Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 03.02.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Trump and U.S. Alliances
  • Trump’s Syria safe zone plan ‘realistic’ but hinges on Russia’s consent
  • Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees — Separating Fact from Hysteria
  • Why did Russia offer autonomy for Syria’s Kurds?
  • Peter Gauweiler. Das sind die Kernprobleme der Flüchtlingsdebatte
  • Im Spiel "Trump – Europa" steht es 3:0
  • "Building an Energy Security Management Institution for the South Caucasus" – PfP Consortium Study Group "Regional Stability in the South Caucasus"
  • Klaus Wittmann: Über Afghanistan “Die Strategiefähigkeit Deutschlands (sic!UvM) und die sicherheitspolitische Kompetenz der Abgeordneten zur Einlösung des Anspruchs einer ‚Parlamentsarmee‘ gehören zu den Punkten, die zu hinterfragen sind.“

Massenbach*Trump and U.S. Alliances

From Burden-Sharing to Burden-Shedding

By Doug Bandow

About the Author:

DOUG BANDOW is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

The lackluster military spending of European countries has been a source of constant complaint for U.S. officials in recent years. Yet most of Washington’s demands for action have lacked credibility, since no U.S. administration has ever penalized a European state for slacking on defense.

Instead, U.S. officials have typically sought to reassure allies, in Europe and elsewhere, that the United States would do whatever was necessary to protect them.

The United States’ allies fear that U.S. President Donald Trump may take a different course. Trump spared no criticism during his campaign for Washington’s partners in East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, suggesting that some of the United States’ security commitments were obsolete and that foreign countries had been reaping the benefits of U.S. protection without providing much in return.

Foreign observers variously worried that Trump might send allied states a bill for the upkeep of U.S. forces, withdraw troops to the United States, or refuse to defend their countries from foreign aggression.

Since then, foreign officials have been watching Trump’s appointments, attempting to discern what the new president might demand of U.S. allies. Both Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis sounded reassuring during their confirmation hearings. The former called NATO’s Article 5 guarantee “inviolable,” and the latter stated that “NATO is vital to our interests.”

Still, U.S. allies have reason for concern. Europeans can point to small upticks in military spending this year, but that increase looks significant only when compared with years of substantial reductions, and no major enhancements to the combat capabilities of Europe’s militaries seem to be in the offing.

As for South Korea, two weeks after the election, Chang Myoung-jin, the head of the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, said that his government would “inevitably have to” embrace U.S. demands for more military outlays. But Chang’s colleagues in Seoul sharply disagreed, and the political crisis enveloping South Korea will make policy changes difficult. In Japan, too, the political barriers to a more active military role are high: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to strengthen the country’s forces continues to face significant public opposition.

Trump said little publicly about his plans for U.S. allies in the weeks before his inauguration. Yet the comments of former President Barack Obama and others who spoke with Trump after the election suggest that Trump wanted to reassure U.S. partners that he is committed to all of them. Obama, for instance, stated that Trump expressed “his commitment to NATO and the transatlantic alliance” soon after meeting with him in November. Moreover, in his inaugural address, the new president promised to “reinforce old alliances.” Taken together, those statements make it seem unlikely that Trump will withdraw U.S. troops from allied countries.

But surrendering to the status quo would be a mistake. As long as Washington adds forces and military tripwires abroad, friendly states will believe the United States is unlikely to reduce its commitments to them—even if their own military contributions fall short. That means they will revert to habit, nodding yes to presidential demands for burden-sharing while ignoring them at budget-writing time. Indeed, despite the heated concerns of the Baltic states, the modest reactions of most European NATO members to Trump’s comments suggest that they are more determined to assuage foreign demands for greater defense outlays than to develop a serious European combat capability.

Instead of worrying about the minor increases in military spending allied states may make, Trump should adopt a more ambitious agenda. He should call on other nations not just to do more on their own behalf but also to take over responsibility for their own defense. The biggest costs of U.S. security guarantees do not come from basing troops overseas; they come from creating and equipping the military units needed to defend allies in the first place.

The security of U.S. allies is a traditional priority, but that security should be a means rather than an end. Washington should defend allies when doing so makes the United States more secure, not when doing so makes only its allies safer. This difference is critical. Montenegro, the Baltic states, and Ukraine, for instance, are irrelevant to U.S. security.

Washington’s focus during the Cold War was to protect the populous industrial states in Europe’s west, ensuring that Moscow could not dominate Eurasia. But such control doesn’t appear to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal, and it is well beyond his country’s means, in any case. Although the status of Ukraine, which was historically dominated by the Russian empire and Soviet Union in turn, warrants humanitarian concern, it does not affect Americans’ well-being.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on board the USS Ronald Reagan near Tokyo, October 2015.

Even war on the Korean peninsula, which would set off a humanitarian tragedy and economic disruption, would not directly threaten U.S. security. Nor would an American withdrawal from the peninsula trigger such a conflict if Seoul more fully employed its vast advantages over the North. In fact, the U.S. military’s presence in South Korea endangers Americans, since it is why Pyongyang targets the United States with invective and seeks to do so with missiles. Washington’s involvement in a conflict with North Korea would encourage Pyongyang to use whatever weapons it possesses.

Trump should focus on handing back responsibility to allies for their own defense, not just getting them to spend more. That should certainly mean developing conventional capabilities sufficient to deter and win wars. Indeed, U.S. allies’ ability to spend more is the most important argument for transferring that responsibility to them in the first place.

The question of whether more U.S. allies should develop nuclear weapons of their own deserves serious debate. The United States could continue to maintain a nuclear umbrella, or it could decide that the risk of being entangled in nuclear war arising from other states’ conflicts warrants the development of separate allied nuclear deterrents. The arguments against such a policy are obvious, yet Europe already has two nuclear-armed nations. And the threat to stand aside if South Korea responded in kind to the North’s nuclear program might be the most effective means to convince China to put more pressure on Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Thus, if the Baltic states and Poland want NATO garrisons, for instance, other European nations should provide them. The latter have far more at stake in the region, as well as a larger cumulative population, than the United States does. Washington should hand off wartime operational command over South Korean forces to Seoul, which should bear the brunt of meeting any North Korean attack. And in Japan, the United States should begin drawing down its oversize military presence in Okinawa, which has provoked the anger of locals. Such steps would reinforce the broader message that fundamental changes to the United States’ security commitments are needed—beyond higher defense spending on the part of foreign governments. Trump got the attention of allied officials simply by appearing to be serious about his criticisms of the United States’ many security relationships. Now he should make serious proposals for change.


