Foreign Policy

For a Study in Failed Foreign Policy, Look at the Seven Countries in Trump's Refugee Ban

The dissonance between the countries the Trump EO primarily affects and countries associated with 9/11 is embedded in U.S. foreign policy.

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Defense

President Trump's executive order temporarily suspending refugee admissions worldwide and indefinitely suspending refugees from Syria also imposed a temporary ban on any immigrant or nonimmigrant entry from seven "countries of concern," all of which are predominantly Muslim. Combined with a directive to give preference to refugees who are religious minorities, many took to calling the order a Muslim ban.

Some news outlets noted the fact that the seven countries primarily affected by the order—Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen—did not have business ties with the Trump Organization, with the New York Daily News calling it conspicuous and pointing out no Americans were killed by nationals of those countries while thousands were killed by nationals of Saudi Arabia, which is not one of the countries of concern but where the Trump Organization does do business. The Daily News said it raised "alarming questions" about how the decision was made.

The list, however, is not of Trump's making. The dissonance between the countries of concerns and the countries from where major terrorists and terrorism ideologies originate is embedded in US foreign policy. The list comes from a 2015 immigration law that designated those countries as "countries of concern" which required additional visa scrutiny, and exempted from visa waivers dual nationals from those countries who also held passports from countries the U.S. did not require a visa.

Of those seven countries, all but Iran have been the target of some kind of military action in the last twenty years.

The Obama administration committed the U.S. military to intervention in Libya's civil war in 2011, helping to depose Col. Moammar Qaddafi and plunging the country into chaos. Today, a number of terrorist groups, including ISIS, operate in Libya when they did not exist in the country before 2011. Between 2011 and 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, the U.S. accepted just seven refugees from Libya. There's no indication that changed in 2016. U.S. troops returned to Libya last year to join the campaign against ISIS.

Trump becomes the fifth consecutive U.S. president to preside over military operations in Iraq. While Ronald Reagan helped arm Iraq during its decade-long war with Iran, his successor George H.W. Bush led an international coalition against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. Bill Clinton spent his administration bombing Iraq on-and-off, as well as maintaining sanctions estimated to have killed more than half a million children by 1995. In 1998, Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, which made it official U.S. policy to support regime change in Iraq. After 9/11, George W. Bush set his administration's sights on Iraq, eventually invading the country in 2003 over weapons of mass destruction that were not found. Weak connections to 9/11 promoted in the run up to the war totally fell apart after. In 2008, the Bush administration negotiated a status of forces agreement to end the Iraq war. After trying and failing to renegotiate that agreement, Barack Obama withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. He took credit for the move during his 2012 re-election campaign, but when ISIS emerged as a major force in Iraq, he backtracked, insisting it was not his decision. Eventually, U.S. troops returned to Iraq under Obama, in a campaign against ISIS that never received specific congressional authorization. They remain there today, although U.S. operations in Iraq will be complicated by a travel ban the Iraqi government imposed on U.S. citizens in retaliation for Trump's order. Both exempt diplomatic and government travel.

Trump himself pointed to a 2011 review of refugee admissions from Iraq as precedent for his actions, although the 2011 move did not keep legal permanent residents from entering or leaving the United States. Nevertheless, critics in Congress challenged the Obama administration, expressing concern about leaving Iraqis who collaborated with the U.S. military behind as the U.S. withdrew forces from Iraq. A number of such people were caught in transit to the U.S. when Trump's executive order went into effect.

Iran is the only of the seven countries not to have faced U.S. military action in the last twenty years, although not for lack of interest by warmongers in the U.S. In the mid-2000s, the Bush administration appeared interested in pushing for war. In 2008, John McCain sang "bomb Iran" on the campaign trail. And even as Obama participated in negotiations over Iran's alleged nuclear program (according to U.S. intelligence Iran has been months way from a nuclear bomb since 2000), his administration included travels from Iran as among those deserving of extra scrutiny, undermining the notion that the U.S.'s beef is with the Iranian government not the Iranian people, as government officials regularly insist.

Of the seven "countries of concern," the U.S. accepts the most refugees from Somalia, a country into which the U.S. sent troops in support of a United Nations peacekeeping effort in 1993 after the government of Siad Barre, a tin-pot dictator who turned to the Soviet Union and then to the United States for aid during the Cold War, collapsed. The last year that the U.S. accepted more Muslim refugees than Christian refugees was in 2006, when it began to accept larger numbers of Somalis. Around that time, the U.S. also ramped up its involvement in Somalia, assisting in an invasion by Ethiopian forces to overthrow the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which had begun to impose its order on Somalia. After this invasion, the youth wing of the ICU broke off in disgust and became what is known today as Al-Shabaab. Throughout, the U.S. has used airstrikes to hit alleged terrorists, many of whom the government can't even identify.

