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Both Donald Trump and His Critics Are Wrong about Immigration and Refugees

In issuing the recent restrictions on entry to the U.S., writes Tom Gross, the president has done much damage. But the hysterical reactions of his critics have not displayed much understanding, or ethical discernment:

The executive order is morally unacceptable (it amounts to collective punishment), strategically dubious (since many terrorists are home-grown or came from countries other than those seven), and was initially implemented in a confusing and clumsy way which caused [unnecessary] distress and uncertainty to many travelers, including U.S. residents, even if they were not in the end affected by the order. Additionally, it sets an anti-immigrant tone, when immigrants can hugely benefit their new countries. . . .

But whereas those protesting Trump are in many ways correct, the self-righteousness and double standards of some is troubling. . . . [T]he war in Syria descended into barbarity in part because President Obama encouraged the rebels, and the Sunni majority population of Syria who supported them, promising them arms and protection, and then abandoned them. Obama went on to release billions of dollars in funds to the Iranian regime, whose forces and Shiite militias in Syria have done much, if not most, of the killing there these past six years. The new funds helped the Iranians fuel the effort to cleanse Sunnis from Syria, leading many to seek sanctuary in Europe and beyond. While millions of people in America, Britain, and elsewhere have protested Trump’s refugee policies in just one week, they had little to say about Obama’s foreign policies over the last eight years. . . .

The Guardian’s Owen Jones helped promote last night’s “Emergency demo against Trump’s #MuslimBan” outside [the British prime minister’s residence on] Downing Street. But where was the protest when Israelis were banned from Malaysia and fifteen other Muslim-majority countries—including Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Iran, the same countries whose citizens will now face increased vetting before visiting the U.S.? . . .

Donald Trump’s start as president has not been good. But he may yet find creative ways to stop the refugee flow in the first place. He is reportedly in talks with the Saudis about setting up safe zones for Syrians inside Saudi Arabia (if not inside Syria itself), and limiting Iran’s “destabilizing regional activities” in the region. If this works, it could, in the longer term, be more significant in helping Syrians than anything that was done under Obama.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Immigration, Politics & Current Affairs, Refu, Refugees, Syrian civil war

 

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen