A Board, a Ban, and a Barrier

Alex Pezzuto - 1B Electrical
Posted on: January 28, 2017

Trump is officially president. Now, I could just end the article right here, since I’m pretty sure everybody’s sick of Trump clogging up the news headlines, but I won’t—because sometimes low-hanging fruit just need to be picked.

So what controversies did Trump stir up this time?

He’s going to allow torture (specifically waterboarding), he enacted a ban on refugees and visitors in predominantly Muslim-populated countries from coming the the US, and he’s going to build the wall.

Torture has been one of Trump’s talking points since the start of his campaign, the rationale being to “fight fire with fire”. In an interview, he states that “I have spoken with people at the highest levels of intelligence, and I asked them the question—does torture work? And the answer was yes”.

Yet CIA director Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of General Defence James Mattis claim the opposite, as well as a study done by the US government. From 2002 to 2008, the CIA detained 119 people, and 39 of them were tortured. The conclusion of the Senate committee’s 6700 page report was that it didn’t work. Considering the Senate committee, as well as two of the most highly influential figures in the intelligence agency, disagree with his position, it certainly does beg the question—who are his sources? This endeavour ends up being pretty pointless, as Mattis will be granted full discretion on whether or not to use this power. Given his opinion on the matter, I’d say it would remain quite unused.

As for the second of Trump’s mentioned edicts; persons visiting from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen are prohibited from entering the country for 90 days. In addition, all refugees are banned from entering the country for 40 days, and Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.

“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas”, referring to radical Islamist terrorists, when Trump explains this decision. While selfish, barring refugees is somewhat understandable, considering the financial, time, and managerial burdens of handling such a project. However, banning everyone from entire countries from entering yours is particularly egregious. I’m sure there are other ways to ‘monitor the situation’ in the Middle-East without setting back the lives of Americans who have family or business relations in those countries. Was there a breakout-pandemic of terrorism in America recently that I missed? Because when you have an entire ocean and continent between you and the Middle-East, as well as having one of the strictest airline screening processes in the world, you would think such an action would come off as paranoid and hysterical.

Then there’s the wall. For such a drastic piece of news, there’s not much to say about this. Plans are in the works, and construction is to begin “probably in months”, according to Trump. The specifications of the wall are unknown, as are the plans for getting Mexico to pay for it as well. Considering the predicted costs of building and maintaining such a wall he described in his campaign are around $12-15 billion, it’s probably a good thing, too! In short, the wall is happening, but we don’t know when, where (specifically), or how. Hurray for politics!

If you considered Trump’s actions from a critic’s perspective, they may seem like insubstantial or vague solutions to the issues he promised to address. However, the above enactments were all declarations he made during his campaign, and when one considers these moves from a political perspective, they’re actually quite clever. A common gripe people have with politicians is their frequency to speak in sweet-nothings. By taking action so soon, Trump is creating a separation between him and that stereotype—something a lot of his supporters will end up appreciating. Only time will tell if the novelty of his ideas will end up producing the results he wanted, end up having severe repercussions, or remain ineffectual.