The most recent public U.S. military action in Sudan was the 1998 missile strike on a pharmaceutical factory it said was tied to Al-Qaeda—the Sudanese government and the owner of the factory disputed this assertion and the government never produced compelling evidence for its claims. In recent years, the U.S. has been a major supporter of independence for South Sudan, which became the world's newest country in 2011. It descended into civil war after that. In 2015, the U.S. accepted 1,578 refugees from Sudan and 79 from South Sudan.

The U.S. has spent several years arming various rebel groups in Syria it insists are "moderates," and insisting a solution to the Syrian civil war required Bashar Assad to step down as president. The U.S. accepted 66 refugees from Syria between 2007 and 2010, the year the civil war and subsequent refugee crisis started. But the U.S. did not begin to accept significant numbers of refugees from Syria until very recently, despite being involved in the civil war and arguably contributing to its destabilization. In 2016 the U.S. dropped more bombs on Syria than on any other country. But between 2011 and 2014, the U.S. accepted just 201 refugees from Syria. In 2015, it accepted 1,682 and in 2016, after significant international and domestic political pressure, the U.S. accepted about 10,000.

And then there's Yemen, the location where the U.S. killed its first citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in a drone strike after accusing him of being a terrorist leader, and later killed his teenaged son in another strike. This weekend, the U.S. launched its first ground counter-terrorism operation in Yemen since December 2014. A U.S. commando was among the dead, according to the U.S. military, and according to local reports al-Awlaki's 8-year-old daughter was also killed. It is the first U.S. counterterrorism operation (aside from airstrikes) since the country descended into civil war in 2015. Before that, the Obama administration touted Yemen as an example of a model U.S. counterterrorism campaign, limited involvement and low risk. But many U.S. targets were fed to the U.S. by the authoritarian government in Yemen, the one that was overthrown in 2015. While the U.S. is not directly involved in the civil war, it provides arms to Saudi Arabia, which is fighting in Yemen to re-establish the U.S.-backed government. An effort by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) late last year to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, after a series of controversial bombings including of a hospital, failed in the Senate. Despite contributing to the destabilization of Yemen, the U.S. has not accepted many refugees from the country. It took in just 16 in 2015. Yemen was not mentioned a single time at any of last year's presidential debates, nor were either candidates asked about Yemen by any of the press that followed them around the country for more than a year.

The "countries of concern" primarily affected by Trump's travel ban have little to do with the attacks of 9/11 that sparked the war on terror. Yet in many of them, the U.S. military operates under the auspices of the post-9/11 authorization of the use of military force (AUMF). Congress has never revisited this AUMF, which received only one no vote, from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). The Congress played a crucial role in formulating the list of "countries of concern" Trump used in his executive order, while their abdication of war-making powers has permitted the executive branch to wage a war on terror across the entire Muslim world, stoking just the kinds of fears exploited by Trump on the campaign trail and in his executive order.

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  1. “Some news outlets noted the fact that the seven countries primarily affected by the order?Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen?did not have business ties with the Trump Organization, with the New York Daily News calling it conspicuous and pointing out no Americans were killed by nationals of those countries while thousands were killed by nationals of Saudi Arabia, which is not one of the countries of concern but where the Trump Organization does do business.”

    I’m very skeptical of this being a factor in what Trump did. Now if you were to tell me that the Saudi’s didn’t get the same treatment because they control a lot of the world’s oil and we’ve had close ties to them for a long time, I might believe that.

    1. You might want to keep reading, then.

      LOL

      1. You actually read all of these articles?

        LOL

    2. Maybe a lot of readers think this lack of business is commendable. Can one imagine the shit-storm if it was revealed during the campaign that Trump did do business in any of these countries? “These ties to terrorist nations are deplorable,” said candidate Clinton.

    3. Yeah, what all of these countries have in common is that they have all been under crushing sanctions during the past 20 years, so really there are no businesses in america that have investments in these countries.

      Everyone with any mideast investments have investments in countries that fall outside these 7 because that is where you were allowed to invest.

      I think this says less about trump’s interests and more about following the same mindset on who needs to be punished as every previous leader in the past 20 years.

