Trump is harmful to American security

Published 11:24 pm Friday, December 11, 2015

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump reminds me of Lucy, the character in Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip “Peanuts.” In one strip, Lucy is trying to alarm a happy Snoopy, loudly yelling “Floods, fires and famine! Death, doom and destruction!”
Despite rumors of wars and earthquakes and floods, it’s not all doom and gloom. Love still exists and dominates our behavior. Hyperbolizing our fears is Trump’s chosen campaign trademark — and one that packs the potential for causing great harm to this country.
The Paris attacks and mass shootings in the United States, especially in San Bernardino, have stirred 9/11 memories in our collective national consciousness, fears which Trump has been almost gleeful to exploit, predicting many more World Trade Tower collapses. His supporters seem to love it when he talks apocalypse.
Now Trump has given American voters a chance to see what he’d be like in foreign affairs. This week, he exported to the rest of the world his domestic politics of fear, division and polarization. People are scared. Trump wants no show of American courage, but rather desires us to be even more frightened.
To that end, Trump proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” He announced it by referring to himself in the third person, enlisting his middle initial: “Donald J. Trump calls for …” as if it were a biblical decree. I didn’t know God had a middle initial.
It’s not the domestic reaction, but the turmoil Trump has caused among our allies, the cheer he gave our enemies and the havoc he wreaked on U.S. security and foreign policy that should concern all of us.
You would think, as many Americans surely believe, that in such a chaotic, unpredictable and dangerous world, we would be keen on keeping the friends we have. But Trump managed to alienate two of our strongest allies, the United Kingdom and Israel, with one campaign trail statement.
Trump already had lit a bonfire in London by falsely declaring that there were Muslim sections of London where the police were afraid to go. That prompted London’s Metropolitan Police Force to issue a rare statement: “We would not normally dignify such comments, (however) it’s important to state to Londoners that Mr. Trump could not be more wrong.”
The British themselves took immediate, strong offense to Trump’s “ban all Muslims” decree. Over 300,000 people signed a petition citing Trump’s “unacceptable behavior” in asking the British Parliament to ban Trump from entry into that country. Parliament must consider such petitions for debate if they gather 100,000 signatures, which it did in just a few hours.
Britain has banned others under a law to prevent entry to those individuals who foster hatred that could provoke domestic violence. Through his spokesman, Prime Minister David Cameron said that Trump’s ban was “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”
It’s safe to say that there would be no Cameron-Trump partnership like the Churchill-FDR one.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman likewise rejected Trump’s words, saying, “Israel respects all religions.”
Trump’s “ban” on Muslims and a proposed trip to Israel that had, for a time, included a Trump provocation that he was “strongly considering” a visit to the Temple Mount, caused a Knesset member to warn that Trump was publicity-seeking at “the holiest place in the world for Muslims.” The New York Daily News quoted Taleb Abu Arar, a member of an Arab-dominated political party in Israel, as saying, “Such a visit will set the whole region on fire. I am warning.”
The Pentagon warned that Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims undermined our national security. There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, and only the most miniscule number pose any sort of threat to the West. Seventeen men carried out 9/11; 10 were involved in the Paris attacks; two homegrown terrorists undertook the San Bernardino shootings. ISIS has an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 militia. But Donald Trump’s proposal has the potential of offending those 1.3 billion Muslims whom we count on as allies in the fight against terrorists of all stripes.
A typical Muslim response to Trump’s ban was sadness. Ruwayda Mustafah, a British citizen and a Kurd — the Muslims who have been most successful in fighting ISIS — poignantly tweeted, “There’s something inherently sad about having to humanise ourselves to be accepted.”
The real-life harm that Trump’s “total ban” decree caused is serious enough that he undoubtedly was privately told by overseas diplomats that he should not even think of visiting. Trump canceled his trip to Israel, tweeting that he would “reschedule after he was president.”
This week demonstrates the too-real possibility that Trump could actually hurt the U.S. campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. For now, Donald Trump’s rhetoric is noxious, and it will continue to sow seeds of division when what need is strength and unity in the face of the threat of ISIS.
Donna Brazile is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News, and a contributing columnist to Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine.

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