Im Spiel "Trump – Europa" steht es 3:0

Wer immer noch denkt, dass es sich beim neuen US-Präsidenten um einen planlosen Akteur handelt, der sollte dringend die Klassiker der Verhandlungstheorie lesen. Donald Trump weiß genau, was er tut.

von Tilman Eichstädt

Unabhängig davon, wie Europa die Ankündigungen von Donald Trump inhaltlich bewertet – Respekt vor seiner Taktik! Trump schafft den Verhandlungs-Hattrick, bevor das Spiel überhaupt angefangen hat. Während das alte Europa gerade die uralte Rivalität zwischen England und Frankreich für die Brexit-Verhandlungen aufleben lässt, hat Trump die Karten für die bevorstehenden Verhandlungen zu Welthandel, Nato und Klimaverträgen nach seiner Agenda gemischt.

Wer jetzt noch glaubt, es mit einem plan- und harmlosen Choleriker zu tun zu haben, dem sei dringend die Lektüre der wichtigsten Klassiker der Verhandlungswissenschaften empfohlen. In Amerika sind sie im Lehrplan jeder Businessschool verankert, in Europa leider nur sehr selten. Aber ihr Verständnis wird in den kommenden Monaten und Jahren wichtiger denn je, wenn die weltweite Führungsmacht beschließt, sich zukünftig nur noch auf sich selbst zu konzentrieren.

Zu allem bereit

Die Botschaft der feierlichen Inauguration am 20. Januar war für jedes Kind verständlich. Man musste nicht zuhören und kein Experte für Ekmans Gesichtserkennung sein, um zu sehen und zu verstehen. Amerika, die mächtigste Wirtschafts- und Militärmacht ist wütend und verärgert. Danach war vielen europäischen Politikern und Berichterstattern die Angst ins Gesicht geschrieben. Die Drohung ist gelungen, in Europa ist man nun maximal verunsichert. Amerika scheint zu allem bereit.

Eine der wichtigsten Einsichten des Nobelpreisträgers Tom Schelling aus der Analyse des Kalten Kriegs war das Verständnis von Selbstbindung bei Drohstrategien. Wer glaubhaft sein Schicksal an bestimmte Ergebnisse bindet, der kann andere in der Verhandlung unter Druck setzen. Die Eröffnungsrede hat klar unterstrichen, dass Trump an das Wohl seiner Wähler gebunden ist. Althergebrachte Institutionen, Normen oder Werte spielen für ihn keine Rolle. Es zählt nur, was Jobs und Wohlstand in Amerika bringt. Alles andere ist irrelevant für das Land, das seit 1941 wie kein anderes die Weltwirtschafts- und Sicherheitspolitik geformt hat. Schellings zweite wichtige Empfehlung ist: Wer droht, muss auch gelegentlich Drohungen umsetzen, sonst wird er unglaubwürdig. In Europa zu hoffen, Trump würde als erfolgreicher Geschäftsmann diese Maxime nicht kennen oder berücksichtigen, wäre absolut fahrlässig.

Wahre Interessen werden oft verschleiert

Eines der vier Leitprinzipien aus dem weitverbreiteten Verhandlungsklassiker "Getting to Yes" ist die Unterscheidung zwischen Positionen und Interessen. In Verhandlungen werden oft taktische Positionen eingenommen, die wahren Interessen aber verschleiert. Entscheidend für den Verhandlungserfolg ist, die Interessen der anderen Seite zu verstehen, am besten, ohne die eigenen Interessen vorschnell preiszugeben. Man stellt einzelne Punkte als wichtige Verhandlungspositionen dar, die es eigentlich gar nicht sind. Dort kann man Zugeständnisse machen und gleichzeitig im Gegenzug etwas dafür verlangen. (Wenn Ihnen der Trödler erzählt, er habe zu dem Stück, das Sie kaufen wollen, eine ganz persönliche Bindung, und wolle sich gar nicht davon trennen, dann bezieht er eine Position, die nicht seinen Interessen entspricht.)

Was Europa will, ist offen wie ein Buch: eine möglichst weitreichende Aufrechterhaltung des Status-Quo bei Nato, Welthandel und internationaler Zusammenarbeit wie dem Klimavertrag. Im Skat nennt man das "Ouvert spielen", was anerkanntermaßen schwierig ist, und nur bei sehr gutem Blatt empfohlen wird. Was Trump will, weiß niemand, er hat sein Blatt noch in der Hand. Will er nur noch Amerikas Grenzen schützen oder wagt er ein militärisches Abenteuer gegen den IS und fordert dazu die Gefolgschaft der Nato-Mitglieder? Wahrscheinlich hat er sich noch nicht entschieden, aber schon jetzt hat er die Europäer in der richtigen Ecke, denn ihre Interessen liegen auf der Hand.

Je besser die Alternativen, desto besser die Verhandlungsposition

Jedem ist bewusst, dass Alternativen in Verhandlungen wichtig sind. Verhandlungswissenschaftler des Harvard Negotiation Programs messen Verhandlungsmacht gerne mit dem BATNA-Konzept. Die „Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement“ bestimmt den Ausgangspunkt eines jeden Verhandlers. Je besser seine Alternativen, desto besser seine Verhandlungsposition. Aber wie sind die Alternativen aktuell verteilt? Sicherheitspolitisch ist Europa ohne die Nato ein impotenter Zwerg, erst Recht ohne Großbritannien, und nur mit einer wenig attraktiven Alternative Russland. Die USA können mit oder ohne Nato leben und haben alle Alternativen, schließlich ist jeder gern mit dem stärksten Jungen auf dem Schulhof befreundet.

