US PRESIDENT Trump to us is a well-meaning but ill-informed man of goodwill. He is no longer the Donald Trump of more or less 13 years ago, whom some people thought should be loathed for his lax morals and also for being a man who said whatever he felt like saying, even half-truths and exaggerations, to make a sale or win an argument.
He has since made himself credible enough to American voters. They elected him President, seeing him as a more well-behaved person and one who has turned away from the loose sense of morals he exhibited in the past.
We presume that he, who only some months ago, thought ours was a Muslim- majority country that bred terrorists, has also crammed to learn the most important foreign facts and policy matters to do a good job as President of the United States.
But cramming does not always equip people with all the necessary knowledge to keep them from making wrong moves.
And that is probably why he issued what most observers agree is an ill-considered and bad executive order banning for 90 days the entry to the United States of travelers from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations. As government regulations usually go, the ban has not only shaken Muslim immigrants-in-waiting but also people of other nationalities seeking entry as refugees and immigrants. Even green card holders, who had left the US on business or holiday, have been stopped from returning home by misguided immigration officers.
Most likely, Mr. Trump will have to reverse his order before long. If he doesn’t, the US Supreme Court or even a minor court would surely rule his EO as something to be struck down.
The most compelling motive of President Trump for issuing the ban is to reduce the threat of Islamic extremists blowing up crowded areas in the US as they have done in Germany, Canada and elsewhere. The seven countries are those that former President Barack Obama’s national security officials listed as the places where the terrorist bombers would most likely come from – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
But the US has Muslim allies in all these countries—even if in some of these the ruling forces are Muslims who hate America. In fact, most likely the majority of the people in these countries are pro-American and distrust their autocratic rulers. As a result, Mr. Trump’s ban could actually make life difficult for America-loving Arabs and turn them into haters of America and the Americans. These, as well as people in other Arab countries whose monarchs and ruling groups have been friends and allies of the United States against their Arab enemies, would then begin to view the US as no longer their friend and protector.
The banned countries have supplied some, if not many, of the Arabs who are working for the US as intelligence agents, informants, translators, clerks, etcetera, both outside and inside US military facilities and civilian offices in the Middle East. With President Trump’s ban, they will no longer feel assured by the near certainty that if they need to flee the Arab world they can easily get visas as refugees or migrants in America.
Even the government people and lawmakers in Iraq, who are all friends of America for helping them—with arms, money, supplies and soldiers—win their country back from their Iran-backed domestic enemies, are angered by Mr. Trump’s ban. Leaders of the Iraqi parliament, most likely just to show their irritation, have threatened to pass a law denying visas to Americans who want to enter Iraq.
It’s a mess that must be cleared up quickly. Because the next disgruntled Arab to do something ugly and tragic against Americans could be an Arab who has risked his life in the service of the US in Iraq. He and his ilk must not be made to feel that they are being treated as enemies by the men across an immigration counter in America.