That’s about what it would cost to get enough barbed wire to encircle ISIS.
At least that’s what I got when I attempted to do the math. ISIS covers swaths of territory about 35 miles wide, or less. That would be 35 miles in one direction and 35 miles back, plus some for width, so it is about 70 miles which is 369,600,000 feet. Amazon.com has barbed wire at $120 for 1,320 feet. So, we could fence in ISIS for about $33,600,000.00.
We’re spending about $8 million per day to bomb, so double the $33 million and round up to, say, $80 million (10 days of bombing). That does not seem too costly for peace of mind and to save taxpayer dollars in the long run.
The leader of Russia was trained by the world’s most recently experienced organization at building and patrolling walls around vast territory. He might be a great one for this project! Right here at home, I am sure that our own SeaBees can provide a more precise estimate for doing the whole job of fencing in ISIS and providing a turn-key operation to the drone operators and communication specialists who will be coordinating our efforts with local fighting forces.
The point is, ISIS controls about 35 miles of desert, natural resources and people.
The natural resources are sold to fund ISIS operations, which means products need to be transported, probably outside its territory. This could be controlled with a fence.
ISIS keeps people in line the way the best governments do, by providing the services they need in a way that they want. That is not to say that ISIS is composed of caring people who value the things we think are important, like toleration of differing points of view, robust debate, freedom of religion, and multiple layers of due process before beheading someone. They seem to prefer ruling through fear instilled by intimidation. But, like Mussolini who made the trains run on time, they know how to please enough people enough of the time to make their organization function and to grow their army.
ISIS is also growing through online recruitment. Young people from the United States and Europe are trying to join a successful fighting force that puts on a good PR front.
We don’t want our boys and girls turned into fanatic martyrs to return to our country unannounced. We will need to provide adequate due process to make sure we know who they are, where they have been and where they are going, and whether they committed any crimes against us while they were away. If we fence in ISIS, then we could position the necessary detention centers and hearing rooms at checkpoints along the fence.
I suspect there is little passport control now. That must change. The global community needs to know that the border around ISIS is secure. A fence will help.
You might wonder where I got this idea. Actually, it is a lesson learned from George W’s unconstitutional war in Iraq. He did not put fencing around important places in Baghdad, like the treasury and the museum, and they were looted. Fencing works both ways. With regard to ISIS, it can keep people out who want to join and it can keep people in who are already committed to doing things the barbarian ISIS-way.
A line like the Maginot Line or the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall would not work as well as barbed wire and razor wire with guard towers that could be moved inward as we, optimistically, push ISIS into smaller-and-smaller areas.
Ideally, the fencing and passport control operations would be carried out by U.N. Peacekeeping forces, so the question need not yet arise about whether Congress must declare war before the president dons his Commander in Chief uniform to command the troops into hostilities.
By the way, the answer is yes, the Congress does have to vote for war before we enter a war. It takes courage to be a successful politician, or knowledge that the constituents who vote in less 50 days will approve. See, “Restoring the Congressional Duty to Declare War,” Blumrosen and Blumrosen, Rutgers Law Review, 2011, www.warpower.us.
Between the time this opinion piece was written and published, the U. S. Congress – both houses – met and voted to support President Obama’s plan, without declaring all-out war. Now that the United States will be more deeply involved, a fence is just as important as before – very important.
We analyzed the war powers clause, Art. I, Sect. 8, Cl. 11 of the Constitution, including the records of June 1, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention and early Supreme Court cases concerning limited warfare during the quasi-war with France. Our conclusion: Congress must declare war before we enter a war.
Congress may not, as it has done with AUMFs since WWII, authorize the president to use his or her discretion about whether to take the nation to war. While the president gets a lot of leeway in foreign affairs, and must obtain the advice and consent of the Senate for some things, when it comes to making the decision about entering a war, both houses of Congress must agree.