Wirtschaftspolitisch ist Europa stark, aber leider zu stark. Wer auf die US-Handelsbilanz schaut, der kann die Twitterbilanz des Präsidenten schnell deuten. China, Mexiko und Deutschland haben gemeinsam mit Japan die größten Exportüberschüsse in die USA. Die übrigen Europäer, allen voran Frankreich und Italien folgen bald. Alleine Frankreich, Italien und Deutschland exportieren jedes Jahr für mehr als 100 Milliarden US-Dollar mehr Waren in die USA, als sie von dort importieren. Das US-Außenhandelsdefizit liegt seit Jahren bei mehr als 700 Milliarden US-Dollar, der alte Primat des globalen Freihandels scheint also nicht mehr ganz so glänzend aus amerikanischer Perspektive.

Mehr Geld verdient man mit den neuen Monopolen im Bereich Software, Hightech und Internetdienstleistungen. Die größten und wertvollsten Unternehmen der Welt kommen aus diesen Branchen und weiterhin aus den USA, wären aber von einem klassischen Handelskrieg mit Zöllen auf Stahl, Fernseher und Autos kaum betroffen. Und Europas Alternativen zu Google, Microsoft und Apple sehen folgendermaßen aus: (Hier sehen Sie nichts).

3:0 – und die erste Halbzeit ist noch nicht vorbei

Europa tritt auf wie Frankreich bei der Weltmeisterschaft 2010: ungeliebter Trainer, zerstrittene Spieler, keine Strategie. Das mögliche Ausscheiden als Gruppenletzter nach der Vorrunde wird plötzlich real. Merkels Einsatz der Überzeugungsstrategie "Betonung gemeinsamer Werte" mag zwar sinnvoll sein, um die eigenen Reihen zu schließen, aber ob es Trump beeindruckt, darf bezweifelt werden. Als werteorientiert ist er bisher nicht aufgetreten.

Eine starke "Blut, Schweiß und Tränen"-Rede zur Halbzeit wird für Europa dringend nötig sein. Aber dafür braucht es Einigkeit und eine Strategie. Die jüngsten Possenspiele im Europaparlament erinnern eher an die Intrigen im römischen Senat, die eine lange Kaiserzeit einleiteten. Die intellektuellen Eliten sind vor allem damit beschäftigt, sich gegenseitig die Schuld zuzuschieben. Die Wirtschaftsliberalen sehen die Schuld bei den Gesellschaftsliberalen und ihrem Fokus auf Minderheiten und Migranten und Ihrer Blindheit bei der inneren Sicherheit. Die Gesellschaftsliberalen sehen die Schuld bei den Wirtschaftsliberalen und ihrem Fokus auf Freihandel und Deregulierung und Ihrer Blindheit gegenüber sozialen Ungerechtigkeiten. Die Politiker sind noch so stark auf Ihre gewohnten Reflexe konditioniert, sie versuchen lediglich, sich in den veralteten Denkmustern zu positionieren. Eine großzügige Einladung zum "Teile und Herrsche" an Trump und Putin!

Europa muss sich aus dem gewohnten Schatten der USA herauswagen und eine eigene politische Vision für die Zukunft entwickeln. Am Anfang erfolgreicher Verhandlungen stehen immer klare Ziele, und Einigkeit darüber, was erreicht werden soll. Das ist eine Herausforderung, aber auch eine Chance: Wie sollen Wirtschafts- und Gesellschaftsordnung zukünftig aussehen? Wie weit will man sich sicherheitspolitisch hinauswagen? Wie lange muss man noch in Afghanistan das Chaos der US-Invasion mitverwalten? In Asien, Südamerika und Afrika gibt es viele Staaten und Menschen, die weiterhin auf Respekt, Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit und internationalen Ausgleich setzen. Die Welt steht offen für neue Bündnisse, man muss sie jetzt schmieden, und darf nicht wie der Hase im Loch abwarten. Das Wichtigste aber dafür ist Einigkeit in Europa. Das ist das höchste Gut in 2017.

Übrigens: Großbritannien hat eine ausgeglichene Handelsbilanz mit den USA, ob eine Post-Brexit-Bestrafungsstrategie hier langfristig richtig ist, ist darum fraglich. Großbritannien hat zumindest zwei Alternativen: Anlehnung an Europa oder an die USA.

Tilman Eichstädt ist Professor für Supply Chain Management an der bbw Hochschule Berlin und arbeitet seit zehn Jahren als Experte für Einkauf und Verhandlungen für die deutsche Industrie. Parallel dazu erforscht er die Einflussfaktoren für Verhandlungsmacht in Verhandlungsexperimenten.

  • Mein Kommentar, UvM: Eine Aufgabe für Martin Schulz?


Policy Recommendations: "Building an Energy Security Management Institution for the South Caucasus" – PfP Consortium Study Group "Regional Stability in the South Caucasus"

Kindly find attached the Policy Recommendations to the most recent workshop of the PfP Consortium Study Group "Regional Stability in the South Caucasus" (RSSC) which was convened in Reichenau/Austria from 10 to 13 November 2016 under the title

”Building an Energy Security Management Institution for the South Caucasus”.

The recommendations were prepared by Frederic Labarre and George Niculescu, RSSC co-chairs, with input from the Study Group members.

For your convenience, please find the main results and recommendations in the Executive Summary on the first page.

Kindly feel free to forward these Policy Recommendations to all interested parties.

In addition to the policy recommendations, we will prepare a comprehensive edition of the individual contributions to the workshop in the Study Group Information series published by the Austrian National Defence Academy.

You can find all RSSC publications under .

Best regards,

Austrian National Defence Academy

Research Management and Cooperation

1070 Vienna, Austria


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Gastbeitrag von Peter Gauweiler.

Das sind die Kernprobleme der Flüchtlingsdebatte

Der Westen hat die Flüchtlingsbewegungen begünstigt, die Migrationsgesetze werden kaum angewendet, und die Schengen-Regeln müssen durchgesetzt werden. Davon darf nicht abgelenkt werden.

