Home/Why Is Iran Part of the Ban?

Why Is Iran Part of the Ban?

There are many things that could be said about Trump’s travel ban, and most of them have already been said in multiple venues, including by TAC‘s own Daniel Larison. I just want to highlight again one item: nearly half of those affected by the ban come from Iran, a country that is not experiencing Islamist violence, that is not producing large numbers of refugees, and from which we have no particular reason to suspect terrorists might be planning to sneak into America.

I can think of legitimate reasons why Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan were not included (all major regional allies whose cooperation we need), as well as Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Russia (at that point, you might as well ban the world), all of which have produced home-grown Islamist terrorists who might travel to America — or already have. Those reasons do tend to undermine the argument that, even if it had been rolled out in a more prudent and less gratuitously-cruel manner, the ban was a sensible way to protect American security — but let’s grant that being extra cautious about people coming from a war zone isn’t obviously crazy, and that we should be able to argue like civilized people about how to balance helping people facing death versus protecting ourselves from wolves who may be hiding among the sheep.

But it seems to me that anyone arguing with a straight face that the ban was about protecting America from terrorists should be arguing — among other things — that Iran doesn’t belong on the list. Yet this is the only mention of Iran in David French’s defense of Trump’s order (which is probably the best defense I’ve read so far):

[T]he 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.

That’s it. Iran is a “hostile, jihadist government” so we should presume all Iranians are a security risk.

This is why I’m going to continue to assume that a primary reason for the ban in the first place was to provoke Iranian retaliation, with the ultimate goal that poisoned relations will eventually provide a pretext for war.

Regular readers know I was very clear in calling out the Democratic candidate’s enthusiasm for conflict with Iran. I have zero reason to trust that this administration is any less enthused, and I interpret their actions accordingly.

about the author

Noah Millman, senior editor, is an opinion journalist, critic, screenwriter, and filmmaker who joined The American Conservative in 2012. Prior to joining TAC, he was a regular blogger at The American Scene. Millman’s work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Week, Politico, First Things, Commentary, and on The Economist’s online blogs. He lives in Brooklyn.

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