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  2. imposed a temporary ban on any immigrant or nonimmigrant entry from seven “countries of concern,” all of which are predominantly Muslim.

    “Oh, very well. No one gets in from North Korea, either.”

    1. Have you ever heard of a Korean blowing stuff up? Most of the escaped Koreans just embellish the hell out of their story and write a book.

  3. Excellent article, especially the conclusion about how the AUMF needs to be revisited. At least put a sunset clause in the damn thing!

    That having been said, I suspect that some of these countries might have made the list regardless of U.S. military action. Somalia would be a basket case even if we’d never engaged them militarily. Likewise, Sudan would be a mess because of Darfur and South Sudan–regardless of whether we’d targeted that pharmaceutical factory. Libya would be mess because of the Arab Spring, even if we’d never participated in the Libyan revolution.

    Because we’re so spread out all over the world, we can be associated with everything that happens in the world, but not everything that happens in the world is a direct consequence of U.S. foreign policy.

    In some ways, this is like the observation that because everything we do or don’t do has a negative impact on somebody, we can’t do anything. Yeah, growing wheat on your own property for your own consumption has a negative impact on somebody–but that shouldn’t stop us from doing what we think is in our own best interests. It’s like that with foreign policy, too.

    1. At least put a sunset clause in the damn thing!

      That clause should be in every law.

      1. If the legislature were stuck constantly renewing the bans on murder, kidnapping and fraud, they might not have the time to mess with us.

        1. Plus we might a scenario every once in a while like those purge movies.

      2. You anarchist rat bagger!, we can’t do without any of these millions of laws, it would be chaos!

      3. On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished then in their natural course with those who gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years.

        Jefferson to Madison, Sept. 6, 1789

        Whole thing here: http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu…..h2s23.html

        1. Those old white slaveholders didn’t realize that full adulthood doesn’t come until age 27.

    2. You keep saying “we” like I had something to do with these policies.

      1. “This is like the observation that because everything we do or don’t do has a negative impact on somebody, we can’t do anything. Yeah, growing wheat on your own property for your own consumption has a negative impact on somebody–but that shouldn’t stop us from doing what we think is in our own best interests.”

        In that case, “we” assumed you were a human being. Was I being presumptuous?

      2. Government is just a name for the things we choose to do together. By golly, I’m getting some good mileage out of that little gem this week.

    3. True, but that doesn’t necessarily invalidate criticism the US gets for participating in those areas. Just ’cause it’s a clusterfuck doesn’t mean it needs to be one the US is involved in. What sensible person would go “Oh look at that disaster over there!! I just ~gotta~ get in on that!!”

    4. You don’t seem to understand or Rembrandt that Somalia chose to stateless after the fall of Sid Bair. The had a flourishing little stateless state for a few years . Too bad something happened to it.

      1. Oh, I completely Rembrandt. And I couldn’t Caravaggio less.

    5. Libya would still be under the control of its former dictator had we not intervened.

  4. Iran is the only of the seven countries not to have faced U.S. military action in the last twenty years, although not for lack of interest by warmongers in the U.S. In the mid-2000s, the Bush administration appeared interested in pushing for war.

    Even this assumes a bit of a distinction between ‘acts of aggression’ and ‘military action’. At least, if the Russians hacked our election, we rather unequivocally attacked Iran’s nuclear program.

    Not to say that I disagree with what was done, just that sabotaging their energy program and enforcing sanctions can be just as disastrous and radicalizing as missile strikes on pharmaceutical factories. Especially if the country in question is developing a nuclear energy-only policy or if you could readily provide/support their development a nuclear technology that couldn’t be ‘proliferated’.

  5. This Trump guy? I’m starting to like the cut of his jib.

    “Trump mocks Schumer for crying during speech protesting his immigration ban”

    Sorry, no link. It’s after 1:00 and I’ve got a cocktail to make.

    1. BTW, the headline is from Yahoo news.

      1. That’s digging pretty deep into the garbage pit.

        1. “I noticed Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears,” Trump said before a meeting with small-business leaders at the White House on Monday morning. “I’m going to ask him who was his acting coach. Because I know him very well and I don’t see him as a crier. If he is, he’s a different man.”

          Schumer broke down in tears on Sunday as he announced that Democrats are considering legislation to overturn Trump’s order, which bars people from seven countries ? Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Somalia ? from entering the United States for 90 days.

