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Travel Ban: Why Trump (And Bannon) Mirror ISIS So Perfectly

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Travel Ban: Why Trump (And Bannon) Mirror ISIS So Perfectly

travel ban

What if the purpose of the Trump administration’s travel ban is not to protect America from terrorist infiltration, as the president and his top advisers insist? What if the true aim of their anti-Muslim rhetoric, articulated over and over again, is instead to offend Muslims and intensify their alienation from the West?

Those questions are salient because the newly revised restrictions, announced on Monday, are certain to accomplish only that: They will inflame resentment in the Muslim world, without improving security in this country at all. According to actual experts on terrorism, as distinct from the ideological amateurs in the White House, the ban is not just ineffectual but provocative.

And again, countries long implicated in Islamic extremism and terrorist activities remain exempt from restrictions (possibly because some of those same regimes also host Trump Organization enterprises).

Only days ago, the Trump flacks argued strenuously that Iraqi immigrants are dangerous, but now the revised travel ban exempts Iraq too, after protests from our military — whose officers were enraged by the White House betrayal of Iraqi translators and others who had aided them in battle.

Backing down on Iraq doesn’t answer the real riddle, however: Why would Trump provoke conflict with a Mideast ally, whose army has courageously charged into battle against the Islamic State? And why would he seek to fracture that alliance when Iraqi forces, advised and supported by our military, were headed toward a major victory over ISIS in Mosul?

Perhaps “chief strategist” Stephen Bannon, White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and all the Trump aides who have conceived and defended the travel ban are simply too dense to understand that bigotry doesn’t work as policy. But although they often appear incompetent, they aren’t quite that stupid.

As we learn more about their extremist ideology, an alternative explanation emerges: Bannon, Miller, Sessions, and presumably the president himself understand very well that attacking Muslims and Islam must exacerbate divisions between the West and the Muslim world, as well as between Muslim-Americans and the rest of American society. Intensified conflict is the only foreseeable result of their actions and outbursts — and appears to be the only result they want.

Beyond Trump’s own clumsy attempts to isolate and demonize Muslims — against the advice of his military advisers — there is much documented evidence of his administration’s chilling outlook. Recently, the Huffington Post revealed that Bannon sees the modern world through the prism of a frankly racist and Islamophobic French novel, The Camp of the Saints, which envisions a dystopian future when the Christian West is overrun by millions of savage migrants from the East and South. That novel’s hero, who slaughters the migrants and their white sympathizers, “harkens back to famous battles that fit the clash of civilizations narrative,” from Vienna and Constantinople to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Cited often by Bannon and promoted by other right-wing extremists, the book is “nothing less than a call to arms for the white Christian West, to revive the spirit of the Crusades and steel itself for bloody conflict.”

Maybe that is why Trump and his gang felt no shame in expressing their callousness toward the suffering of Muslim refugees, including small children. That may also be why they felt no compunction in disrespecting a Muslim Gold Star family — and why they showed so little concern over the president’s blatant call for a “Muslim ban,” until that became a legal liability.

Of course Bannon, Miller, Trump and company aren’t alone in adopting the cataclysmic belief that an inevitable war between civilizations has already begun. By rejecting tolerance and ecumenism, the Trump White House mirrors the Islamic State and every other jihadist group, whose shared objective is to incite enmity between Western and Muslim societies by every available means. So even as our true enemy is pushed back and obliterated on the ground — by Muslim soldiers! — Trump’s aggressive policies will advance the jihadist cause worldwide.

.If this is the secret Trump plan to defeat ISIS, they could have written it themselves.

IMAGE: Iraqi soldiers gather to go battle against Islamic State militants south of Mosul , Iraq, June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer 

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 7, 2017

    The point of callousness shown to refugees from Syria was expressed by a Republican US rep. from our state when in one of his numerous trite mailings sent to every household in his District, he expressed his wish that the doors be shut to Syrian refugees. To which I responded to his office by email, sternly rebuking him for his cold, insensitive and anti-Christian sentiments. No response was forthcoming from his office.
    Fortunately, the majority of voters saw fit to boot his hienie out of office for a variety of reasons, including corruption.

