Donald Trump was supposed to give a major speech Monday on his strategy for defeating the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. What he delivered was a repackaging of past vague proposals about fighting jihadists abroad and even more alarming ideas about combating extremism at home.
Trump said he would convene an international conference and work with moderate Muslim leaders in the Middle East. That makes sense.
But then he proceeded to call for a temporary ban on immigration from regions with terrorism problems, though he didn’t name any countries or clarify whether the ban would cover NATO allies such as France.
He vowed “extreme vetting” of immigrants, including new ideological screening to weed out those who don’t embrace religious freedom, gender equality and other American values or don’t believe in the Constitution. You wonder if Trump could pass the test since he has no clue about the First Amendment.
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And Trump called for a Commission on Radical Islam to help identify “warning signs” and expose homegrown extremist networks to stop attacks such as those in San Bernardino and Orlando, Fla.
Even if practical or legal, these kinds of “thought police” measures are un-American. They certainly aren’t going to win more Muslim allies.
Much of his speech blamed President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for policies he said unleashed the Islamic State and brought chaos to the Middle East. Many of Trump’s criticisms echoed Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, which is even more troubling since the Republican nominee has called for closer cooperation with Russia and become more forgiving of Russian expansionism.
Trump has suggested that he might accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea and might not defend NATO allies in the Baltics if they haven’t fully paid their dues. Previously, Trump strongly opposed Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. It may be no coincidence that Trump promoted these misguided ideas after he made Paul Manafort his campaign chairman in May.
Manafort also advised Ukraine’s deposed pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and according to a New York Times report, Manafort was designated to receive $12.7 million in undisclosed payments from Yanukovych’s political party from 2007 to 2012. Manafort denies receiving the cash.
Obama has made mistakes in foreign policy. But the idea that Trump’s simplistic and contradictory proposals would make things much better is as delusional as Trump calling Obama the “great divider” and saying he’s the one to unite Americans.