January 30, 2017

With Friends Like Us

By Phillip Carter

On his eighth day in office, President Donald Trump signed an order purporting to keep America safe by keeping terrorists out. In reality, the order does little to keep us safe and probably does immediate harm by handing our enemies another propaganda victory. Worse, in barring all immigrants and visitors from seven countries the Trump administration associates with terrorism, it betrays our ideals and abandons the many thousands of friends in those countries who have supported us during the past 15 years of war in the Middle East. This national door-slam will echo for decades and ultimately undermine our continuing campaign in Iraq and Syria by telegraphing to any potential supporters or allies that American friendship always comes with an asterisk.

In a manipulative bit of political theater, President Trump chose to sign this order at the Pentagon, in front of his vice president and newly installed secretary of defense. The troika chose the Hall of Heroes for their venue—a room that showcases the Medal of Honor, our country’s highest award for valor in combat. That Trump chose this venue shows both his ignorance of the military (at end of fiscal year 2015, 109,321 troops had earned expedited citizenship since 9/11 through military service; more than 20 percent of Medal of Honor recipients have been immigrants) and his intent to corrupt the military in service of his political agenda. Just as Trump dishonored the CIA and its Memorial Wall by attacking the press there last week, so too did he defile the Hall of Heroes and the military with his political event on immigration.

Signing the order in such a place of military honor was a particular slap in the face to the 2.8 million veterans who have served since 9/11 in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theaters of war. In those distant, dangerous places, we relied heavily on local leaders, allies, and interpreters. We recruited hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans to fight alongside us as soldiers, policemen, and interpreters for U.S. military units. These locals, including many I served with, paid a heavy price in blood.

Read the full article at Slate.

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