          “This executive order was mean-spirited and un-American,” Schumer said at a press conference in New York City, where he was surrounded by families affected by the ban. “It was implemented in a way that created chaos and confusion across the country, and it will only serve to embolden and inspire those around the globe who will do us harm.”

          I am NOT a fan of Trump, and I’ve called him a buffoon from day one, but GOD IN HEAVEN am I sick of being told that fighting terrorism actually “emboldens” terrorists to attack and to recruit.

    2. Schumer should be mocked mercilessly non-stop, so I don’t have any issue with Trump joining in.

    3. Mocking the mentally disabled is mean!

    4. I am not liking what Trump is doing. but Schumer asked for it with that shameless pandering.

  6. Oh, I say, Krayewski! Really fine work!

  7. Ed always bringin’ the quality alt text

  8. President of the United States Donald Trump!

    HaHaHaww!!

  9. Of those seven countries, all but Iran have been the target of some kind of military action in the last twenty years.
    Why is it that Iran wants nukes again?

    1. I have no idea, I mean it hasn’t stopped the USA from bombing every other country that has nukes.

      /sarc

    2. So they can persecute us for our exceptionalism. Haters.

      1. I’m trying to remember if it was an Ayatollah or an Iranian President who said this, but there was a rather vivid quote that they were willing to see Iran burned off the map if it would advance the cause of Islam elsewhere.

        This is a faith whose adherents have embraced suicide bombing of civillian targets as an acceptable and celebration worthy cause. I don’t doubt that Iran intends to use nuclear arms offensively should they manage to acquire them.

        1. That seems like a legitimate concern. After all, politicians have never been known to employ exaggerated religious rhetoric in pursuit of power and popular support.

          1. And when you look at their actions, “Death to America, Death to Israel” isn’t just a fancy slogan they chant at all their rallies.

        2. I think the Iranian version of apocalyptic thinking stems from Twelver Shia beliefs which are a sub-set of Islam.

  10. OT: several of my prog friends were railing against the Mexico border tax (leftists against taxes??? Wha?)

    I wonder if they’re gonna change their tune now that the Kochtopus has come out publicly to resist the tax?

    1. “You mean the tax would actually be paid for by Americans? Huh. Huh. Well… I guess I’m still against it because Trump wants to do it.”

    2. Just tell them if they’d start paying their fair share, we wouldn’t need that Mexican border tax. If we’d just increase their payroll tax from around 20% to 90%, we’d be a good country like Norway or Sweden.

      1. “I wanted the poor to have health insurance, but I didn’t think I’d have to pay for it personally!”

  11. David Post over at Volokh went full retard, calling the executive order an impeachable offense for the very reason that the ban did not affect the countries where Trump does business.

    A. The evidence is far flimsier than Clinton’s impeachment, which at least involved a verifiable fact, that of committing perjury, even if it was a petty and vindicitive waste of time.

    B. Trump is a businessman; I bet just about every executive order and everything he does could be found suspicious in terms of where he does business, if one wanted to cherry pick.

    C. Trump campaigned on a Muslim ban, and no matter how stupid this executive order is or how stupid the campaign promise was, it shouldn’t surprise anybody, unlike Clinton’s blowjobs.

    I never thought much of David Post one way or the other, but now he’s shown himself to be a hysterical whiny bitchlet.

    1. As far as I can tell, Tesla has no presence in those countries, either.

      How do we know that Elon Musk isn’t behind this nefarious plan??

      1. TRUMP BANS MUSLIMS FROM SPACE

    2. That is pathetic, especially since the list of countries wasn’t invented by Trump for the EO.

    3. “Trump is a businessman; I bet just about every executive order and everything he does could be found suspicious in terms of where he does business, if one wanted to cherry pick.”

      … challenge accepted.

      “Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Jan. 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion, in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country ? and to renew the duties of government to the people.”

      Clearly this was an attempt to flatter Americans by talking about and exaggerating their positive aspects. Trump does most of his business in America, after all, and thus this an attempt to please his American consumers and thus placate his business interests.

      Yeah, you appear to be correct.

  12. I’m on my way to the airport to stage my own protest against this latest of Worst Historical Atrocities Ever Committed By Human Beings that the US government is perpetrating. Help me pick a chant:

    “LET THE ASIANS IN
    LET THE ASIANS IN
    WE NEED A NEW
    SECOND CLASS OF CITIZEN”

    “LET THE ASIANS IN
    LET THE ASIANS IN
    WE DON’T WANT OUR MONEY
    TOUCHED BY
    BLACK AMERICANS”

    “LET THE ASIANS IN
    LET THE ASIANS IN
    WE WANT CHEAP LABOR
    NOT EMPLOYED AMERICANS”

  13. The dissonance between the countries of concerns and the countries from where major terrorists and terrorism ideologies originate is embedded in US foreign policy.