    As for Trump and Bannon, they too are severely lacking in compassion, and must either be agnostics or atheists masquerading as Christians, or just plain dismissive of Christian ideals like so many others. This lack of ideals is now a common feature of many citizens claiming to be Christian, yet maintain a misanthropic attitude towards other humans simply on the basis of skin color or religious affiliation. The Message of Jesus no longer resonates in the hearts of Trump and Bannon, and has been replaced by the worship of Money and Race by both men. And to think that America is being run and advised by who may as well be considered reps for Satan itself. The GOP likewise is suspect in its connection with its avowed Christian values, and maintain an ancient animus towards Islam which began upon that sacred Religion’s inception.

    To raise an objection against Muhammad and His Religion means in essence that one objects to Jesus and to Christianity. In both religions, there are clergy and lay people who have distorted and misused their respective Religions, but the Essence of both Religions is the same—just expressed differently and meant to address different eras in humankind’s evolution.

    To substantiate my point, what better way than to cite a passage from Baha’u’llah which He wrote affirming the Oneness of the Station of each and every Messenger sent by God in succession. As you’ll note, Baha’u’llah is defending the truth of each Religion, and defending all of the Messengers sent in very clear terms—a clarity which obviously is necessary in this juncture in our evolution.

    “Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their Revelation. This indeed is the true meaning of Divine Unity, if ye be of them that apprehend and believe this truth. Be ye assured, moreover, that the works and acts of each and every one of these Manifestations of God, nay whatever pertaineth unto them, and whatsoever they may manifest in the future, are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Whoso maketh the slightest possible difference between their persons, their words, their messages, their acts and manners, hath indeed disbelieved in God, hath repudiated His signs, and betrayed the Cause of His Messengers.”

    (pgs 59-60 “Gleanings from The Writings of Baha’u’llah”—[a compilation of certain Tablets] )

  2. Dominick Vila March 8, 2017

    Absolutely, and I would add that the Trump strategy to further de-stabilize the Middle East, Persian Gulf, North Africa, and antagonize China and Latin America, are all part of a well thought out strategy to justify increased defense spending, and legitimize future adventurism. The goal is, indeed, not to protect the USA against people from countries that are not a threat to the USA, the goal is to drive Muslims worldwide insane to justify the advancement of our ideological and economic goals using a facade of righteousness where none exists. The result of this faux geo-political strategy is already becoming evident in our relationship with China, the only country with some leverage and influence in North Korean policy.
    One thing is certain, if the Trump global strategy continues, and it deteriorates into open warfare with a major country, don’t expect Trump’s kids to volunteer to serve. They will all develop bone spurs, and let the children of the middle class they so despise do the dirty work for them.

    1. dbtheonly March 8, 2017

      The concept or the “Rising Tide of Colour” has been around for 100 years. Is this any different?

      And to what purpose? Oil? You’ve picked the wrong enemies in the 7, no wait, 6, terrorist countries. Inflaming the 1.5 billion Muslims so that you can kill them all, thus reducing the world population? Harsh and of practical difficulty.

      This ignores the very real threats to the USA and her allies by Russia, the DPRK, and even China.

      The volunteer Army does allow for much more specialized training and may reduce costs. At costs to those volunteering, in isolating the Armed Forces from the population at large, and vice versa, and to the denigration of a national communal experience.

      1. Dominick Vila March 8, 2017

        Using Lothrop Stoddard’s work as a metaphor for what is happening is most interesting, and definitely part of the equation. I suspect that other factors include economic considerations, as well as political imperatives.

        1. dbtheonly March 8, 2017

          Trump, the image is all that matters?

          1. Dominick Vila March 9, 2017

            For an arrogant narcissist, adulation is the only thing that matters. Projecting an image of strength and wisdom, where none exists, is paramount for a person like him.

          2. dbtheonly March 9, 2017

            Now we have to incorporate that into our view of the Administration. Let’s pick Obamacare. The replacement, if any, doesn’t have to work. It has to be perceived as working. Can the RWMO sell it to the public? The Muslim Ban doesn’t have to affect anything. It has to be perceived as being “tough on terrorism”

            And we’ll mix in what I said last week, and Paul Krugman’s article. The Republicans have no policies. The have no positive programs. They can oppose. Only oppose.

          3. Dominick Vila March 9, 2017

            Projecting a semblance of accomplishment where none exists has been their MO for decades. That is true in most of their policies and actions, including their propensity to rely on deficit spending and accumulation of debt, which they shamelessly blame on the opposition, even when the opposition manages to create budget surpluses or reduce deficits dramatically. The sad part of all this is that a large segment of our population accept their claims without hesitation.

