Naveed Jamali is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the author of “How To Catch A Russian Spy.” He can be followed on Twitter at @CatchaRUSSpy. Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist and commentator, is President of Somm Consulting. He can be followed on Twitter at @evansiegfried.
Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels were a stark reminder that terrorism is a major issue confronting the US and the global community.
The terror group ISIS is bringing their fight to the heart of the Western world. As a result of this attack, as well as last year’s attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has proposed an anti-terror plan (to the extent that it can be called a plan) that not only would endanger America, but betray our core values.
The Trump terror plan is literally as follows: Bar all Muslims from entering the US, bomb the families of ISIS members, use increased torture methods to interrogate detainees, take the oil from ISIS (and give it to the veterans), and “bomb the shit out of them.” And this only came months after Trump said that ISIS wasn’t a real threat and that we should outsource the fight to Russia.
This “plan” shows how woefully unprepared Trump is to handle the threat of terrorism and ISIS. Further evidence of Trump’s inadequacy and lack of understanding of the very real issue of terrorism is his meeting with The Washington Post’s editorial board yesterday. In response to a detailed question about how he would handle ISIS, Trump said, “I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I am talking to?” It was part of a familiar pattern with Trump: when asked for substance and detail, Trump pivots to superficial ramblings.
So far, our safeguards have stopped several wannabe ISIS members from doing harm in the US. However, the reason they were successful is due to international cooperation between the US and its allies. Take for example the case of Tairod Pugh, an American citizen and former member of the US Air Force who attempted to join ISIS. Pugh was stopped because Egyptian and Turkish authorities informed the US that he was attempting to cross into Syria. To implement a plan that would ban all Muslims from entering the US would drive a wedge between the US and many of its Muslim allies, including Turkey and Egypt. Cooperation would most likely be stifled and lead to further resentment toward the US.
Trump’s “plan” does nothing to address the very real threat of American citizens being radicalized. One of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Farook, was a US citizen. A Muslim travel ban would not have prevented him from carrying out his act of terror. Nor would it have prevented Tairod Pugh from returning to the US had he not been flagged for US authorities by our allies. Make no mistake, ISIS is seeking to radicalize Americans and unleash them across the US. They won’t be stopped by a Muslim travel ban, building a wall along the Mexican border, bombing ISIS or taking their oil. What will stop these sleeper cells is careful and deliberate intelligence work and cooperation among the US and our allies.
Further, banning Muslims from entering the US is unachievable. What would determine that a person is Muslim? Would American officials issue people seeking to enter the country some sort of test? Would somebody who is not Muslim, but has a Muslim sounding name be automatically banned from entering the country? The entire process is impossible to implement. No “deals” can make this unconstitutional proposal a reality.
Trump has already received criticism for saying that he would target women and children in this fight. Doing so is counterproductive, as it makes the US and its citizens into the monster that ISIS wants its potential recruits to view us as.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that immediately after the Brussels attack, Trump’s legions of lickspittles began to push the false narrative that Trump had accurately predicted this attack back in January. They saw it as further reinforcement of Donald Trump as some sort of sage prophet who knows exactly how to handle ISIS. It was aided by Trump’s calling into as many shows as possible to reiterate his previously stated policies on ISIS. This gave credibility to Trump on the issue of terrorism where no credibility should have been given.
Trump’s idea of how to combat terrorism and ISIS is not based in reality. It unconstitutionally targets an entire religion, while pushing policies that actually make America less safe. We can ill afford to engage in policies that make our allies less likely to work with us and prevent future terror attacks. Nor can we fight terrorism with an approach that creates more terrorists and resentment of the US.
What should be frightening is how Trump’s record and “plan” reveal his utter lack of comprehension of the important issues, especially national security. We cannot place the safety of the US in the hands of someone who cannot comprehend or understand the threat and how to deal with it.
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