Unsere Parteien haben sich in der Flüchtlings-Causa übernommen. Sie wollten die ganze Welt umarmen, und für einen kurzen Moment haben sie das auch geschafft. Deutschland im weißen Kleid. Geschafft hat das vor allem unsere Maria Theresia aus der Uckermark. Aber –  Undank ist der Welten Lohn – jetzt sagen immer mehr: „Sie hat uns geschafft.“ Deutschland hat mehr Flüchtlinge aus der Dritten Welt aufgenommen als alle anderen 27 EU-Länder zusammen. Und auf einem Quadratkilometer in Deutschland leben heute doppelt so viele Menschen wie in Frankreich (230 Personen in Deutschland , in Frankreich 103). Von den 722.370 Asylantragstellern des Jahres 2016 fiel mehr als die Hälfte nicht einmal unter die Genfer Flüchtlingskonvention. Als „asylberechtigt“ anerkannt wurden 2 120 Personen, das sind 0,3 Prozent. Also: wie weiter?

1. Man kann über Donald Trump sagen, was man will. Aber dass der neu gewählte amerikanische Präsident den Irak-Krieg als „die möglicherweise schlechteste Entscheidung“ in der Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten bezeichnet und das Nachkriegsbündnis Nato als altmodisch und überholungsbedürftig, lässt wirklich hoffen. Ebenso, dass Amerika nicht mehr danach strebt, „jemanden unsere Lebensweise aufzuzwingen“.
Alle Militär-Interventionen des Westens „für unsere Werte“ haben das Elend in den betreffenden Ländern erhöht, die Entstehung des IS und das Anwachsen seines Einflusses ermöglicht, den islamischen Terrorismus beflügelt und eine Flüchtlingsbewegung säkularen Ausmaßes provoziert. Die Nato-Staaten töten dort mit Drohnen seit 15 Jahren Menschen wie Fliegen und sind über den Einwand beleidigt, sie würden den Flächenbrand im Nahen und Mittleren Osten mit Benzin löschen. Das geht so nicht weiter. Mit Trump und seiner Unbekümmertheit ist das Tabu gebrochen, die Bundeswehr aus diesen westlichen Idiotenkriegen zurückzuziehen.

2. Der jetzige Gesetzesänderungsaktionismus in Sachen innere Sicherheit ist falsch. Falsch im Sinne von: nicht ehrlich, misstönend, falsches Gebiss. Jeder merkt, dass die Politik von ihrer Verantwortung für den Kontrollverlust an der Grenze ablenken will. Natürlich können einzelne Maßnahmen die Sicherheit in Bezug auf terroristische Gefährder erhöhen, mehr Videoüberwachung, elektronische Fußfessel. Aber liebe Minister de Maizière und Maas – bitte keine Illusionen: In Frankreich hat ein Gefährder mit elektronischer Fußfessel einen Priester ermordet. Die eigentliche Frage haben die beiden in ihren jetzt veröffentlichten „zehn Maßnahmen“ nicht beantwortet: Werden Polizei und Justiz die von unserer Regierung beiseitegeschobenen Essentials des Flüchtlingsrechts in Zukunft beachten oder nicht? Konkret geht es um:

  • die von Lafontaine, Stoiber und Scharping 1993 mit Zweidrittelmehrheit durchgesetzte Einschränkung des Asylgrundrechts im Grundgesetz: „… kann sich nicht berufen, wer aus einem Mitgliedsstaat der EU einreist“, Art. 16 Abs. 2 GG,
  • die vom Bundestag auf Antrag von Innenminister Schily beschlossene Garantie der Schutzfunktion der deutschen Grenze auch nach Schengen durch das neue Aufenthaltsgesetz: „Ein Ausländer, der unerlaubt einreisen will, wird an der Grenze zurückgewiesen“, § 15 Abs. 1 Aufenthaltsgesetz,
  • die Ausschaffung von Nicht-Einreise‧berechtigten im Asylverfahren: „… ist zurückzuschicken, wenn er von der Grenzbehörde im grenznahen Raum in unmittelbarem zeitlichen Zusammenhang mit einer unerlaubten Einreise angetroffen wird“, § 17 Abs. 3 Asylverfahrensgesetz.

Weil es nicht nur im Fall Amri bei Anwendung der Gesetze gar nicht so weit hätte kommen müssen, hat – bitte nicht erschrecken – die Grünen-Vorsitzende Peter recht, dass die Anwendung des bestehenden Rechts der Ankündigung ständig neuer Vorschriften vorzuziehen ist. Ob Simone Peter wirklich mit einem konsequenten Vollzug der oben genannten Regeln einverstanden wäre – man müsste die Probe aufs Exempel machen –, würde sich zeigen. Aber immer neue Vorschläge zur inneren Sicherheit, noch dazu von Leuten, die seit Jahren an der Regierung sind, machen die Leute verrückt.

3. Nach der Dublin-III-Verordnung (Nummer 604/2013) der Europäischen Union wären für die Asylantragsteller der Jahre 2015 und 2016, die illegal nach Europa einreisten (das heißt für nahezu 100 Prozent), nicht Deutschland, sondern der EU-Mitgliedstaat zuständig gewesen, in dem der Flüchtling die Grenze illegal überschritten hat (Art. 13). Die Zuständigkeit dieser Staaten hätte erst zwölf Monate (Art. 13 Abs. 1) nach dem Grenzübertritt geendet. Deutschland hatte sich damals freiwillig zuständig gemacht, was nach dem Schengen-Vertrag möglich war (Art. 17 Abs. 1). Aber das ist die äußerste Ausnahme. Geht das so weiter?

Was ist mit den Grenzkontrollen? Das EU-Recht lässt ja vorübergehende Grenzkontrollen ausdrücklich zu, wenn „die innere Sicherheit ernsthaft bedroht ist“ (Schengener Grenzkodex Art. 28): erst für sechs Monate, dann für maximal zwei Jahre (Schengener Grenzkodex Art. 25 Abs. 1–3). Rechtlich könnte man sagen, wenn die Außengrenze nach zwei Jahren immer noch nicht wirksam kontrolliert wird, ist die Geschäftsgrundlage von Schengen entfallen. Wird das in Berlin genauso gesehen? Wir brauchen in Europa unbedingt Klarheit über die Zukunft unseres Grenzregimes. Das ist wichtiger als alle Fußfessel-Vorschläge von Leuten, die jetzt auf Hardliner tun.

