For U.S.-supported Afghan government security forces trying to contain an expanding ISIS footprint, American presidential contender Donald Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States probably could not come at a worse time. The Afghan government is still fighting a counterinsurgency, furthermore, and winning hearts and minds away from the Taliban will be an even more daunting task if Afghans think their government is in league with a nation that despises Muslims.
ISIS leaders from Syria to Afghanistan, on the other hand, are probably grateful to Mr. Trump for assisting with recruiting efforts and making Islamic extremism seem more attractive by the day. On Tuesday, the head of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Joseph Campbell told AP that ISIS supporters are trying to establish a “regional base” in Jalalabad while Islamic State influence has spread to every province. In short, Trump’s statements can only help the radicals in building off this momentum.
And, lest Mr. Trump forgets, in harm’s way in Afghanistan are roughly 9,800 American military personnel trying to aid and assist Afghan security forces, who do not need Trump aiding and abetting the enemy with his loud demagogic mouth. The security environment actually deteriorated in the second half of 2015 in Afghanistan, according to a new Pentagon report, again signaling that now is not the time for anti-Muslim proposals that can only serve to destabilize the situation further.
America’s reputation in Afghanistan has taken a quite a bruising lately, with Trump’s comments coming in the wake of a U.S. attack on a hospital in Kunduz that massacred at least 30 innocent people, in one of the biggest cases of civilian deaths since the war began. The unleashing of the Trump Immigration Doctrine is yet another public relations nightmare that fits nicely into the narrative painted by Taliban and ISIS propaganda, thereby hindering counterinsurgency efforts. Point being, silencing Trump is not only about upholding American values – it has become a national security imperative.
This stunt by Trump resembles the way American intolerance and bigotry were on full display in 2010 when U.S. political leaders tried to prevent the construction of a Muslim community center in New York City, wherein they equated the religion of Islam with Nazism.
A poll conducted of men in Kandahar at the time found that three fourths of respondents believed that the U.S. was in Afghanistan to occupy their country and to destroy Islam – a sentiment that likely spiked after the anti-ground zero mosque hate speech went global. One can only wonder what polling would reveal today.
Trump’s comments were a slap in the face to all Muslims around the world, to be sure, but especially those in Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of people have died in the name of America’s “war on terror.”
Afghan native Khalil Nouri, a Muslim who has lived in the United States for decades, recommends that Trump repent, experience the real Islam up front and center and hone radical vetting skills.
“I believe Donald Trump should go to a mosque, not only apologize for his comment but pray with the crowd of Muslims,” Nouri said last week. “This is how he can separate the bad Muslims from good ones.”
Per Trump’s grand vision, Afghan leaders like Ashraf Ghani purportedly would not be allowed entry into the United States, not to mention Afghan heroes who have gone to great lengths to counter radicalism.
CNN’s Jake Tapper exposed the absurdity of the tycoon and former television star’s anti-Muslim proposal by asking if two Muslim women from Afghanistan, the country’s first female pilot Niloofar Rahmani and courageous feminist Kubra Khademi, should not be allowed into the United States even though they “do more to combat Islamic extremism” than monsieur Trump.
And what is going to stop the Trump crowd from extending this logic even further? If Muslims are the problem than preventing them entry into the United States is only half the battle. Why not modify his immigration policy vis-à-vis Mexico and round up all Muslims in America – be they legal or illegal – and deport them? If they resist, internment camps are always an option and one with precedence in American history. We could build bigger, better Guantanamo-like facilities to detain the more recalcitrant Muslims, the only question left would be where to put them.
The San Bernardino, California shootings were inexcusable tragedies but Americans need to keep things in perspective. Since 9/11, white supremacists have killed more people in the United States than Islamic radicals have, but those facts Trump doesn’t seem to have handy when developing his devoid-of-all-logic inflammatory policies that pander to a racist and bigoted segment of society, one much larger than imaginable based on Trump’s frontrunner status.
Finally, for even more perspective, consider that fourteen people killed in a terrorist attack – which, while tragic, forced U.S. political leaders to galactically overreact – is a casualty rate that often makes for a slow news day in many parts of Afghanistan. Not to mention that scores of innocent Muslims die every day around the world at the hands of violent Islamic radicals, who make up a miniscule percentage of the entire population. In fact, rather than cheer after 9/11, as Trump has ridiculously claimed, a Gallup poll reported that 93% of Muslims worldwide condemned the attacks. Then again, perspective – and common sense – have never been The Donald’s strong suits.