Monday, May 7, 2007

Around Globe, Walls Spring Up To Divide Neighbors

Around Globe, Walls Spring Up To Divide Neighbors By Bernd Debusmann

What do Tijuana, Baghdad and Jerusalem have in common? They all have walls that divide neighbors, cause controversy and form part of an array of physical barriers around the world that dwarf the late, unlamented Iron Curtain. There are walls, fences, trenches and berms. Some are reinforced by motion detectors, heat-sensing cameras, X-ray systems, night-vision equipment, helicopters, drones and blimps. Some are still under construction, some in the planning stage.

When completed, the barriers will run thousands of miles, in places as far apart as Mexico and India, Afghanistan and Spain, Morocco and Thailand, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. They are meant to keep job-hungry immigrants, terrorists and smugglers out, thwart invaders, and keep antagonists apart. Their proponents cite the proverb “Good fences make good neighbors” but critics say they are a paradoxical result of globalization in so far as goods and capital can move freely but migrants cannot. By an irony of history, the United States — the country that hastened the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 — has emerged as a champion wall builder.

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