Trump and the dismantling of international order and diplomacy
President Trump’s recent executive order banning refugees from the United State and slamming a visa ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries, even though extremely cruel, harsh and unwarranted, could be considered to be just a ‘‘vintage Trump”outrageous and woefully ignorant action. However, this travesty contravenes the U.S. Constitution, International Law and Natural Law. Natural Law is based on the concept that notions of right and wrong are universal. The discriminatory nature and retroactive application, rendered null and void, legal and valid U.S. entry permits, absent legal or moral culpability of the holders. Furthermore, those who were denied entry into the U.S. will automatically fall into the category of “persona non grata,” a branding which will likely follow them for the rest of their lives. The boorish move prompted the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to give Trump a free and timely tutorial on the Geneva Convention on Refugees, to which the U.S. is a signatory. The debacle also caused the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to indicate her intention to look into its legality as it affects UK nationals.
The ill-conceived and ill-executed executive order has been met with growing worldwide derision and condemnation, underscoring the hubris, impulsiveness and incompetence of the Trump administration. At no stage was the arbitrary and inordinate action, made the subject ofprior joint planning or coordination with relevant U.S. government agencies. American embassies in the affected countries, which had issued entry permits in good faith and after multi-layers of due diligence screening, were circumvented and clueless. When asked to explain why the seven countries were singled out as none of their nationals had committed any acts of terror on U.S. soil, in contrast to nationals of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt, who were excluded from the executive order, the cowardly, cynical and hypocritical explanation of the new administration was that those countries were on a watch list drew up by the Obama Administration. Thisexplanation is disingenuous and duplicitous and smacks of neglect and dereliction of duty on the part of the Trump administration.
The appropriate functionaries should have carried out their independent investigations to garner cutting edge and up to date intelligence, instead of relying “in toto “on left over data from the Obama administration. A significant part of Trump’s Presidential campaign was basedon undermining the Obama administration, since in his iron cast opinion, Obama could do no right and was responsible for most, if not all of the current afflictions of the American society. Therefore, “repeal and replace” became the slogan and “cause célèbre” of his campaign. Why then use his list to carry out such extreme measures? According to National Security experts, this ill-considered strategy is totally unfit for purpose and counterproductive. The most likely effect to be expected is that the “blanket ban” will provide ammunition for terrorist groups in their recruitment efforts, as the religious divide will be deepened. Furthermore, itis certain to alienate potential domestic collaborators on the ground, without whose invaluable assistance, the war on terror is bound to fail.
Presumably, most of President Trump’s higher echelon, which the U.S. media have dubbed the “billionaire club,” have spent all their days in five star accommodations, at the minimum, amidst abundance and in safety and security. They areall deafeningly silent and appear to be unmoved. The same is true of their underlings, who in very cavalier fashion, brush aside the far reaching unfolding human tragedy, with perfunctorily issued platitudes, such as the situation, is a “minor inconvenience.” Having worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva, Switzerland, during which period I was a programme officer for a refugee camp, I am fully aware of the hellish upheaval and devastation suffered by political refugees and their families, as a result of decisions and actions taken by others, which they may not agree with, but which are totally beyond their control.
There is no cogent or logical reason for the embargo. We are left to draw the inescapable conclusion that this latestpersecutory drive, emanated from a perversely puerile desire to make good on a dangerous and misguided campaign threat. This would be much in keeping with the school yard bully who issues a spiteful and untenable dare, believing his ‘‘honour” and “school yard cred” will be boosted by making good on it. Such was the ensuing colossal bumbling and chaos in the wake of the executive order that it was obviously preceded by unrestrained “champing and chafing at the bit.”
The affected governments are justifiably aggrieved and offended, with reciprocal bans being considered by a few. They are not alone. Trump succeeded in trouncing the Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto, across the global stage by taunting him and then delivering an open, deeply humiliating insult to him. The Mexican President had no choice but to cancel a planned visit to Washington DC, however, not before using an expletive publicly in referring to the arrogant and contemptuous demands of his recalcitrant counterpart. President Trump no doubt stunned the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and other NATO members, when he stated that he has the same level of trust for her as the leader of a NATO member as he does for the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was created in 1949 by the U.S., Canada and several Western European nations as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. The treaty was signed in Washington DC. The President of the European Council recently referred to Trump as a threat on par with China, Russia and radical Islam.
These momentousand shocking events have put the world in a tail spin and have turned decade’s long alliances, delicately balanced relationships and painstakingly crafted diplomacy on their heads. Trump has amply demonstrated his deleterious and destructive agenda. In seeking to put his house in order and quench the fires of economic misery and despair in America, he is fully prepared to ignite and conflagrate fires, that may inevitably engulf the planet. Personally, I am reminded of a fairy tale I read as a child, in which in an attempt to force his way into a barred house, the predatory character, would issue a threat to instill fear in the occupants, by uttering the words, “I will huff and puff until I blow your house down.”
Fowler is an international lawyer.