So how exactly does this work, Donald Trump’s plan to keep America safe from Islamic terrorism by barring entry to all Muslims? He explained it Tuesday on TV. The immigration official will ask the foreigner if he’s a Muslim.
Trump: “That’s correct.”
Brilliant. And very economical. That is, if you think that bloodthirsty terrorists — “people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” as Trump describes them — will feel honor-bound to tell the truth to an infidel immigration officer. They kill wantonly but, like George Washington, cannot tell a lie. On this logic hinges the great Maginot Line with which Trump will protect America from jihad.
I decline to join the chorus denouncing the Trump proposal as offensive and un-American. That’s too obvious. What I can’t get over is its sheer absurdity.
Here’s a suggestion (borrowed from my Fox News colleague Chris Stirewalt) to shore it up. At every immigration station at every airport in America, we will demand that every potential entrant — immigrant, refugee, student or tourist — eat a bacon sandwich. You refuse? Back home you go!
True, the Stirewalt Solution casts the net a bit wide, snaring innocent vegetarians and Orthodox Jews. But hey, as Trump said Tuesday “We’re at war — get it through your head.” Can’t get squeamish about collateral damage.
Dozens of others have already pointed out how strategically idiotic is Trump’s exclusion principle.
Absent a renewed Christian crusade against radical Islam — with those fabulous Hollywood-wardrobe tunics — the war on terror will only be won in alliance with moderate Muslims. Declaring them anathema is not the best beginning to coalition-building.
To take but the most obvious example: Our closest and most effective allies on the ground in the Middle East are the Kurds. Trump would turn them back at the Orlando airport. No Disney World for them. Or does he not know that they are Muslim?
It is embarrassing even to embark on such arguments. To treat “no Muslims allowed” as a serious idea is to give credit to what is little more than a clever stunt by a man who saw Ted Cruz beating him for the first time in the Iowa Monmouth poll and five hours later decided it was time to seize the stage again.
This got the thinkers going again. National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, whom I (otherwise) hold in considerable esteem, spent 1,000 words trying to tart up the ban in constitutional and statutory livery, stressing — hilariously — that he is dealing with the Trump proposal “in its final form.” As if Trump’s barstool eruptions are painstakingly vetted, and as if anything Trump says about anything is ever final.
Take his Syria policy. In September, he said we should wash our hands and just let Russia fight the Islamic State. Having, I assume, been subsequently informed that Vladimir Putin’s principal interest — and target — is not the Islamic State but the anti-Assad rebels, Trump now promises to “bomb the s– ” out of the Islamic State.
I’m sure there’s a Trump apologist out there working to explain the brilliant complementarity of these two contradictory strategies. Just as a few months ago there was a frenzy of learned scholarship about the constitutional history of the 14th Amendment following another Trump eruption — the abolition of birthright citizenship.
Whatever the final outcome, Trump’s campaign has already succeeded, indelibly affecting both this race and the Republican future. At a time of economic malaise at home and strategic collapse abroad, Trump has managed to steer the entire GOP campaign into absurdities, like mass deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants, and impossibilities, like the exclusion of Muslims from our shores.
“No Muslims allowed” is the perfect example. President Obama’s Oval Office address on Sunday night marked a new low in his presidency. The shopworn arguments, the detached tone, the willful denial that there might be anything wrong with his policy was deeply unsettling for left, right and center. Even The New York Times had to admit “Obama’s Plans to Stop ISIS Leave Many Democrats Wanting More,” which is Timesese for Democrats Stunned by Vacancy in the Oval Office. Here was an opportunity for the Republican field to launch an all-out takedown of the Obama (and Hillary Clinton) foreign policy.
Within less than a day that opportunity was wiped out. Once again, it’s the Donald Show.
[by Charles Krauthammer, writing for The Washington Post and other news outlets]
IRAN FOLLOW-UP: More on the recently-signed Obama nuclear deal
Iran is already cheating on the deal
As part of the international agreement to prohibit Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the Iranian government was supposed to resolve a dozen questions about its past nuclear research. Come clean, the rest of the world essentially said, and we’ll have enough confidence to lift economic sanctions.
Iran hasn’t come clean. This month, the International Atomic Energy Agency released a key report on what it has learned.
Iranian scientists secretly worked on weapons design, testing and components needed for a bomb until 2009, the report says. The scientists developed high-precision detonators and built a facility to study how a nuclear explosion could be triggered. All this while Iranian leaders denied that they sought to build the bomb.
The confidence level in this assessment, though, is not terribly high. That’s because Iran didn’t fully cooperate, as it was expected to do. It did not answer all the questions.
The report abounds with fudge phrases — such as “based on all the information available” — to indicate that all the information wasn’t available. Iran didn’t answer three of 12 questions posed by the IAEA. It provided only partial answers to several others. In some cases, the IAEA didn’t believe Iran’s claims.
“Overall, Iran provided little real cooperation,” the Institute for Science and International Security concludes. “Denials and lack of truthfulness should not be confused with cooperation. … The truth of Iran’s work on nuclear weapons is probably far more extensive than outlined by the IAEA.
All this was no surprise. Days before the report’s release, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano tamped down expectations. “The report will not be black and white,” he said.
But the world has reason to expect full and complete answers. “They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done,” Secretary of State John Kerry said back in April.
After the deal was signed, however, Kerry backpedaled, arguing that the U.S. already knows enough about Iran’s past work and never expected a full confession.
The U.S. has signaled that Iran’s partial, grudging cooperation will be enough to keep the deal on track.
A second Iranian ballistic missile test a few days ago, another apparent violation of United Nations sanctions, won’t be enough to knock it off course either.
The IAEA board of governors is expected to vote later this month to accept the report. Other nations and business leaders are gearing up to do business in Iran. The U.S. is expected to start lifting sanctions on Iran as early as January. That would be a mistake.
The U.S. and its negotiating partners on the nuclear agreement will get one chance to establish that the terms and conditions are solid, concrete, that Iran will be expected to strictly comply. Otherwise, this will start with the tacit understanding that routine noncompliance will be tolerated. Iran will get the signal that it can stonewall inspectors who seek to enforce the deal over the next decade.
The lifting of economic sanctions should be paused until Iran completely answers those questions about its practice nuclear work.
This information is vital. Without it, the West can’t accurately gauge Iran’s breakout capability — that is, how fast Iran could build a bomb if it decided to scrap the deal.
The U.S. and other negotiators should use their leverage — the U.S. and international sanctions — to force Tehran to fill in the remaining blanks on its weapons program. Once sanctions come off, they won’t be easily reimposed.
The urgency here isn’t to lift sanctions as quickly as possible to strengthen Iran’s wobbly economy. The urgency is to demand that Iran deliver on its promises to come clean.
Black and white. Not gray.
[This editorial appeared in The Chicago Tribune]
NORM ‘n’ AL Note: Why would Iran bother to “come clean”? It has watched Obama, in office for seven years now, lie to America and the rest of the world since he first assumed office. Has anyone demanded, in a form which has some teeth to it, that Obama “come clean”? Not at all.
As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis