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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Five months ago, an engineer and writer under the pen name Ali F. Rhuzkan wrote a rebuttal to Donald Trump’s breezy view of surgically separating the United States and Mexico via a 2,000-mile-long super wall. Ali pointed out that Trump’s wall would require three times as much concrete as the Hoover Dam, 5 billion pounds of steel, and a logistical effort to ship materials and coordinate laborers that would make Qin Shi Huangdi blush.

Trump later amended his ridiculous proposal to 1,000 miles, accounting for “natural barriers.”

On Tuesday, in an interview with MSNBC, Trump estimated the wall project at $8 billion, a figure that the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler wrote yesterday was just about the farthest thing from realistic:

We can also look at the Israel’s experience with building a separation barrier between Israeli-held areas and Palestinian-held areas. For the first 525 kilometers (326 miles), the cost was $2.6 billion. A simple calculation of expanding that to 1,000 miles yields a calculation of $7.99 billion, suspiciously similar to Trump’s estimate.

But only one-tenth (33 miles) of the Israeli barrier is an eight-meter (25-foot) concrete wall. The other 90 percent is a two-meter (six-foot) high electronic fence. Trump says he wants a 1,000-mile long concrete wall.

Assuming the cost of the fence was equivalent to the U.S. fence ($3 million a mile), that suggests about $1 billion of the cost was for the fence; the other $1.4 billion was for 33 miles of the wall (which was built in mostly metropolitan areas). Believe it or not, that translates to $42 billion for 1,000 miles of a 25-foot wall. (Recall that Trump wants a 35-to-40-foot wall.)

There are many, many more reasons Trump’s wall won’t work — former Mexican President Felipe Calderon told CNBC recently that “Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall! And it’s going to be completely useless” — and Kessler’s article is worth reading in full.

So, again: Donald Trump is spewing nonsense, and it’s plain to anyone who takes a second to do the math.

Photo: Ali F. Rhuzkan’s sketch of a possible wall design.

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