Why Trump supporters should oppose immigration ban
Trump's ban on entrants from 7 majority Muslim countries is foolish. We should be following the Israelis and profiling people. This is the opposite idea. It makes counter-terrorism much harder, and aids terrorists by helping them get under the radar. Trump should beware of emulating Obama's early stance of just doing things that his predecessor would never have done so as to please his base
Where's Pakistan? Where's Saudi? If there are only two questions supporters of Donald Trump should be asking with reference to the president's wholly counterproductive entry ban on citizens from seven majority Muslim countries it should be these. They might add: Where's Russia? The Boston bombers were from the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation.
Excluding Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- two of the most febrile hotbeds of Islamic extremism in the world -- shows how lacking in seriousness this policy is. It would be a wrongheaded policy even if they were added. Here's why:
1) Blanket bans make the job of counter-terrorism much harder. Security services only have limited resources. What we should be doing is following the Israelis and profiling entrants to Western countries. This policy is the opposite of profiling. Think of it this way: Iran -- which is on the list -- has a population of 78 million people. Prior to the ban, all sorts of mechanisms -- was a given Iranian related to a member of the Revolutionary Guard? for example -- helped everyone from CIA desk officers to front-line immigration officers make a discerning judgment about whether to let someone into America.
That mechanism hasn't disappeared, but now a five year old child has been put on the same security level as a potential terrorist. The number of needles is the same, but the haystack has been made much bigger. Yes, you stop everyone including the terrorists if you impose a blanket ban, but you become analytically lazy in the process. Why, with limited resources, devote energy to trying to identity individuals when everyone has been put in the same category anyway?
2) It is highly unlikely that any terrorists will be stopped by a blanket ban. With attention diverted to hundreds of millions of largely harmless people, all a terrorist has to do is get a fake passport and the now overloaded immigration officials are much more likely to miss them since their attention is devoted to deporting Iranian grandmothers in wheelchairs.
3) We don't buy the "hornet's nest" argument. This is the retort that pretty much any measure against radical Islam will radicalise people. Not serious. Since they hate us not for what we do but for what we are they'd hate us even if we did nothing. No, the real argument in this respect is that we are unnecessarily disrespecting our friends in these countries. At least half of Iranians hate Islamism even more than we do. And with good reason. They are its primary victims. Why are we making life harder for the people who one day we will rely on to overthrow the regime? It would have been like treating Alexander Solzhenitsyn just like a communist during the Cold War. Madness!
4) The policy is immature grandstanding. It's little better than when Obama came to power and just did the opposite of what Bush did to please his base. Come on Donald. Get over this. It was foolish when Obama did it and it's foolish when you do it.
We're not reflexively anti-Trump, as readers will know. But Trump supporters need to remember that he's a politician. They do dumb things. This is one of them.
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