Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Trump's Muslim ban exposes stupidity
Donald Trump won the Presidency because of his hardline approach to issues and simplistic messaging. In the business world, where he had operated previously, his success (largely exaggerated) was not achieved through diplomacy and managing complex and nuanced issues. It also appears that we have a man who is the emotional and intellectual equivalent of a bolshie, narcissistic, teenage boy leading the world's largest power.
President Trump exists because of the Post-Truth age. Not only was he elected because of the dominance of commercially and idealistically driven, popular media, his own knowledge and understanding of the world comes from the same sources. Research has revealed that watching Fox News is likely to make someone less informed about the world than watching no news at all. Lincoln's famous quote, "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth" could be rewritten to reflect the reality: "Government of the ignorant, by the ignorant, for ignorant, shall destroy the earth." Given that the US is one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and Trump is a climate denier, the world's environmental clock sped up when he took office.
The Executive Orders being signed with great enthusiasm are simplistic idealistic statements of intent that are not evidence based and will have far reaching consequences. His immigration and refugee ban is a classic example and the damage was instant.
The ignorance that lead to the immigration order is easy to understand. The fear of Islamic Terrorists came out of the horrific 9/11 (or 7/11 according to Trump) when United States citizens suddenly felt vulnerable to attack from outside. Bush's War on Terror was an attempt to allay those fears in a decisive way. An enemy had to be established and a show of strength in dealing to them was required. Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were identified as the enemy, but this was problematic as bin Laden was a Saudi and he led loose groups that existed in a number of countries. Iraq became a convenient excuse for concentrating military operations in a single state while a parallel, clandestine operation to capture and torture potential terrorists occurred across many states.
Despite ending the war in Iraq and killing bin Laden (a trial would have brought too much attention to the actual realities and illegalities of the US operations), the situation in the Middle East has actually got worse. The War on Terror is an impossible one to win because the US is largely attempting to aggressively manage the discontent of millions of Muslim people suffering from poor foreign policy and military decisions. The fundamentalism and extreme views that have developed in the Middle East have been mainly created by the volatile environments that many Muslims are being forced to endure. This is not a religious conflict but, as in many wars, religion is used to provide justification.
Under President Obama there had been a continuation of operations that flout international law as US drones operate and kill suspected terrorists, without trial, across multiple borders. Thousands of deaths have been officially recognised but many more are disputed, including the combatant/civilian status of many who have been killed. The countries where US drones have operated are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Yemen and possibly Mali.
There is no logic to Trumps executive order to protect US citizens from terrorism. None of the terrorists who have killed people on US soil come from the seven Muslim countries singled out by the ban (15 of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia). Indonesia, the largest Muslim majority nation, is a notable omission and it appears that no Muslim countries where Trump has business interests have been included either. Yemen, one of the named states, is one of the poorest and most disadvantaged countries in the world. Its citizens are suffering hugely from a civil war where the US supported Saudi forces have an active involvement and are linked to possible war crimes. These Muslim nations have more to fear from the US than visa versa.
The threat posed by Islamic terrorists is extremely overstated. Around 16,000 people are murdered in the US every year (over 40 a day) and that compares with the average of 6 deaths a year as a result of a terrorist act since 9/11. Having tighter gun controls would make a far bigger difference to reducing violent deaths than tighter border controls. All Trump has done is increase the suffering of innocent Muslim families, caused chaos at airports and border controls and provided further proof that he is totally unfit for the role of President.