By Ross Cameron
I spoke to a close friend recently who said he could not take Donald Trump seriously because of his “crazy” policy ideas, citing first, Trump’s plan to “build a wall that Mexico will fund”. So I figured, might as well go straight to the guts of the matter, and tell you why Trump is right to build a wall and why he’s the only candidate who ‘gets it’.
The leading scholar of the history of violence is American psychologist, Steve Pinker who says the rate of violent death has fallen over the past 400 years, in part because of growing respect for “national sovereignty”. At the heart of the idea of sovereignty, is the right and duty of nations to control access to borders. As America’s first diplomat, Ben Franklin, advised, “Love your neighbour yet don’t pull down your hedge”. A father can’t be made to answer for the welfare of his family, if he cannot control who walks through the door of the house.
The fastest way to destroy a nation’s unique quality, is to lose border control. We are witnessing this in Europe, as a heaving mass of millions, tramples down fences while rushing for Deutche mark at the foot of Angela’s rainbow. The death toll of migrant boat passage is remarkably similar, whether in the Timor Sea or the Mediterranean – one in 50 end their journey as a bloated corpse.
With a southern “border” present on maps but not in reality, the United States of America can more accurately be described as a northern province of Mexico. The question is not one of racism, fear, privilege or “sanctuary”, but old-fashioned competence. If the political class is incapable of regulating the crossing of a border, it is not competent to lead. Even if the West bears a share of guilt for displacement in countries of origin, “destroy your border control” is not the answer to any question worth asking.
Trump’s wall is a practical step to regulate human movement but its greater role is to provide the AWOL symbol of American resolve. The attraction of an LA lifestyle, (Real Housewives, Crown Princes, Baywatch, 90210, Melrose etc,) to a young male in poverty, cannot be overstated. The carnage from migrant passage across the Mediterranean is one drowning per 50 passengers. That is a risk the Middle Eastern and African cargo is entirely happy to take. I suspect they would continue to take that risk at one drowning in 25, perhaps one in 10. You will not stop the boats by accident.
I presume to offer an opinion to an American audience, because you guys started it here and because Australia is the only country to secure its borders, after losing them, in the past decade (in fact we’ve done it twice). Australians lucked out as the only people to occupy an entire continent so we have no land borders to patrol. We have, however, faced a swelling armada of small crowded boats, purchased as disposable widgets, to carry an equally disposable human cargo, in a thriving criminal conspiracy, which grew over five years of progressive idiocy, to move 50,000 unauthorized arrivals, across the Timor Sea, en route to terra australis.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced in 2012 that if elected, his government would “stop the boats”. The stark “three word slogan” was attacked by the New York Times, the United Nations, the Indonesian Government, the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Greens, the head of the Department of Immigration and a chorus NGO’s in the “compassion industry” that grew up around “asylum seekers”.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard told Australians that “Mr Abbott is lying to you – he cannot stop the boats”. Ms Gillard’s mantra was that arrivals result from “push factors” in countries of origin and changing policy would not stop the boats. Gillard’s Immigration Minister decried “This policy is damaging Australia’s relationship with Indonesia”. Labor stumbled from one incoherent “regional solution” to the next. The boats kept coming.
The UN Human Rights Agency lodged a protest. The Australian Greens launched a legal challenge. Meanwhile, the drowning continued and Australia’s fastest growing industry was building migration detention centres, which filled as fast as they could be built. The build up of human inventory was so great, the people smugglers went into business murdering their clients and harvesting their organs.
Abbott did not flinch. He understood that the audience he had to convince was not the “love media” but a group of Javanese criminal, who needed to get the message that he was serious. On election, Abbott adopted a suite of measures, some novel, some harsh, some opportunistic. All designed to send the same, clear, message, echoing his mentor John Howard – “We will decide who comes to Australia and the manner in which they come”.
Abbott outsourced migration enforcement to the Australian navy and commenced “boat turn-backs” at sea “when safe to do so”. When the junk captains began deliberately scuttling boats, the Department purchased a fleet of small, seaworthy skiffs, into which the rescued cargo was loaded and returned to its port of origin. While the Labor Government had issued daily press on all matters “asylum”, Abbott reclassified actions at sea as “operational” and subject to secrecy, denying the media, and the people smugglers, the oxygen of information.
Tony Abbott saved Australia. When it became clear to those seeking a migration result, that they would not be granted citizenship in Australia, the boats stopped. Just like that, in the twinkling of an eye. The drowning stopped. The “border” became real again, and the natural generosity of the Australian people was allowed to resurface, once we felt our leaders were doing their job, not excusing their own failure.
The most common lost shot in golf is the short putt. Sometimes you will see an amateur leave two or even three putts short of the hole. The problem with leaving the ball short is that you never gave yourself a chance of sinking the putt. You must begin with a plan to shoot beyond the hole to have any hope of success.
This is the Trump approach. Whether on the Pause, the Wall, ISIL, Trump is providing the missing piece in the policy puzzle – resolve.