By Matthew Spurrier
The revised travel ban, which was issued to six Muslim-majority countries by Donald Trump, does not provide a dramatic increase in United States national security. The restriction bars entrance to the United States for refugees for 120 days and Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia for 90 days. The Trump Administration claims these are only temporary measures to thoroughly update the vetting process for all immigrants. The poor implementation of the original travel ban also left a number of visa holders in limbo, which played a part in sparking protests at airports around the country in D.C, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland and many others. The Trump administration has since addressed this issue. Current visa holders are now likely safe under the ban, but the damage has been done. The visceral image of people being stopped from entering the United States will be used by the terror network/state ISIS as propaganda to further their twisted narrative. The plot ISIS wishes to further is that the United States, or “the West,” is at war with Islam. A narrative that requires smashing to have any chance at bringing peace to the Middle East.
The incompetency of the travel ban is going directly against the United State’s goal of combatting terror. It has not banned immigration from all Muslim-majority countries, but a select few which is enough to galvanize the American left in protest. While terrorist organizations such as the Islamic state justify their use of violence through religious conviction and zeal, they also use anti-Islamic (and anti-American) propaganda to radicalize recruits through the internet. In other words, the Islamic State will take pieces from Western media criticizing Islam to paint a picture that Americans as a whole dislike and mock their faith. They then couple this with disturbing pictures that gruesomely depict the harsh realities of drone warfare. This becomes a very powerful propaganda tool that as we have witnessed, can radicalize young Muslim men across the globe.
Donald Trump is doing something not typically seen in politics today (unfortunately,) keeping the promises he made on the campaign trail. In line with his business background, Trump treated the campaign process as his literal interview for the job as President. Here he laid out his business plan on how he would run the world’s largest business- the United States government. As evident in the early weeks of his presidency Donald Trump is putting that business plan into action, and has been eager to sign executive orders to make good on his campaign promises. One of these promises at a rally in 2015 was a call for a halt on all Muslim immigration to the United States, hence why his opponents have dubbed this policy the “Muslim ban.” The Trump administration put in play a doomed policy that has caused him more stress at home than any terrorist abroad
Every nation has not only a right, but a duty to vet all immigrants to ensure the safety of every citizen–new immigrants included. This is a rational concern, yet the Trump administration has taken irrational measures playing off this concept. If the objective was to halt immigration from all states that may harbor future terrorists, it failed because it is entirely too narrow.
Why are countries such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Egypt left off the list? You’re more likely to find a radical jihadi terrorist in any of those countries before you find one in Tehran. Multiple fanatics that orchestrated the attacks on September eleventh are from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Once you look at American political, military and economic interests in those states, it is entirely clear why they were purposefully forgotten.
This executive order then could be framed as a piece of pork thrown to the minority within President Trump’s base who actually are xenophobic. Neo-nazi websites such as the Daily Stormer have hailed the ban as “a good start.” There is no reason to suspect the President is trying to deliberately satisfy this base. However aligning with their goals, intentionally or not, has alienated and put the rest of Trump’s base in an awkward position. It is entirely reasonable to raise questions about the American immigration system, but this policy has only given ammo to the opposition for both the left to label his supporters as bigots themselves, and the extremist cause it is attempting to deter. If possible, this policy is making it more difficult to be honest about, and combat Islamic extremism.
Terrorists like ISIS believe they are waging a literal holy war. They are attempting to draw the West into judging people solely off religion. Not only does this go directly against American values specifically enamored in our constitution, it pins us against the people we should be trying to help. It’s important to remember that Muslims, like any group of people, are not a hivemind.
There is a spectrum of beliefs and values within these different communities, and the majority of people fleeing from the areas banned are fleeing from radicals themselves. The people most affected by terrorism are Muslims, and the United States should be involved in empowering the nominal and Liberals within the Muslim community who detest this grotesque violence in the name of their faith. These are our most important allies in combating Islamic extremism. Secretary of Defense James Mattis fought against the application of the ban in Iraq for this reason. By casting a blanket ban, it actually makes our cooperation with regional forces in the Middle East against ISIS more difficult. It does not necessarily matter that the President says this is not a Muslim ban. The way ISIS is framing the policy is that America does not like Muslims because of their faith, and we should not take easily-avoidable steps to confirm that bias.
Inefficient for stated purpose, creating more divisiveness on an already toxic subject and perpetuating the extremist narrative. Not explicit goals of the travel ban, but it is succeeding in all three nonetheless. The Trump administration could have taken steps to review immigration policies while avoiding this type of selected ban. The executive order that was meant to review better ways to combat extremism may in turn have just helped the extremist cause, which is no doubt counterproductive.