Wall project blocked by Congress: Trump’s fake ‘Emergency’ | Sunday Observer

Wall project blocked by Congress: Trump’s fake ‘Emergency’

The world will surely remember Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, not so much for his ‘art of the deal’ but for being the biggest faker of them all. Having just failed in his biggest negotiation with Congress for cash for his southern border wall project, the US president will now declare a ‘state of national emergency’ just to be able to siphon off defense funding for his wall.

On Friday, before signing into law the mini national budget Congress had passed to keep the government running, Trump declared his disappointment with the budget for failing to provide the US$ 6 billion plus he had been demanding for his wall. The budget has a meagre $ 1.4 billion allocation for short stretches of border security fences where they are needed, and excludes provision for any wall-type structure.

Trump’s threats

As he had previously threatened, the President now confirmed that he would shortly declare a ‘state of national emergency’ for America as a means of forcing through his election promise to build a concrete wall along the entire 3,145 kilometres (1,954 miles) of the US’ border with Mexico.

As he has boasted several times in recent months (on realising that Congress would not give him the money), the state of ‘Emergency’ would empower him to commandeer existing federal government funds allocated for other purposes, for use on the wall.

Even as America remains captivated by all this political deceit and conniving theft of public funds, the rest of the world is preoccupied with climate change disasters, an insurgent bombing that killed at least 40 Indian troops in troubled Kashmir, the humanitarian tragedy in war torn Yemen and the attempts by Western powers (led by Washington) to bully Iran and Venezuela. Meanwhile, again last week, Palestinian civilians were injured during their regular protests against seventy years of Israeli occupation and a near-starvation blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Powers of Congress

Constitutionally, it is the US Congress that controls the national budget and authorises the allocation of funds to meet costs of Federal government. The Congress comprises the Senate (upper chamber), still controlled by his own Republican Party, and the House of Representatives (lower chamber), in which the opposition Democratic Party is now in the majority since the significant electoral gains that party made in the Mid-Term general elections for both chambers, last November.

Even when Trump began boasting that he would build a border wall during his 2016 election campaign, experts dismissed the idea as merely an empty election promise, since over a century of management of what is one of the world’s longest and busiest international boundaries had shown that, rather than a continuous fixed wall, various types of border security arrangements and systems are needed to prevent illegal migration and smuggling. In the first place, with nearly a thousand kilometres of the border running, mid-channel, along the Rio Grande River, it is physically impossible to install a continuous wall.

Facts ignored

It had long been established that, depending on the geography and demography along the border, a mix of various monitoring systems and protective barriers are needed.

However, American popular opinion, inspired by the ancient ‘Great Wall’ built and maintained by Chinese emperors about two thousand years ago, was attracted by Trump’s boast.

His additional boast that he would force Mexico (which is blamed for illegal migration) to pay for its construction also stirred mass opinion not so much for its practicality or viability, but for the sheer audacity of it.

While a sizable chunk of public opinion took the Trumpian boast for what it was – an audacious, mischievous election gimmick – that promise drew the votes of the less educated cohort of White Americans who were economically depressed and, based on their biased ethnic perception, blamed illegal land migration across the Mexican border.

People did not realise that the Chinese Great Wall comparison was also a false argument. Two thousand years ago, the powerful Chinese empire could arbitrarily select its own geographically convenient ‘border’ through remote, mostly unpopulated outlying regions, for building the Great Wall. And the emperors could deploy forced labour – slaves, prisoners-of-war and bonded peasantry – to cheaply build the wall. The un-educated racism of Trump’s constituency blinded it to historical realities as well geographical practicalities.

A fake wall

The ‘border wall’, in that sense, was one of the greatest fake election stunts of all time. In moral terms, it is a cruel stunt - winning votes by playing on ignorance, racial biases and desperate hopes for a political ‘rescuer’, knowing all along that it is a lie, a hoax, a fake promise. The stunt worked and we have probably the worst US President in history.

And Trump’s capacities are such that, on the one hand, he lacks the sophistication to suavely sideline this false election promise and, on the other, he lacks the imagination to adopt new gimmicks for sustaining his popularity and campaign for a second presidential term. He can only think of using the same tired fake promise of a ‘border wall’ to retain his popularity.

It does not matter that Mexico will never pay the required billions of dollars for construction costs, It does not matter that such a wall is unviable for the task of preventing cross-border intrusions. Since most of the drugs as well as much of the illicit migration come through regular entry points and not through the hundreds of kilometres of desert and mountains, the wall is not a solution. As both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress know, Trump’s wall is a colossal waste of money.

Americans duped

Americans, however, are just beginning to realise – to their horror – that their elected Head of State is not just a lying buffoon, but he is a cruelly cynical, narcissistic and cheapo maverick who also just does not care that his ‘wall’ is a waste of public funds and labour.

It was his most impressive election stunt (never mind incitement to racism and misleading of millions of voters) which the world (his world) is still talking about. For him, it is a still-viable stunt to retain political legitimacy, especially to distract from his other, looming, more serious troubles of suspected election funding crimes, obstruction of justice and conspiracy with America’s biggest foreign enemy.

Unscrupulous

Clearly, Trump has been unscrupulous and desperate enough to cook up another, even more dangerous stunt – the fake ‘national emergency’ – and place his country on a ‘state of emergency’ in order that he could try to abuse his Emergency powers to grab public funds for his wall stunt.

He and his White House publicity machinery (as well as powerful media outlets supporting him) are now busy selling the line that there was a humanitarian and national security crisis on the southern border that required placing the country in a state of ‘National Emergency’, a status normally activated only when the country faces war or a major disaster.

Never mind that his own Director of National Intelligence, barely a fortnight ago, formally presented the national ‘threat assessment’ for 2019 to the Congress in which there is no mention of any ‘crisis’ or ‘threat’ on the southern border. According to America’s national intelligence and security establishment, therefore, the southern border is not a threat issue that deserves listing alongside the other ‘threats’ such as foreign nuclear threats, ‘terrorism’ and cyber warfare.

Readers will then ask, worriedly, how is it possible for a President to declare an ‘Emergency’ for a false threat and get away with it even without the professional backing of his own security agencies and military? The Trump presidency is clearly exposing, more than ever before, the loopholes in the US political system and the lack of safeguards to meet modern abuse of power.

When this power is that of the world’s sole superpower, wielding a nuclear and economic might that can devastate the whole Earth, then we must surely be worried!

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