Meandering Toward Insanity

On Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants, Mattis said that such talk prompts U.S. allies to think “we have lost faith in reason.”

“They think we’ve completely lost it," he said. "This kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through this international system."

The general has also espoused some views that break with the majority of his fellow military leaders. He has expressed reservations about allowing women to serve in combat, telling the Marines' Memorial Club in San Francisco that "the idea of putting women in there is not setting them up for success." He has also questioned whether the U.S. nuclear arsenal needs to consist of submarines, bombers and land-based missiles. "Is it time to reduce the Triad to a Diad, removing the land‐based missiles?" he asked the Senate Armed Services Committee last year.
- BRYAN BENDER and ANDREW HANNA, Trump picks General 'Mad Dog' Mattis as defense secretary, Politico, 12/01/16
[See also Meandering Toward War.]
["Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” - Mad Dog Mattis]

It must have felt like the worst trick of fate for these refugees to hit the wall of Donald Trump’s political posturing at the very last step of a yearslong, rigorous vetting process. This ban will also disrupt the lives and careers of potentially hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have been cleared to live in America under visas. On Saturday, as mass protests against that ban were held in various cities, the White House scaled back the reach of the policy, though not by much, exempting legal permanent residents.

That the order, breathtaking in scope and inflammatory in tone, was issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day spoke of the president’s callousness and indifference to history, to America’s deepest lessons about its own values.

The order lacks any logic. It invokes the attacks of Sept. 11 as a rationale, while exempting the countries of origin of all the hijackers who carried out that plot and also, perhaps not coincidentally, several countries where the Trump family does business. The document does not explicitly mention any religion, yet it sets a blatantly unconstitutional standard by excluding Muslims while giving government officials the discretion to admit people of other faiths.

The order’s language makes clear that the xenophobia and Islamophobia that permeated Mr. Trump’s campaign are to stain his presidency as well. ...

It is extremely dangerous. Extremist groups will trumpet this order to spread the notion, today more credible than ever, that the United States is at war with Islam rather than targeting terrorists. They want nothing more than a fearful, recklessly belligerent America; so, if anything, this ban will heighten their efforts to strike at Americans, to provoke yet further overreaction from a volatile and inexperienced president.

American allies in the Middle East will reasonably question why they should cooperate with, and defer to, the United States while its top officials vilify their faith. Afghans and Iraqis supporting American military operations would be justified in reassessing the merits of taking enormous risks for a government that is bold enough to drop bombs on their homelands but too frightened to provide a haven to their most vulnerable compatriots, and perhaps to them as well.
- THE EDITORIAL BOARD, Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Cowardly and Dangerous, NYT, JAN. 28, 2017

BW [Bob Woodward]: And why did Lincoln succeed? Thought about that at all?

DT [Donald Trump]: Well, I think Lincoln succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man that did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time.
- Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Transcript: Donald Trump interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Washington Post, April 2, 2016

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