While he laid out an impressive strategy that includes uplifting Muslim reformers, he also vindicated decades of Islamist propaganda.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump outlined his proposed counter-terrorism strategy yesterday. He laid out an impressive ideology-based strategy that includes uplifting Muslim reformers; however, he also vindicated decades of Islamist propaganda by emphasizing his opinion that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil from its people, requiring a long-term military occupation to protect it.
The parts of the speech about waging an ideological war on radical Islam were a breath of fresh air.
Criticizing of the past two administrations for not identifying the enemy is not an inconsequential squabbling over semantics. It’s an organizing principle. It is necessary for distinguishing friend from foe and waging the war of ideas. Confronting this ideology should be enthusiastically received by liberals/progressives and conservatives alike.
Trump explained, “Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
“My administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East and will amplify their voices. This includes speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings…” he continued.
When it comes to outlining the radical Islamic beliefs that we must confront, Trump knocked it out of the park, saying:
“A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people. In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test of the threats we face today.
“In addition to screening out all members of sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles—or who believe that sharia law should supplant American law.
“Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.”
He also called for deporting non-citizens who preach hatred, teaching our values and patriotism to newcomers and wisely talked about why assimilation is an “expression of compassion,” rather than “an act of hostility.”
Casting aside his ridiculous and offensive idea of a ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S., he instead advocated “extreme” ideological vetting based around American values.
Dr. Daniel Pipes has some recommendations on a vetting process can separate Islamists from Muslims we should embrace showing that this process is possible by using background checks, link analysis of what groups potential immigrants have associated with and questioning.
There were multiple bad parts of Trump’s speech, with one whopper being saved for last.
First, his counter-terrorism strategy is devoid of details outside of immigration. Trump pledged to uplift moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, but how does he plan to do that? A “counter-terrorism plan” without a multifaceted strategy for the region is no plan at all.
Second, there is a major contradiction in his views. He sees “secular” dictators like Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, Muammar Qaddafi and Hosni Mubarak as net pluses. A major feature of his speeches is blasting the pursuit of regime changes and undermining of governments. He hasn’t even called for embracing the Iranian opposition.
How can you “amply the voices” moderate Muslim reformers and the tyrannical governments who forcibly sew their mouths shut?
Finally, the temporary ban on immigration from unstable countries known for exporting terrorism has to be amended, especially if wants to be pro-human rights and ally with Muslim reformers. What about the minorities fleeing those countries? What about a reformist Muslim who is trying to escape?
There has to be a process for exempting those who meet the highest standards and even expediting their path to residency if necessary and possible. A persecuted Coptic Christian or a Muslim who is swarmed with death threats for challenging honor killings deserve special treatment.
For some unfathomable reason, Trump chose to emphasize—and emphasize and emphasize—that he feels the U.S. needs to be more pro-pillaging and pro-conquering. In regards to Iraq, he said:
“I was saying this constantly and to whoever would listen: Keep the oil, keep the oil, keep the oil. I said, ‘don’t let someone else get it.’…In the old days, when we won a war, to the victor belonged the spoils.”
Trump was referring to seizing the Iraqis’ oil, using it as we see fit and having an indefinite military occupation to keep it.
For decades, one of the main—and most fruitful—Islamist talking points is that the West, particularly the U.S., is scheming to steal oil from the Muslims and is happy to lie and slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocents to get it.
This breeds relentless hostility to our ideology and favorability towards Islamism. If that propaganda is seen as an undeniable fact, then it becomes is impossible for moderate Muslim reformers to succeed because it’s nearly impossible to argue that a violent jihadagainst America is impermissible.
Until now, the Islamists had to use information blockades and waves of untruths to overcome the West’s staunch denials and assurances of goodwill. Now, they have clips of an American presidential candidate supported by about 41% of the country advocating what they’ve claimed all along—that the U.S. wants to militarily conquer their land and take their resources.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.
Clarion Project – Challenging Extremism | Promoting Dialogue