4. Sollen die bereits im Land befindlichen Flüchtlinge arbeiten dürfen (können, müssen), oder dürfen sie nur lagern? Von den über 1,3 Millionen Flüchtlingsanträgen wurden vom Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge für über 800.000 Personen festgestellt, dass diese keine Flüchtlinge nach der Genfer Flüchtlings‧konvention sind, geschweige denn asylberechtigt nach dem Grundgesetz. Gleichwohl sind sie da. Von den Neuen sollen geschätzt 200.000 unter keinen Umständen arbeiten dürfen. Das wäre ein ausgehaltenes Müßiggänger-Lager von der Größe Würzburgs und kann nicht gutgehen. Die Gefahrenlage wird vervielfacht, wenn dieses Riesenheer meist junger, körperlich gestählter, männlicher Migranten ohne jede sinnvolle Beschäftigung auf den öffentlichen Straßen und Plätzen unserer Städte und Gemeinden herumgeistert.

Eigentlich sollten (müssten) die Flüchtlinge – solange sie im Land sind – umstandslos und sofort arbeiten dürfen, schon als Gegenleistung für die Kosten ihres Aufenthalts (Unterbringung, Ernährung, Kleidung, ärztliche Versorgung). Das würde ihre Akzeptanz bei der einheimischen Bevölkerung schlagartig erhöhen. Wo diese Arbeitsaufnahme individuell nicht möglich ist, sollte der Staat einen Ersatzdienst für Flüchtlinge organisieren, der die Betroffenen in Kontingente vermittelt. Die Pflicht zur Übernahme gemeinnütziger Tätigkeiten für Sozialhilfeempfänger ist im deutschen Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB) ausdrücklich vorgesehen.

Wir brauchen einen verbindlichen Bundes-, Länder- und Gemeindedienst für alle Flüchtlinge. Angesiedelt und organisiert bei den Wohlfahrtsverbänden, beim Roten Kreuz, beim Technischen Hilfswerk, bei den Naturschutzverbänden und, wenn es logistisch nicht anders geht, bei der Bundeswehr. Man merkte dann ziemlich schnell, wer in Deutschland wirklich mitmachen will und wer nicht.

Jetzt tritt der in den Medien als „Spitzenkandidat“ bezeichnete Martin Schulz gegen Angela Merkel an (das Wort „Spitzenkandidat“ ist ein bisschen irreführend – eine direktdemokratische Bestimmung der Nummer eins durch Wähler‧innen und Wähler mit Wahl und Vorwahl wie in Frankreich und den USA gibt es bei uns ja nicht). Jeder weiß, dass die Probleme riesengroß, aber die Unterschiede der „Spitzenkandidaten“ in der Sache nur auf dem Millimeter‧papier sichtbar sind. Gleichwohl gibt es in allen Parteien genug Klarsichtige, die sich der Tatsache bewusst sind, dass Deutschland in Angelegenheiten seiner inneren und äußeren Sicherheit heute schlechter dasteht als vor vier Jahren. Und dass dagegen etwas getan werden muss.

****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

  • Barandat* Klaus Wittmann: Über Afghanistan “Die Strategiefähigkeit Deutschlands (sic!UvM) und die sicherheitspolitische Kompetenz der Abgeordneten zur Einlösung des Anspruchs einer ‚Parlamentsarmee‘ gehören zu den Punkten, die zu hinterfragen sind.“

For more see att. / Weiter siehe Anlage : Klaus Wittmann.


Middle East

Trump’s Syria safe zone plan ‘realistic’ but hinges on Russia’s consent

WASHINGTON: With US President Donald Trump’s formal executive order to establish “safe zones” in Syria expected imminently, experts see the plan as realistic in at least two areas of the country.

But it all hinges on Russia’s acquiescence and implicit support to minimize the US military commitment, the Syria-watchers suggested.

The news of a safe zone emerged this week following the leak of a draft executive order halting most Syrian refugee resettlement in the US. It suggested “a plan to provide safe areas in Syria and in the surrounding region in which Syrian nationals displaced from their homeland can await firm settlement, such as repatriation or potential third-country resettlement.”

While officials from both the State and Defense departments told Arab News they are waiting for “formal directives” before commenting on hypothetical plans and drafts, experts who closely follow the Syrian conflict saw the move — in its timing and intent — as “realistic” and achievable.

Trump’s bargain

Following the leak of the draft, Trump told ABC News that he “will absolutely do safe zones in Syria.” This was the second time since winning the election in November that he has spoken with such clarity on the issue.

On Nov. 17, the then President-elect Trump told his supporters: “in Syria, take a big swatch of land, which believe me, you get for the right price, OK?… what I’d like is build a safe zone, it’s here, build a big beautiful safe zone and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.”

Nicholas Heras, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and at the Jamestown Foundation, tells Arab News that Trump “is serious about this proposal, as are senior members of his administration.”

The bargain that Trump, the businessman, sees in the safe zone plan is the following, explains Heras, “a way to alleviate human suffering in Syria while at the same time prevent future refugee flows that threaten the stability of Europe and which put political pressure on the US to accept Syrian refugees.”

Such a plan would be designed “with minimal commitment from Washington,” says Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington.

Logistics and potential layout

Hassan, co-author of the bestseller “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” tells Arab News that “no more resources than are already dedicated to the fight against ISIS in eastern and southern Syria would be required from the US.”

It is in these areas where the US is battling Daesh that the safe zones would be located. Heras identifies two locations in Syria “where there is the immediate opportunity that safe zones could be built.” The first is in the north “in the territory stretching from the eastern Aleppo suburbs to the Syrian-Iraqi border in the northeastern tip of Syria,” he adds. The second “is in southwestern Syria, along the Syrian-Jordanian and Syrian-Golan Heights borders.”

