January 28, 2017

Anti-terrorist ban targets weak countries first, then strong ones

Why is terrorist hotbed Saudi Arabia being exempted from the travel ban, while relatively safer countries like Iran are included?

If you look at it from an engineering standpoint, it looks backwards. The ban ought to apply more forcefully to countries that pose a higher risk.

But in the real world, we can't just wave a magic wand and immediately ban Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey, which have wealthy, powerful lobbies in our own country who have compromised key figures at the national level (John McCain being the most egregious example -- the Saudis only love Crooked Hillary Clinton more).

Trump is a pragmatist dealing with real-world relationships, so first he's going after the countries that have no way of retaliating against us, and which do not have powerful lobbies for defense. Failed or anarchic states like Libya, Iraq, Somalia, etc.

Who knows how long it will take to get around to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but based on how swiftly the Trump team has been moving since before the inauguration, we should not expect them to keep kicking the can down the road.

Notice that he did not include peaceful states like Jordan and Lebanon, let alone more powerful allies like Egypt, with whose leader he's struck up a good relationship.

He could also be using the ban on visas from peaceful Iran as more of a negotiating tactic, since he's long promised to re-negotiate the Iranian nuclear deal, or at least show them that they can't taunt us and seize our sailors without any consequences.

You should only address the need to move from weaker to stronger terrorist-prone countries with those who are arguing in good faith about "Why Trump's ban gets the risks backwards". Michael Tracey types. If it's just an idiot trying to play gotcha games, then just ridicule them by saying, in a whiny voice, "Anyone who doesn't wanna get blown up by terrorists is an Islamophobe!"

In general, we will see the pragmatic Trump administration begin with what is easy to solve, and progress toward harder tasks later. Hence deporting the violent criminal illegals first, and getting around to DACA illegals afterward.

Some have said that Trump has come out all guns a-blazing on multiple fronts, but they have all been easy tasks to go after -- repeal disastrous Obamacare, deport violent illegals, de-fund sanctuary cities, ban travel from anarchic Middle Eastern countries that can't fight back, and so on.

As the tasks get harder and harder, we probably won't see such a multi-front war against Establishment lunacy. Banning travel from Saudi Arabia will be easier if Trump and his supporters have more time to build up the revelation about their role in 9/11, Salafism (still not a common word for the American public), and so on. More details could come out from the 9/11 Congressional report.

Then after we knock that one out, we can move on to another difficult task, like birthright citizenship, which will also take awhile for the administration and its supporters to build the case against it (not desirable, not in Constitution), and how outta-whack it has made the country.

Trump may not need "political capital" since he did not get into office thanks to politicians. But he does need voter capital, and voters are only already aware of so many problems, and already howling for solutions to so many of them. Trump will not have to schmooze and woo politicians, but he will have to inform the general public on the role Saudi Arabia plays in spreading radical Islam, the absence of birthright citizenship in the Constitution -- indeed, in any other country's laws -- and the like.

The good news is that Trump is the world's most expert explainer to a general audience, so at worst the pace slows from a major win every day to every week or month. Still plenty of time to deliver on the campaign promises, and more.

I'm not a believer in 50-dimensional chess theory whenever something appears to be going the wrong way. That's Panglossian wishful thinking. In Trump's case, though, it may simply mean that he's putting the easy tasks first and tough tasks later. I don't want to hear any 50-D chess explanations about why Saudi Arabia should not be on the travel ban list -- it's just dealing with our problems in increasing levels of difficulty.


  1. Random Dude on the Internet1/28/17, 7:39 PM

    Trump's first week in office has been probably the most effective in Presidential history. Maybe FDR's was more effective but I haven't done the research. I'm fine with him aiming for the low hanging fruit first and the bigger issues later as long as he keeps cranking out the orders like he has been the first week. It's been a tremendous week and hopefully sets the tone for the remaining 7 years and 51 weeks in office.

  2. Thanks, Ag! I assumed that was mostly going on, but worried about Iran. They aren't crazy and have a powerful ally in Russia.

    Do you think Trump anticipated the puritanical left pushback? Do you think he cares? My guess is he probably did not, but he also doesn't care too much. Trump strikes me as someone who is eminently commonsensical and would have trouble understanding ideologues.

  3. Trump made a nice and concise comeback about Madonna -- "she's disgusting". They can't have it both ways, sanctimoniously sermonizing about Donald Trump's problematically crude tone, and then spew the foulest gross-out language.

  4. Perhaps Trump is ignoring Saudi Arabia in order to make his enemies notice that, and demand their inclusion -- "After all, they killed all those people on 9/11 (oops, not supposed to remind the sheeple about that), yet Yemen has killed 0. So, fact-check, this policy gets it completely backwards!"

