In implementing the travel ban, President Trump moved to protect our nation in a way consistent with previous administrations. Additionally, he had to do so in such a way as to not forewarn. Now, having sprung the trap, Trump should explain to our ally in the Mid-East what the plan was, is, and will be regarding their cooperation in the struggle against ISIS.
In 1952 over Truman’s veto the Democrat-controlled Congress passed the McCarran-Walter Act. This act gives the President the power to ban immigration in the interests of the United States. Jimmy Carter used that law to deport 15,000 Iranian students in 1979 and close that border between our countries. Barack Obama used similar authority to ban Iraqi refugee settlement for six months in 2011.
The only thing unprecedented about President Trump’s use of this authority is that a Republican is using it.
The use of the authority had to be sudden and without warning in order to avoid tipping-off the bad guys — the object of the Executive Order. The ban is temporary for seven countries’ ordinary movement and for several others in regard to refugees for 120 days. Syrian immigration is indefinitely banned.
Iraq is under a ninety day ban. Iraq has been and continues to be our ally against ISIS and our friend in the region. The Obama Administration ignored this fact to our peril and let Iraq drift in the region. The Trump Administration must renew this close friendship soonest.
As we have effectively withdrawn our presence from Iraq during the Obama Administration, the Iraqis have necessarily sought other friends in the region to protect themselves externally while they alone fight our mutual fight internally against ISIS. To this end, Iran has been gaining influence in Iraq over the past several years and it is our own fault.
Too many in this country view Iraq through the prism of Shi’ism and, because the majority of Iraq and Iran share a sect of Islam, they must be friends and allies to the end — practically the same country.
This ignores the unique and powerful Iraqi sense if itself as an ancient nationality of Mesopotamians; as the successors of the Babylonians; and, as a strong and independent people in the region. It also ignores the strong cultural and racial differences between the Arab Iraqis and the Persian Iranians. Last, this view ignores the history of wars between the two and the reasons for those wars.
Politicians and military planners have adopted the term “Shi’a Militias” in order to conveniently lump the two peoples together. Because of the Obama Administration policy of estrangement from the Iraqis, there is some truth to the political and military joining of the Iraqis and Iranians recently. However, the extent to which they are the permanently joined is exaggerated by those that really do not understand the Iraqis well.
Further, this state of affairs is nothing that a renewed and vigorous friendship from the United States could not overcome in time.
We must undertake this effort soonest if for no other reason than to further isolate Iran and pressure changes within the regime in Tehran. The Russians must be brought into this effort as well.
President Trump should travel to the region soonest — specifically Baghdad. He should pay a state visit to Prime Minister Abadi and explain the policy, the reasons for which it was “sprung” on the world and our future together.
He should give a speech there and stress the following points:
1) Our renewed and continuing and strong friendship with Iraq;
2) Our need to revamp and re-energize our vetting policies and practices performed at our embassies in the region long atrophied by the Obama Administration’s policies;
3) Our need to do this quickly and with surprise unfortunately discomforting the people of Iraq;
4) The temporary nature of the policy and the fact that it is not aimed at the Iraqi people but at the bad actors present in Iraq and using our relationship to gain entry to the United States;
5) The bright future of Iraq/US relations; and,
6) The rejoining the fight against ISIS and working with our ally Iraq in a way that they need us to act and have needed us for some time – no more leading from behind.
It would be great that President Trump’s first official trip abroad would be to the same region that President Obama made his first trip. However, instead of apologizing for fighting despotism and radical terrorists, President Trump can talk about our future together — a hopeful visit and a strong presence.
Michael Patrick Flanagan represented the 5th District of Illinois in the historic 104th Congress. Prior to his Congressional Service, Michael was commissioned in the United States Army Field Artillery. Michael and his firm, Flanagan Consulting LLC, have represented both large and small corporations, organizations, and associations. In 2009, Michael entered public service again with the United States Department of State in Iraq as the Senior Rule of Law Advisor on the Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Maysan, Iraq. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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