Hassan agrees that these areas “are de facto safe zones and what is lacking is a policy to help people return to their areas and rebuild their communities.” He sees such an approach “essential and not optional, if the US is to ensure ISIS does not regenerate.”

While there is a risk of the Assad government bombarding these areas, Heras notes that the regime and its allies have had “a military manpower problem and can only carry out limited military campaigns to take and hold territory that is close to Assad’s statelet in western Syria.” The areas under consideration “have been independent from the Assad government and under self-governance since 2011 and 2012, and are not likely to return to Assad government control for a long time,” he adds.

Russia’s green light?

Both Hassan and Heras see Russia’s blessing or at least acquiescence to such plans as critical. “No safe zones will be built in Syria without Russia’s acceptance,” says Heras. Moscow’s role will be key to “apply pressure on the Assad government, and to work to reduce the influence of the Iranians and their proxy forces inside of Assad’s statelet, as part of a broader ‘Balkans’-like international stabilization mission for Syria.”

Russia’s improved relations with Turkey and their latest joint cooperation in Syria on the political and counterterrorism fronts make these safe zones “more realistic,” says Hassan. He explains that “Turkey and Russia have been working together to deescalate the situation, and this relationship can be utilized to neutralize the civilian population from the ongoing operations.”

These foreign spheres of influence in Syria “make it easy to reach a bargain to establish safe zones in areas where hostilities between the main warring parties are not reduced or non-existent,” Hassan adds. “The fragmentation of Syria along various spheres of influence is an opportunity to create safe areas that allow displaced people, especially in neighboring countries, to go back to the country and unlike before, this does not need to be seen by Damascus and its allies as a threat.”

Hassan emphasizes the importance of coordination “with countries in the region and in Europe to build the capacity of the local communities to police their own areas and prevent jihadists from building influence and networks in those areas.”

As far as the US military commitment is concerned to protect these safe zones, it would all be contingent on Assad’s response, says Heras. “If Assad decides to attack them, the US will need to be able to strike Assad government targets, either using standoff weapons like cruise missiles, or by launching airstrikes,” adds the defense analyst. If the Assad government chooses to wage a ground campaign, “it will require US ground forces — tens of thousands — with local partners to hold them off.”


*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Why did Russia offer autonomy for Syria’s Kurds?

Russia seizes diplomatic momentum on Syria.

Summary: Draft constitution from Russia seeks to decentralize Syrian state authority, limit presidential powers; Turkish forces struggle in two-front campaign against both the Islamic State and Syrian Kurds; Al-Monitor offers in-depth reporting on Syrian Kurdish region.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura praised the Russian-brokered Syria talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, which ended Jan. 24, as a “concrete step” toward implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions dealing with Syria, commending Russia, Turkey and Iran for setting up a mechanism to ensure compliance with the cease-fire announced last month.

Russia’s diplomatic blitz did not end in Astana, however. On Jan. 27, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Syrian opposition parties in Moscow for further discussion of a Russian draft of a new Syrian Constitution that had been offered in Astana. While representatives of the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian opposition and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces refused to attend, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey had excluded from the Astana talks, participated in the Moscow meeting.

Maxim Suchkov reports that the draft constitution includes restrictions on the power of the Syrian presidency, with most powers deferred to the parliament and a newly created “Assembly of Regions.” Under the draft, the president would serve for seven years with no option for a second consecutive term.

Most controversial in the draft may be the decentralization of government authorities and the empowerment of local councils. “One issue that has stirred debate,” Suchkov writes, "is a provision allowing for ‚autonomy of Kurdish regions,‘ which Russia sees as an adequate compromise for the country’s federalization. A provision stipulating equal rights for Kurds and Arabs on Kurdish territories is also remarkable. Moreover, under the proposed draft, every region in the country should be given the right to legalize the use of a language of the region’s majority — in addition to the state language and in accordance with the law.”

Not surprisingly, Suchkov continues, the draft elicited strong reactions from the parties to the conflict. “So far,” he writes, “the Kurdish issue is the most controversial. Turkey, Damascus and the Arab opposition forces all have their own caveats about the proposed autonomy — and it doesn’t please the Kurds, either, as they want more.”

This is not the first time that Russia has floated the idea of autonomy for Syria’s Kurdish regions. Al-Monitor broke the news of a Russian-mediated effort in September that broached the subject of autonomy, but was dismissed by the Syrian government.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied that Russia was backing autonomy for Syrian Kurds, saying, “Only Syrians can uphold their country as an integral, sovereign, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.”

Lavrov contrasted the Russian draft with the Iraqi Constitution, which he claimed was “forced” on Iraq by the United States. “We have only offered our proposals to the Syrian parties without any intention of forcing them to adopt them,” he said. “Based on the experience of the past five years, we are convinced that practical work can only begin if specific proposals are put on the table. I hope that all Syrians will read our draft while preparing for a meeting in Geneva and that it will provide an impetus for a practical discussion of ways to achieve accord in Syria in keeping with the Geneva Communique.”

Suchkov said, “The expectation in Moscow is that, at the end of the day, the parties will share the view that extreme, uncompromising positions will mean no end to the civil war in the near future, while the proposed formula may be the best possible solution under the current circumstances.”

Turkey bogged down in al-Bab

Metin Gurcan reports that the Turkish military is facing a “new generation of urban warfare” in its battles against the Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria, as well as expanded military arsenals of both the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

Gurcan writes, “The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is learning on the ground in al-Bab clashes how tough the new generation of urban warfare with the Islamic State (IS) can be. Turkish troops are experiencing major tests against the defensive model IS has developed based on tunnel warfare, anti-tank missiles and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, used with lethal effect in urban warfare. Ankara is now seriously considering whether the PKK will also be achieving the military technology and modern military capability levels of IS."