          4. dbtheonly March 9, 2017

            Don’t forget Dom, the Republicans are very good at hiding the downside of their bills in the future. They did that with the Bush Tax Cuts, they’re doing it with the Medicare subsidies in TrumpCare. The entire RWMO is in the bag for them. Constantly touting the advantages of whatever it is and minimizing, or ignoring, the downside. The lack of attention span of the American Public is certainly no help as well.

    2. Leannjrawls March 8, 2017

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    3. sigrid28 March 10, 2017

      The point of this ultimate conflict between the East and the West: Is it to enforce one religious POV worldwide? Is it for the West to have an excuse to “take the oil” as Trump insists we should have done in Iraq? Is it to play out war games in real time?

      1. Dominick Vila March 10, 2017

        Religious and cultural ideology have been behind Western interventionism in the Islamic world for centuries. Economic and political imperatives were behind W’s decision to invade Iraq, and are very likely the most important reasons for Trump’s aggressive policies in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. W did not hesitate to say that he was planning to use revenues from Iraqi oil to pay for his crusade. He backed off when our allies and some of his advisors convinced him that stealing from smaller, vanquished, nations was counter productive politically. All these components, religion, cultural differences, economic considerations, and the need to satisfy a segment of our population that would love nothing more than inflicting pain on Muslims, Mexicans, and all the boogeymen they blame for their misfortunes, are behind the myopic policies against Iran, our eagerness to intervene in Syria, including joining forces with Russia and al Assad to destroy an opposition that includes Kurdish fighters seeking independence from Turkey. All of this while ignoring North Korean real threats to our national security, including the potential use of nuclear weapons using long range missiles. I confess that the last thing I want is intervention in North Korea. One of my grandsons is about to be deployed to South Korea in May, but I can’t help feeling disturbed when I consider our aggressive behavior against countries that are not a threat to us, while ignoring very real threats against our interests and even our ability to survive in the dangerous world we live in.

        1. sigrid28 March 10, 2017

          I saw the roll-out of the ballistic missile defense system we sent to South Korea. Is it naïve to think a build-up of military personnel and armaments in South Korea will make members of our armed forces, like your grandson, safer? Again with respect to North Korea, it is always better to know the enemy and prepare accordingly: There truly is safety in numbers, even numbers of American families praying for our young men and women. When I stop to think of it, your grandson may be safer than military personnel deployed elsewhere, because North Korea may hesitate to destroy South Korea with a nuclear weapon because of its proximity. I hope the crazy man in North Korea can at least see that! Now back to praying . . .

          1. Dominick Vila March 10, 2017

            The foreign press is saying that Kim Jong Un acknowledged that his ballistic testing is designed to prepare an attack against U.S. military bases…

          2. sigrid28 March 10, 2017

            Very disconcerting, because he is in range of so many. More praying . . .

        2. sigrid28 March 10, 2017

          Back to the subject of the conflict between the East and the West: Perhaps the outcome was determined culturally long ago, without a bomb, a rifle, or a sword. The West conquered the world with a cell phone, a personal computer, and a television. Don’t feel sorry for the East. They got to invent meditation, acupuncture, and noodles.

  3. FireBaron March 8, 2017

    “Perhaps “chief strategist” Stephen Bannon, White House policy adviser
    Stephen Miller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and all the Trump aides
    who have conceived and defended the travel ban are simply too dense to
    understand that bigotry doesn’t work as policy. But although they often
    appear incompetent, they aren’t quite that stupid.” Joe, think about what you wrote. Not sure about Miller, but both Bannon and Sessions have a history of bigotry that stretches back years. This is just another extension of that same bigotry.

    And let’s not forget that every “foreigner” involved in terrorist plots in the US since September 10, 2001, have been from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Chechen regions of Russia. How come we still do not see those countries on the banned list? Oh, yeah. In the case of Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, Teflon Donnie still has business dealings there. As for Russia, there is no way Teflon Donnie could do anything to upset his lord and master, Vladimir Vladimirovich, Tsar of All Russias.

  4. AlfredSonny March 8, 2017

    Trump is too myopic to envision any outcomes of anything other than his pride and personal finances. He would do anything to camouflage his mistakes and lies for his selfish personal gains. Republicans should be courageous enough to save democracy by having him impeached yesterday.

  5. Carl Sdano March 8, 2017

    All of Joe Conason’s points are quite plausible. What’s not stressed enough in conversations about the Middle East is that this whole mess was started under George W. Bush with his administration’s trumped up war & claims of WMDs. We as a country have a moral obligation to help those poor souls who were caught up in the fighting through no fault of their own. Vet them? Yes. Carte blanc deny them entry into our country? No.

