The first hundred days

Published: February 4, 2017
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If you watch CNN on a regular basis you will notice a considerable amount of airtime is devoted to ‘The World According to Donald Trump’. Currently he is obsessed with banning those people from re-entering the United States who he thinks pose a serious danger to society. To indicate which countries harboured a hidden menace the territories were marked on a map. They just happened to be areas which have a Muslim majority population. As David Miliband pointed out President Trump’s executive order suspending the entire resettlement programme for 120 days and banning indefinitely the arrival of Syrian refugees is a repudiation of fundamental American values. Under Trump the United States is no longer the humanitarian leader of the world. And after the attempted imposition of ‘America First’ everybody’s life in a country that the poor, wretched and persecuted once aspired to move to is becoming a Swiss Army knife of spiked weirdness. President Trump has thrown on the pyre all values of decency and civility. The Middle East today is not only a victim of tribal and factional wars but also because it is a prey of clumsy foreign interventions and extreme cruelty. Trump’s obsession with ‘Muslim terrorists’ is a trifle ridiculous. According to the Cato Institute, the chance that a citizen in the US would be killed by a terrorist are 1 in 3.64 billion. In fact, an American is far more likely to be killed by lightning than by a terrorist who is a refugee.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently welcomed President Mahmood Abbas of Palestine and offered his full support. It is not very clear what he meant by ‘full support.’ He can persuade his followers to do a bit of sabre rattling and offer to pray that Benyamin Netanyahu slips into a pond of quicksand in the occupied territories and drowns. There is no trove of opportunities here, only the peat of misery. Nawaz Sharif is still probably ebullient about the fact that Pakistan has to deal with a Republican rather than a Democrat government. And the Pakistan Foreign Office has displayed considerable tact in approving changes in US immigration policy; the interior minister has condemned the move.

Everything said and done the victims of the current holocaust are the poor defenceless Syrian refugees who have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. In many European countries moderate Muslims have been asked to speak out against the extremists in their midst when one of their flock has succumbed to IS propaganda and taken out a cluster of men, women and children in a market or a mosque. But who is going to tame the extremists in America? We keep hearing that Trump is not America. And that petitions are being signed all over the world against the heartlessness of the travel ban. But so far Trump appears to behave as if he is America. Currently he is obsessed with trying to find out what went wrong with the popular vote and the size of his inauguration. Trump’s security adviser, Mike Flynn, referred to Islam as a cancer and a poll pointed out that many Americans approved of the travel ban. It is very easy to play on peoples’ fears and whip up hysteria, as happened to Jewish refugees in the 1930s who were barred from entering the country. There are a number of predictions about what is likely to happen in America and if Trump will survive. Some believe there will be a worldwide economic depression due to insular policies. Others believe there will be fresh political and military alliances which will weaken the United States. One greatly disillusioned Asian was heard to say God let Trump win because he wanted to punish the Americans for all the misery they caused the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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