Why is Saudi Arabia not on the travel ban?

Robert Maynard

For those of us who love liberty, the Trump Presidency has been a mixed bag.  Taking on the global warming fanatics is a welcome, but I am a bit wary about the extent to which he insists that his current moves are all about protecting us.  It is an historical fact that people are willing to give up essential liberty to achieve security.  As Ben Franklin warned us “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”  Of course we need to take security seriously, but we need to question those who seek to play savior by preying on our fears.  If we are to keep both our liberty and our security, we should take a closer look at how we go about assessing security threats and how our leaders propose to deal with them.  Let us start with the War of Terror.

Bin Laden thought that he could  mobilize the whole Islamic world behind a Jihadi crusade with his 9/11 attack.  He failed miserably!  There are about 1.5 to 2 billion Muslims in the world.  Can anyone even begin to imagine what the terrorist death count would be like if a sizable number heeded the call?  As it stands now, the actual physical threat posed by Jihadis is MUCH smaller than some political leaders would have us believe.  See this report from the Cato Institute: https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa798_2.pdf  Frank Gaffney’s “Center for Security Policycommissioned a book about the threat of Sharia.  In that book they pointed out that Indonesian groups like Nahdlatul Ulama had a different interpretation of Sharia than the Jihadis did.  They also pointed out that the key to winning this battle is to align with groups like N.U.  They are the largest Muslim organization in the world with a membership in excess of 50 million. yet they get no attention.  The Jihadis fear that they may get some traction.  N.U. formed the LibForAll Foundation as their educational outreach arm.  The co-founder is not even a Muslim, but a libertarian type from South Carolina.  After reading one of their newsletters it became clear that the concepts of Sharia and Fique were being confused and there was a relationship between the too akin to our distinction between “Natural Law” and “Positive Law”.  One is a set of universal principles and the other is a time bound codification of those principles into actual law in a given historical context.  When I contacted the LibForAll Foundation I suggested that they seek to make this connection and enlist an ecumenical coalition to push back against the Jihadi interpretation.  That suggestion was warmly welcomed.

In sum, I think that we need to reach out to agreeable Muslims with the Natural Law based principles of our Declaration of Independence and stop doing the Jihadis a favor by lumping Islam itself in with the Jihadis.  One thing the left is right about, is that this is a big recruitment tool for the Jihadis.  This is a conclusion also reached by the Rand Corporation, who released a report called “Building Moderate Muslim Networks.”  The report makes three points about areas of focus that I would like to address.  One is the desirability of partnering with Sufi Muslims, two is focusing on Muslims from SE Asia (Indonesia in particular) and finally looking at the role of America Muslims.  I have been digging into all three areas and have been giving permission to represent Indonesia’s “LibForAll Foundation” in North America.  In addition, we had Dr. Judhi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy on the old True North Radio show several times.  Dr. Jasser played a key role in starting the Muslin Reform Movement.

I think that it is a very big strategic mistake for Jihadi opponents to lump Islam itself all together with the Jihadis.  The so-called Caliphate and leader of ISIS bases his whole recruitment strategy on this blurring of any distinction and seeks to win over the Muslim world where Bin Laden failed.  So far ISIS’s failure has been even more catastrophic.  Muslims are abandoning Islam by the boatload and many say that ISIS is a big reason.  Christian missionaries report more conversions from Islam than in all previous periods combined.  Al Jazeera website shows programing where Muslim expert bemoan an estimate that there are about 200 million to 300 million underground Christians in the Middle East.  Not all are converting to Christianity, some are becoming atheist and others are flocking to Mosques  that preach a message counter to the one preached by ISIS.  The radicalized hard core are turning to ISIS, but most Muslims are turned off by them.  If we were smart, we would  helping to drive a wedge between the majority Muslim population and ISIS, instead of driving that wedge between us and the majority Muslim population and aiding ISIS in its recruitment.

One particular problem we have is that none of the countries on the recent travel ban have a history of attacking us, but Saudi Arabia does, and they are not on that ban despite the larger number of 9/11 attackers who came from there.  Furthermore, we remember the accusation against Hillary during the campaign that she was taking money from nations who supported ISIS:

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton sent an email to her campaign chairman John Podesta in 2014, who was then-counselor to President Barack Obama, that said Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both giving financial and logistical support to the Islamic State and other extremist Sunni groups, according to a recent Wikileaks release.

It is not just Hillary who is caught in the Saudi lobbying web:

As reported earlier, the Saudi government’s enormous lobbying force has grown to include 14 firms as it works to pressure lawmakers into revising a new law that enables victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue the kingdom for its alleged role in aiding the hijackers. Yesterday, the Daily Caller put a spotlight on one front in that far-reaching Saudi campaign: a series of op-ed pieces penned by military and national security veterans that use identical sentences to make their points.

Now, not only did the Trump Administration fail to include Saudi Arabia in its travel ban, but it is even undoing some reigns that Obama imposed on them:

The Trump administration is poised to move quickly to approve major weapons packages for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that President Obama blocked during his final months in office over human rights concerns in both nations, U.S. officials and congressional sources say.

While the White House declined to discuss its plans, one U.S. official directly involved in the transfers told The Washington Times that a roughly $300 million precision-guided missile technology package for Riyadh and a multibillion-dollar F-16 deal for Bahrain are now in the pipeline ready for clearance from the new administration.

Do we really think that potential allies in the fight against Jihadism are blind to this blatant hypocrisy?  They are smart enough “follow the money:”

A golf course bearing Trump’s name is set to open in Dubai in the near future, with a second to follow next year. His hotel company hopes to build in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The governments of Bahrain and Kuwait have spent money to celebrate events at his DC hotel.

There’s no evidence that Trump’s decision was driven by business concerns. The seven nations the executive order applies to — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — were already flagged by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department as either official sponsors of terrorism or “countries of concern,” and singled out in a law Congress passed in 2015 meant to make it more difficult for people who’d passed through those countries to enter the United States.

They may have been singled out, but the evidence against Saudi Arabia is far greater.  The biggest difference is that Saudi Arabia can buy off our politicians, while those poorer nations cannot.  Who is going to take our assertions of national security seriously when our leaders can be paid to ignore the biggest threats?

2 thoughts on “Why is Saudi Arabia not on the travel ban?

  1. Good post Robert. I wish some of our Republican colleagues would digest it, instead of whipping up “us versus them” hysteria about all Muslims on social media. Surgical removal of ISIS will never happen if we don’t focus on who the actual enemy is.

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