He adds, “Because of the wars in Iraq and Syria with advanced weaponry used by all belligerents, the PKK has become a sophisticated force by diversifying its weaponry, ammunition and equipment. The Turkish military notes the PKK and its northern Syrian combat affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), are gradually becoming more of a regular army by constantly improving their conventional capabilities such as armored unit tactics; artillery and rocket-fire support without line-of-sight availability; large-scale logistics movements; coordinating close air support; and providing artillery-forward observation, surveillance and reconnaissance with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and urban warfare.”

How are the PKK and YPG obtaining these advanced weapons? Gurcan writes, "A hard reality everyone knows but doesn’t talk about is the weapons black markets that have blossomed in Syria and Iraq, where one can buy or lease any weapons system including tanks and multi-barreled rocket launchers. Particularly widespread in Syria is the sale in bazaars of guns and ammunition sent to opposition armed groups or exchanges with other groups. US, European and Iranian weapons and ammunition supplied to armed groups such as Kurdish peshmerga forces, the Iraqi army and Shiite militias are sometimes transferred to the PKK or sold on the market. One must also not ignore the PKK/YPG war booty of weapons and equipment — especially from their clashes with IS.”

Khaled al-Khateb reports from the front lines with the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army near al-Bab that the fight against IS has been difficult. IS fighters are dug in and the Turkish effort is complicated by the role of Syrian Kurdish forces. “The forces leading Operation Euphrates Shield,” Khateb writes, “which include FSA factions and special Turkish forces, have been at odds with the [Syrian Democratic Forces] SDF, of which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) constitute the backbone. Turkish officials consider the SDF a threat to Turkey’s security as the organization is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which Turkey considers a terrorist group. The interests of Turkey and the FSA are similar, as they both fear the SDF’s separatist goals.”

Al-Monitor goes deep on Syrian Kurds

In the first of a new series of long-form, in-depth articles, Amberin Zaman describes the complexity of Kurdish regional dynamics from firsthand reporting in Syria and Iraq, including the rationale behind what Syrian Kurdish leaders now call the “Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.”

“Cynics say the change is a ruse to mask Kurdish domination over the area,” Zaman reports. “Rojava’s leaders say the federation is a blueprint for the secular, egalitarian, multi-ethnic and federal plan they giddily imagine for the rest of Syria. Most people still call the place Rojava, and its administrators make no secret of their desire to dilute decades of government-enforced Arabization crafted to efface the Kurds.”

She continues, “Education is a key pillar of this new order, and mandatory schooling in the Arabic language is being phased out. Kurds, who make up the largest ethnic group in Rojava, are finally receiving education in the long-banned Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish that is spoken here. Arabs continue to send their children to Arabic schools while Syrian Orthodox Christians, also known as Syriacs, tutor their children in their own tongue.”

“In practice, things are a lot fuzzier,” Zaman observes. “Young Kurdish students are easily immersed in Kurdish-language education, though the program remains very much in the pilot stage. But Kurdish and Syriac high school students who are caught in the middle continue their schooling in Arabic-language facilities affiliated with the Syrian Ministry of Education. Only these schools, which include the Taleyah lycee, offer diplomas that are internationally recognized.”

The Kurdish administered regions of Syria have become laboratories for the revolutionary, egalitarian ideas of “Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Turkish-Kurdish rebel group called the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). When Ocalan and his comrades set up the PKK in 1978, they said they would be fighting for an independent Kurdistan that would unite the Kurds of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. But over time the PKK scaled back its ambitions as geopolitical realities set in. Ocalan now preaches a radical brand of communalism that rejects ethnic nationalism and national borders and encourages gender equality and environmental friendliness in their stead."

She adds that Ocalan’s world view is influenced in by the “late American libertarian socialist Murray Bookchin. Yet for all its talk of diversity, Rojava is unabashedly Kurdish, its leadership is top-down,” and the PKK is clearly at the top.

Syria’s Kurds also have a complicated relationship with the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“Massoud Barzani, Iraqi Kurdistan’s president and the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on which the KDP-S was modeled, is well liked throughout Rojava and especially in Derik and its environs, where the yellow KDP banner flutters above entire villages,” Zaman reports. “Muhammad Yusuf, who runs a small shop that sells mobile phone accessories, said cellphone covers with Barzani’s face sell in numbers equal to those featuring Ocalan. Barzani owes his popularity above all to his father, the legendary Kurdish warrior Mullah Mustafa Barzani, a central figure in the Kurds’ struggle for freedom. But Barzani’s friendship with Turkey and hostility to the PYD are beginning to dent his image here. Still, Barzani is lobbying the United States to pressure Rojava’s leaders to let back in some 3,000 KDP-S fighters he helped arm and train. The aim, Barzani says, is to unify the Kurds. Critics counter that it is to shatter the PYD’s monopoly over power to his own advantage. The Rojava administration says it will allow the KDP-S forces to return provided they agree to fall under their command. But they won’t.”

Zaman’s exclusive report is part of Al-Monitor’s expansive offerings to provide the most extensive coverage of the Middle East. As always, any feedback is appreciated at contactus.


Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees — Separating Fact from Hysteria

The hysterical rhetoric about President Trump’s executive order on refugees is out of control. Let’s slow down and take a look at the facts.

To read the online commentary, one would think that President Trump just fundamentally corrupted the American character. You would think that the executive order on refugees he signed yesterday betrayed America’s Founding ideals. You might even think he banned people from an entire faith from American shores.

Just look at the rhetoric. Here’s Chuck Schumer: If you thought only Senator Schumer saw tears in Lady Liberty’s eyes, think again.

Here’s Nancy Pelosi: CNN, doing its best Huffington Post impersonation, ran a headline declaring “Trump bans 134,000,000 from the U.S.” The Huffington Post, outdoing itself, just put the Statue of Liberty upside down on its front page.

So, what did Trump do? Did he implement his promised Muslim ban? No, far from it. He backed down dramatically from his campaign promises and instead signed an executive order dominated mainly by moderate refugee restrictions and temporary provisions aimed directly at limiting immigration from jihadist conflict zones.

Let’s analyze the key provisions, separate the fact from the hysteria, and introduce just a bit of historical perspective.

First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year.

Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms.

In 2002, the United States admitted only 27,131 refugees. It admitted fewer than 50,000 in 2003, 2006, and 2007.