    1. jayyuma March 12, 2017

      A moral obligation to set up a safe zone, YES!!!!
      But – as far as GWB’s ‘trumped-up war’ – I’d be open for discussion on that – and his old man for Gulf War One.
      But don’t be so selective, how about Obama and his Arab Spring, and his HUGE ‘successes’ in Egypt (which thankfully, for them – and the few Christians living there, staged a coup to throw out the muslem brotherhood), Libya (yeah, explain THAT one about Khadafi, whose female population were the best cared-for, and best educated in North Africa), and Syria – whose surviving population (and were it possible to revive the dead, those also) would love to go back to 2011 before obama and McCain thought that Assad needed to go.

  6. Eleanore Whitaker March 8, 2017

    Coward Trump has not once mentioned any retaliation on ISIS. And, he won’t. He knows he is a dead man if he does. So he keeps his trap shut about ISIS so as not to stir the pot and “lose his head.” (Pun intended).

    The reality of the second travel ban is that it too will be shot down for no other reason than it is totally baseless. Not a single one of the countries he is banning have EVER committed an act of terrorism on U.S. soil or our allies soil either.

    So why chose those particular countries? Business as usual for Trump. The Grifter in Chief knows that if he bans Iranian travel, he is also sanctioning the sale of Iranian oil and their global oil trade. He does that for his Saudi buddies. And let’s not forget that Russia gets its oil from the Saudis. China gets theirs from several other middle eastern countries, including Iran. Smell that reeking odor of Trump’s Art of the Sleaze?

    1. jayyuma March 12, 2017

      ‘So why chose those particular countries?’
      You CANNOT be that uninformed!
      As far as Iran and the Saudis – you go girl! Add THEM to the list also.

  7. Eleanore Whitaker March 8, 2017

    If you were doing a jig saw puzzle and had all of the pieces that form the outer frame of the puzzle, you’d see clearly the only thing missing to form the complete puzzle picture is Putin and Trump.

    No matter where the Republicans go to cause a major distraction away from the Russians meddling into our elections, they cannot go further than Trump and Putin. Since no one but Hillary was running against Trump in the last three months of the election, nothing the righties say about Putin rigging the election to “keep Hillary from winning” makes any sense. How wouldn’t Putin rigging an election against Hillary not HELP Trump win if he was all that was left of GOP candidates?

    If we do not investigate this mess now, no future election or our government will ever be safe from fraud.

  8. itsfun March 9, 2017

    The President is trying to keep ISIS terrorists out of our country. This is not a ban on Muslims, it is a ban on terrorism. Do we need another 9/11 to happen before we are allowed to protect our citizens? We have to deal with the world as it is, not as the way some want the world to be. ISIS wants to murder everyone of us. That is their religion. How many more heads need to be chopped off, before we stop them? The Democrats have become the party of obstruction and no. The Democratic leaders would rather see our nation attacked then to be pro-active and stop the terrorists before they get here in great numbers. We finally have a President that is doing what he campaigned on, and was elected to do.

    1. Independent1 March 9, 2017

      How does he keep Isis terrorists out when he bans immigrants from 6 nations from which there have been no terrorist attacks in the past 40 years; while he doesn’t ban immigrants from 6 other nations (because he has bussiness dealings in those nations) which have sent us terrorists that have killed more than 3,000 Americans in multiple attacks during those same 40 years???

      Trumps Muslim ban is a total farce and you know it!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. jayyuma March 12, 2017

        Of course it is – and YOU know it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        That’s why the ‘nations’ he elected to enforce it upon were not a subjective decision, but using the nations defined as supporting terrorism by a well-known (but extremely well-hidden) muslem. If you have infomation about his ‘dealings in those nations’ (the ‘other’ 6), please help sway us.

    2. Sand_Cat March 13, 2017

      Keep trying to convince yourself. Tell us all about your black – and now, Muslim – friends, keep ignoring the facts that those whose business it is to know pointed out that banning refugees and immigrants will likely do nothing to imporve US security, and will undermine it in the long run.
      But then, you’re used to non-stop lies, starting with the one about how you didn’t like Trump when he said openly what you and the rest of the GOP have been working toward for years.

    3. Sand_Cat March 13, 2017

      And Saudi Arabia – one of the greatest supporters of terrorism – somehow missed his list. Oh yeah: he has business interests there.


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