s abrupt announcement last week that he was ordering the prompt withdrawal of American forces from Syria – all of 2,000 troops deployed there to aid in the defeat of ISIS – triggered charges, primarily by leading Democrats, that he is not equipped to make these sort of decisions and that he either did not consult his advisers or didn’t heed their advice.
His critics did not merely say they disagreed with the decision or were concerned about its possible consequences, but rather that it was “off the wall” and an illegitimate policy choice by a misbegotten president.
The decision to withdraw, they said, utterly and mindlessly ignored the fact that remnants of ISIS, albeit degraded, remain in Syria and are a continuing threat to our interests in the region. They also said the Russians and Iranians will remain in force on the Golan Heights free to undermine Israel – an invaluable American military asset in the Middle East.
It wasn’t even mentioned, though, that President Trump also said he had negotiated agreements with Turkey and Saudi Arabia to step in with their own military and money to largely replace the American presence. Nor was there any discussion – no serious discussion anyway – of the merits of Trump’s policy decision. Should our troops be involved in conflicts in foreign countries for years on end? At what cost? Could others do what we’re doing?
To be sure, we are concerned that the Turks and Saudis will not have the same deterrent effect on the Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah vis-à-vis Israel as has the presence of U.S. military personnel. We also worry about Turkish President Erdogan’s frequent anti-Semitic rants and hatred of the Kurds, who have been loyal allies of the U.S. and Israel in the fight against ISIS. But Trump’s critics should debate these issues rather than mindlessly oppose the withdrawal simply because Trump proposed it.
The Border Wall: The symptoms of TDS were also exhibited by leading Democratic officials expressing their opposition to President Trump’s plan to build a border wall to reduce illegal immigration.
For example, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate Minority Leader, said on the Senate floor last Friday just hours before the partial government shutdown, “President Trump, you will not get your wall. Abandon your shutdown strategy. You’re not getting he wall today, next week or on January 3, when Democrats take control of the House.” The familiar phrase “Nothing personal, this is business” to justify seemingly harsh results comes to mind – but in reverse.
Of course, on another occasion, Mr. Schumer also noted that there were private lands in the proposed path of the wall which would get in the way of actually constructing one. He also said that in any event, as a device to prevent illegal immigration, a wall would be ineffectual and a waste of money.
But the Senator never noted that lawsuits in which the federal government is invoking its power of eminent domain – the power of the federal government to force a sale of private land to itself for public use at an independently determined fair price – are well underway. Indeed, they were commenced soon after the Trump administration took office.
Nor did Mr. Schumer address the fact that other countries have had wildly successful experiences with walls designed to control illegal immigration. Last week in an interview, David Rubin, the former mayor of Shiloh, a southern Israeli city, said that when Israel erected a high-tech wall on its southern border, illegal immigration was cut to zero.
He went on to explain that between 2010 and 2012, approximately 55,000 illegal immigrants entered Israel and settled in southern Tel Aviv. He said that serious crimes skyrocketed in those few years. However, he said, the Israeli government, under pressure from residents, determined to build a wall as a possible solution. Rubin added that the wall was completed in 2016 and only 11 illegal immigrants entered that year. And after they raised the height of the wall an additional several feet, in 2017, there was not one illegal immigrant that made it into Israel through its southern border.
According to the Daily Caller, comparable results were achieved in Hungary. Thus, following Hungary’s building in 2015 of a 100-mile wall along the Hungarian-Serbian border, where 95 percent of the illegal attempted and completed crossings into Hungary were occurring, there was a spectacular drop in such occurrences.
Hungary had 23,608 such crossings in 2013, 44,709 in 2014 and over 391,000 in 2015. Such crossings dropped to 18,236 in 2016 – a 95 percent drop in just one year. With the addition of another barrier in 2016, the number dropped to 1,184 in 2017.
One caveat: It is hard to know how much of the drops are attributable to the walls or to a decrease in the number migrants seeking illegal entry. But at all events it would appear that President Trump’s wall is a good investment and should be seriously debated. It certainly should not be dismissed as a personal frolic.