    "Oh, is that so? Gee, now that you mention it, Saudi Arabia does deserve the ban more than Yemen. Consider their travel banned as well :Trumpsmirk: "

    I raise the possibility because it's not just the charitable / sympathetic people like Michael Tracey or Nassim Taleb who are talking about the lack of Saudi ban. On Facebook I just saw it spread around the shrieking Trump haters, too.

    If it were just the charitable people saying this, Trump could not turn the statement against them, since they're not his enemies. But if the enemies are shrieking about it, then he can give them what they're asking for and ban the Gulf states!

  5. It's also pathetic that the ban haters are trying to frame the discussion about which people have "killed" Americans -- like it doesn't count if they merely hospitalize them after running them over, or cut off their arm with a machete, or blow up a building with no one in it, or...

    Reminder about the history of Somali terrorism just within the city of Columbus, OH over the past 10-15 years:


    Again the media and the Left are too stupid and contemptuous of the public to realize that normal people don't draw the line at murder, but include all kinds of other disruptions that hostile immigrants cause when they come here en masse.

    In yet another case, they're making themselves look totally dishonest and suicidal in front of middle America, who they still don't understand was necessary for their victories from Clinton to Obama.

  6. Apparently the 7 countries Trump banned are the same countries Obama removed from the Visa Waiver Program last year.

    There's a good chance Trump chose the same 7 to troll the Left and the Media.

  7. The 9/11 hijackers were led by an Egyptian. There were also hijackers from the UAE, which was excluded from the ban. I don't buy any of this political pragmatism angle. When he's doing something by executive order, he doesn't need to overcome a lobby influencing congresscritters. Trump is excluding countries he has business interests with. So points for Somalia (a source of people who don't even know how to use doorknobs), but I don't see this as making the country significantly safer. I do wonder how he could go about excluding Chechens, as I don't imagine all of Russia being added to the list.

    If it were me, I wouldn't be including Iran. They're aligned against ISIS in Syria, and while they seized our embassy under Khomeini they've been targeting Israel instead of us since then. Iran seems to have more authority over the Shia side in the regional civil war than any Sunni government does, so the Egyptian government being anti-Islamist at the moment is not terribly reassuring.

  8. "Trump is excluding countries he has business interests with."

    Dumb. Reduces to which ones are wealthy, powerful, and represented by lobbies in the US. Unless you think Trump would've wanted to build a luxury hotel in Iraq rather than Dubai.

    "I don't see this as making the country significantly safer."

    Also dumb. These regions are compromised by ISIS / Al-Qaeda / Al-Nusra / Etc., who have promised to infiltrate the refugee flows. These are also where refugees are coming from, not Dubai or Saudi Arabia.

    That's just the first generation. Second generation will be bitter, maladjusted, and prone to striking out at American society. And it only gets worse as they grow larger in size.

    Obviously this makes Americans and America safer, especially over the long term.

  9. Trump has no business ties to Pakistan, who is excluded from the ban, despite being a major exporter of terrorism and radical Islam -- including to America -- and who also harbored Bin Laden while pretending to be our allies.

    But Pakistan is powerful, wealthy, has a strong lobby, and has the nuclear bomb. Hence, a tougher nut to crack than Iraq.

    Kneejerk leftists had better get a more convincing narrative than "Trump's policies led by his business interests," especially after he's given up control and is too busy Making America Great Again to plan out how his policies would influence his businesses. Too many businesses in too many countries, affected in too many ways by too many policies -- no time to figure it out.

  10. Like everyone else who got the election completely wrong, you haven't learned any lessons from it. If Trump's concern for how his political performance would affect his businesses, he would never have run in the first place. Look at how many wealthy and powerful people, and entire countries, severed ties with him during the primary and general election phases. With damn few people stepping in to make up for the losses.

    He ran against the overfed Establishment, championed the forgotten little guy, and so on -- not exactly the way to enhance the value of a luxury brand.

    Completely the opposite happened of your lame bitter narrative, crudely thrown together to reduce cognitive dissonance from getting everything wrong. Trump did not let his business interests over-ride his political behavior -- he sacrificed a yuge amount of his own money, foregone deals, burned bridges, and lowered brand value, in order to better the working and middle classes of this country.

    Everybody except leftists understand this, even if they don't articulate it consciously. So when they hear something as backwards as what you said, they tune you out all the more instantly.

    Your side will have absolutely no connection with normal Americans for the short-to-medium term. I'd like to give helpful suggestions, but you've clearly joined the loony bin. Every pathetic stereotype of losing Republicans over the past generation is now going to apply to Democrats, and they won't be able to help it or change any more than the Republicans were during the cuckservative era.

