Hearts and Minds

Like a college sophomore dashing off something–anything!– to meet a term paper deadline, Trump signed an executive order banning Muslims from certain countries for 120 days and chaos ensued. Instead of conferring with experts and particularly his acting attorney general whose job it is to carry out the order, Trump dumped it on the government and the governed at the same time. What about dual-citizenship travellers? What about Green Card holders. Does this apply to people already in transit? What about Syrian refugees who have finished the two-year long vetting process and have been cleared to enter the United States? What about Iraqi translators who worked with our troops and whose lives are in danger because of the help they gave us?

Sign first, ask questions later.

The real problem here is not the personal pain caused to all the people caught up in Trump’s get tough act. His supporters don’t care about foreigners and don’t care about details. And it’s not the damage done to America’s reputation. The Statue of Liberty is looking more and more like a work of irony rather than inspiration. Trump’s supporters don’t care what other people think—foreigners from other countries or from blue states.

The real problem is the damage done to our national security. It is one thing to be attacked or even provoked and to fight back with all the awesome power at our disposal. It is another to instigate and foster resentments that will lead to acts of violence. Threats can be defeated. Resentment lingers and flares. Why start a fire that fuels itself, create a war that can never be won?

“Bomb the shit out of ’em said candidate Trump who knows more about ISIS than the generals. (How?) But even a poor student of history knows bombing doesn’t win wars. The Blitz didn’t bring London to its knees, Operation Rolling Thunder didn’t end the war in Vietnam and even after the atomic bomb, members of the Japanese high command attempted a coup whose goal was to keep fighting and force a negotiated peace, atom bomb or not. (See the Kyūjō incident )

The way to win a war is to destroy the enemy’s will to fight. And if you tell our enemies that our war is against their defining beliefs and its goal is to steal their natural resources, as Trump has done, then you leave them only one choice: to fight to the last man, woman and child. In fact, those are the two points our enemies use to recruit soldiers to their cause. Imagine using the full force of our media to broadcast to the Islamic world: You were right! Our goal is to destroy your culture and steal your natural resources. So…are you ready to surrender yet?”

Who would take that deal?

Author: leonardrysdyk

Leonard Rysdyk is the author of more than a dozen novels, stories, articles and poems. His work has appeared in many publications including Snow White, Blood Red, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Aboriginal Magazine and the New York Review of Science Fiction. A professor at Nassau Community College, he teaches literature (including science fiction), cultural history (including the history of science) and is an acknowledged innovator in the field of Computer Aided Instruction (CAI), a subject on which he has lectured and consulted.

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