    Nice to see someone acknowledging that. Now if someone could figure out what to do about it.

  14. You mean the “7 countries of concern” for terrorism are also 7 countries that our foreign policy TOP MEN have spent the last 20+ years doing their level ass best to turn into gigantic clusterfucks? And we’re surprised that a lot of people from those countries hate us?

  15. The 9/11 incident and the business interests are red herrings. Why do they insist to keep throwing these out there?

    The countries except Iran are highly unstable, poorly organized and there is no way to discern who the folks really are and large concentrations of ISIS. Plus we have not good to no diplomatic relations with them….as mentioned before they are under sanctions and there isn’t really business interests in the first place.

    Saudi Arabia is not a good place but i suspect they have a much better handle on who is in their country than somalia

    I suspect this was due to: the bill in late 2015 passed by congress for visa waiver and some countries were added. This appears to be more geared towards what is happening in Europe vs what happened in US 15 years ago.

  16. RE: For a Study in Failed Foreign Policy, Look at the Seven Countries in Trump’s Refugee Ban
    The dissonance between the countries the Trump EO primarily affects and countries associated with 9/11 is embedded in U.S. foreign policy.

    As I stated in a previous post today, the majority of these people are leaving because of economic, political, social oppression or a war time environment. Many of these immigrants will be appreciative of the peace and freedom (what’s left of it in this country) the USA offers them. Most of them will become good capitalists and scorn the asinine beliefs the sociaists put forth to them because these immigrants have seen firsthand how oppressive socialism, war and other oppressive measures are like. Put yourself in their shoes, and you would understand why the majority of them want to come to this country and what it has to offer.

    1. Most of them will become good capitalists and scorn the asinine beliefs the sociaists put forth to them because these immigrants have seen firsthand how oppressive socialism, war and other oppressive measures are like

      The same argument should apply to inner city blacks, yet they keep voting for the same policies that failed them. Ditto for immigrants from European welfare states. Or for people moving from blue to red states.

      The sad fact is that people who come from socialist, totalitarian, or fascist regimes don’t just leave that intellectual baggage behind. Many of them believe “except for ___, socialism/fascism would have been pretty good”. Many others might pay lip service to liberty but end up still acting like supporters of totalitarianism because they simply don’t know any better.

  17. This is what an adult piece about the ‘Muslim ban’ is supposed to look like.

    Enjoyed the overview. One in which most of us kinda already knew but needed nonetheless.

  18. “The dissonance between the countries the Trump EO primarily affects and countries associated with 9/11 is embedded in U.S. foreign policy.”

    9/11 was 15+ years ago. What’s it got to do with the location/concentration of today’s jihadist douchebags?

  19. The issue of the AUMF and 9/11 is real (if irrelevant because Congress obviously does not remotely care at all).

    But it has nothing to do with the immigration ban, does it?

    (The obvious connection banned countries have is “active terror insurgencies or major ISIS-ish presence, or straight hostile [Iran]”, while the un-banned ones are “major US allies or without significant radicalization violence”.

    But all I’ve seen from Facebook – because everyone I know is a Progressive – is “it’s because his moneys!!”)

    1. (Do not take the above noticing the obvious justification as endorsement of the policy; blanket bans are prima facie stupid.

      But that’s another issue, one of actual merits, which is something rarely discussed lately.)

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  21. Some news outlets noted the fact that the seven countries primarily affected by the order?Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen?did not have business ties with the Trump Organization, with the New York Daily News calling it conspicuous and pointing out no Americans were killed by nationals of those countries while thousands were killed by nationals of Saudi Arabia, which is not one of the countries of concern but where the Trump Organization does do business. The Daily News said it raised “alarming questions” about how the decision was made.
    ????? ?? ??
    ????? ????
    The list, however, is not of Trump’s making. The dissonance between the countries of concerns and the countries from where major terrorists and terrorism ideologies originate is embedded in US foreign policy. The list comes from a 2015 immigration law that designated those countries as “countries of concern” which required additional visa scrutiny, and exempted from visa waivers dual nationals from those countries who also held passports from countries the U.S. did not require a visa.

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