  11. Pakistan isn't on the list, nor is Afghanistan or Bangladesh, nor any countries east of Iran. It was just Middle Eastern/North African countries (even though, as you know, America has been attacked by Muslims from other regions). And the order is not just about refugees, but any entry, which would cover people like the 9/11 hijackers. In order to crack the metaphorical nut, Trump just had to put pen to paper, but he didn't.

    "These regions are compromised by ISIS / Al-Qaeda / Al-Nusra / Etc"

    I speculated on the feasibility of stopping the entry of Chechens since it's part of Russia, but I forgot one of the Boston Bombers was actually born in Kyrgyzstan, a majority-Muslim country which isn't on the list (who can forget the mighty Kyrgyzstan lobby?). I also forgot that one of the 9/11 hijackers was from "peaceful" Lebanon.

    You keep saying "leftist", but I'm in favor of immigration restrictions as the most sensible response to terrorism. My problem is with Trump leaving off countries that were the actual sources of terrorists. Until he does that, I regard this as theater rather than an actual attempt to protect the country.

  12. Get your head out of your ass. Each Muslim country that Trump bans protects the country, whether or not it's an "actual attempt to" (meaningless).

  13. "I regard this as theater rather than an actual attempt to protect the country."

    Even though we know these countries have Islamic terrorists running all over the place, who have promised to infiltrate the refugee / immigration flows.

    You're trying to get the autistic engineering part of your brain to fixate on the idea that the ban should reflect the risk per capita of an immigrant from each country.

    It should also reflect the size of the immigrating population from that country.

    Saudi Arabia is more terrorist prone than Syria, but Saudi Arabia is sending almost no immigrants compared to Syria.

    We care about the expected number of terrorists coming into the country. Risk per person isn't dramatically different between Saudi Arabia and Syria (esp after being compromised by ISIS / Al-Qaeda), yet size of immigrating population differs by orders of magnitude since 2015.

    So, more potential terrorists would enter via Syria than Saudi Arabia.

  14. I guess we're also supposed to not-learn from the example of Syrians flowing into Europe -- they've certainly made it a safer, more pleasant, and non-theocratic place for the native citizens.

    But since no Syrian has blown up a building on US soil killing thousands of people, we have to ignore the canary in the coalmine of Syrians flowing into Europe before our very eyes.

  15. When did I say anything about per capita risk? I never adjusted for the population of Saudi Arabia. The total number of terrorists from there and the casualties resulting speak for themselves.

    Not letting in a flood of refugees just because they claim to be from a warzone is a good idea. Canada's policy of limiting their intake to women & children is one way of filtering out the disproportionately working-age males who fit the profile of economic migrants (as well as terrorists or just more mundane thugs). The recent modification (which Ted Cruz advocated earlier) of treating religious minorities differently is another way to do filter. People are now claiming that makes it an unconstitutional "Muslim ban", which of course it isn't because Trump hasn't done anything about a number of Muslim countries (which as mentioned produced the terrorists who've actually killed Americans). A rational basis could be argued in court IF targeted places were selected on the basis of risk, but as even you acknowledge in this post, they don't. This sort of ad-hoc approach both makes the policy less effective, and makes it less likely to survive legal challenge, possibly creating precedent which will prevent this approach from being taken in the future. Given the modifications which have already occurred in the wake of the initial announcement, it appears Trump just didn't think it through or listen to anyone knowledgeable enough to craft a viable version of the policy.

  16. No, it means he wanted to prepare for an argument from precedent -- by the opposing party's leader -- since that works better than rational debate about risk.

    "Risk schmisk, whadda I know? All I know is, Obama identified these countries as needing travel restrictions, and we're finally delivering on them -- big-league."

  17. Letting in a flood of "refugees" from the opposite side of the planet is just a stupid idea, period. Trump has already started making overtures towards setting up safe zones in Syria to house the refugees, and any who can't go there should go to nearby safe Muslim countries. America has to get past the idea that we are the toilet of the world, that every war-torn 3rd-world shithole can dump all their undesirables into.

    As for the "Trump has made some modifications to the EO, therefore it's a mess" narrative, fuck off. He took bold action quickly, then made a couple tweaks as needed. Despite the desperate media attempt to claim this is some kind of crisis, everything is running smoothly. I hope we continue to see this kind of decisiveness and aggression from him, because these are the things the right has been lacking for decades.

  18. America also has to get past the idea that if a past American government screwed somebody over (Guatemala, Yemen), somehow that entitles the citizens of that country to immigrate here as the form of making amends.

    Say you run over someone's pet -- or child -- does that give them the right to live in your house, bringing along their kin as well? No, it means you make amends some sane way.


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