As for President Obama, he was slightly more generous than President Bush, but his refugee cap from 2013 to 2015 was a mere 70,000, and in 2011 and 2012 he admitted barely more than 50,000 refugees himself.

The bottom line is that Trump is improving security screening and intends to admit refugees at close to the average rate of the 15 years before Obama’s dramatic expansion in 2016. Obama’s expansion was a departure from recent norms, not Trump’s contraction.

Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments.

The ban is in place while the Department of Homeland Security determines the “information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.”

It could, however, be extended or expanded depending on whether countries are capable of providing the requested information.

The ban, however, contains an important exception: “Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”

In other words, the secretaries can make exceptions — a provision that would, one hopes, fully allow interpreters and other proven allies to enter the U.S. during the 90-day period.

To the extent this ban applies to new immigrant and non-immigrant entry, this temporary halt (with exceptions) is wise. We know that terrorists are trying to infiltrate the ranks of refugees and other visitors.

We know that immigrants from Somalia, for example, have launched jihadist attacks here at home and have sought to leave the U.S. to join ISIS.

Indeed, given the terrible recent track record of completed and attempted terror attacks by Muslim immigrants, it’s clear that our current approach is inadequate to control the threat.

Unless we want to simply accept Muslim immigrant terror as a fact of American life, a short-term ban on entry from problematic countries combined with a systematic review of our security procedures is both reasonable and prudent.

However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks.

The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.

Third, Trump’s order also puts an indefinite hold on admission of Syrian refugees to the United States “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.”

This is perhaps the least consequential aspect of his order — and is largely a return to the Obama administration’s practices from 2011 to 2014. For all the Democrats’ wailing and gnashing of teeth, until 2016 the Obama administration had already largely slammed the door on Syrian-refugee admissions.

The Syrian Civil War touched off in 2011. Here are the Syrian-refugee admissions to the U.S. until Obama decided to admit more than 13,000 in 2016: Fiscal Year 2011: 29 Fiscal Year 2012: 31 Fiscal Year 2013: 36 Fiscal Year 2014: 105 Fiscal Year 2015: 1,682 To recap: While the Syrian Civil War was raging, ISIS was rising, and refugees were swamping Syria’s neighbors and surging into Europe, the Obama administration let in less than a trickle of refugees.

Only in the closing days of his administration did President Obama reverse course — in numbers insufficient to make a dent in the overall crisis, by the way — and now the Democrats have the audacity to tweet out pictures of bleeding Syrian children? It’s particularly gross to see this display when the Obama administration’s deliberate decision to leave a yawning power vacuum — in part through its Iraq withdrawal and in part through its dithering throughout the Syrian Civil War — exacerbated the refugee crisis in the first place.

There was a genocide on Obama’s watch, and his tiny trickle of Syrian refugees hardly makes up for the grotesque negligence of abandoning Iraq and his years-long mishandling of the emerging Syrian crisis.

When we know our enemy is seeking to strike America and its allies through the refugee population, when we know they’ve succeeded in Europe, and when the administration has doubts about our ability to adequately vet the refugees we admit into this nation, a pause is again not just prudent but arguably necessary.

It is important that we provide sufficient aid and protection to keep refugees safe and healthy in place, but it is not necessary to bring Syrians to the United States to fulfill our vital moral obligations.

Fourth, there is a puzzling amount of outrage over Trump’s directive to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

In other words, once refugee admissions resume, members of minority religions may well go to the front of the line. In some countries, this means Christians and Yazidis. In others, it can well mean Muslims.

Sadly, during the Obama administration it seems that Christians and other minorities may well have ended up in the back of the line. For example, when Obama dramatically expanded Syrian refugee admissions in 2016, few Christians made the cut: The Obama administration has resettled 13,210 Syrian refugees into the United States since the beginning of 2016 — an increase of 675 percent over the same 10-month period in 2015. Of those, 13,100 (99.1 percent) are Muslims — 12,966 Sunnis, 24 Shi’a, and 110 other Muslims — and 77 (0.5 percent) are Christians. Another 24 (0.18 percent) are Yazidis.

As a point of reference, in 2015 Christians represented roughly 10 percent of Syria’s population. Perhaps there’s an innocent explanation for the disparity. Perhaps not. But one thing is clear — federal asylum and refugee law already require a religious test. As my colleague Andy McCarthy has repeatedly pointed out, an alien seeking asylum “must establish that . . . religion [among other things] . . . was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.”

Similarly, the term “refugee” means “(A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to return to . . . that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of . . . religion [among other things] . . . [.]”

But don’t tell CNN’s chief national security correspondent, who last night tweeted this: False. False. False. Religious considerations are by law part of refugee policy. And it is entirely reasonable to give preference (though not exclusivity) to members of minority religions.

Finally, you can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban. It’s not there.

Nowhere. At its most draconian, it temporarily halts entry from jihadist regions. In other words, Trump’s executive order is a dramatic climb-down from his worst campaign rhetoric. You can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban.

It’s not there. Nowhere. To be sure, however, the ban is deeply problematic as applied to legal residents of the U.S. and to interpreters and other allies seeking refuge in the United States after demonstrated (and courageous) service to the United States.

Twitter timelines are coming alive with stories of Iraqi interpreters who’ve saved American lives. Few have bled more in alliance with America than Iraq’s Kurds, but the order itself provides for the necessary case-by-case exemptions to the temporary blanket bans. It is vital that General John Kelly, the newly confirmed secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, move expeditiously to protect those who’ve laid down their lives in the war against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. Given his own wartime experience, I believe and hope that he will. Trump’s order was not signed in a vacuum. Look at the Heritage Foundation’s interactive timeline of Islamist terror plots since 9/11. Note the dramatic increase in planned and executed attacks since 2015.

Now is not the time for complacency. Now is the time to take a fresh look at our border-control and immigration policies. Trump’s order isn’t a betrayal of American values. Applied correctly and competently, it can represent a promising fresh start and a prelude to new policies that protect our nation while still maintaining American compassion and preserving American friendships. —

David French is a staff writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.



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