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Trump's wall isn't evil. It's medieval.

Dana Milbank on

Another member of my war cabinet, historian Craig Nakashian of Texas A&M University at Texarkana, proposed a skeleton crew of the type the Romans used defending Hadrian's Wall in the second century. But even that required some 15,000 people over 73 miles -- so Trump's border wall, by extrapolation, would still require more than 400,000 defenders. Siege warfare is labor-intensive. "You do kind of need people," Nakashian explained.

Whether 400,000 or 10 million, the wall's defenders are all going to need chain armor. And many must be trained in the most fearsome weapon of medieval times: the trebuchet. This monster, 100 feet tall and thousands of pounds, can hurl huge projectiles 1,000 feet.

Cancel the F-35 contract. Lockheed Martin is going to have to build these suckers by the thousands. On the positive side, my experts said it will not be necessary to stock the moats with alligators (this was a Hollywood invention) nor to hurl diseased animal carcasses at the migrants (ineffective).

This is all going to cost well more than the $5.7 billion Trump has requested for the wall and requires mass conscription of civilians. But if we don't win the medieval arms race, we risk a bloody repeat of the Sassanian Siege of Amida in 359, when Romans holding the city were overrun and killed (much as Trump claims illegal immigrants are doing to Americans).

Of course, there is an easier way to protect our wall. We could use drones, ground-penetrating radar and that newfangled invention called "gunpowder." But this would defeat the very purpose of building a wall in the first place: the frivolous novelty of using a fifth-century solution to a 21st-century problem.

How else can we hope to recreate the esprit-de-corps that warriors of yore felt launching barrels of burning oil from their fortresses with a mighty battle cry?

"God help the Romans," cried the ancients.

"In the name of God and St. Demetrius," cried the Byzantines.

 

"Lord have mercy," cried the medievals.

And from the parapets of Trump's wall will come the sacred cry: Make America Great Again.

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Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

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