Trump's Travel Ban Will Not 'Help' ISIS Recruitment by Simon Cottee, The Atlantic
The conventional liberal wisdom on the Trump administration’s executive order suspending immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries—also known as “the Muslim ban”—is that the ban is as counterproductive as it is illiberal. The argument, roughly, is that with the order signed on Friday, the Trump administration has “played into the hands” of ISIS and other jihadist groups, giving a boon to their propaganda motif that America is at war with Islam.
This argument is also widely shared among counterterrorism experts and commentators, who worry that the travel ban will imperil “the gray zone” that defines and facilitates the liberal democratic order. The “gray zone,” as conceived by ISIS propagandists, is the liminal—and, as ISIS sees it, fundamentally corrupt—public space in which moderate Muslims and non-Muslims peaceably co-exist.
Trump’s travel ban, his critics claim, puts that zone in grave jeopardy by creating a polarization that risks pushing more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists. The ban, Jessica Stern argued in the Boston Globe, is “likely to make us less safe.” Paul Pillar, a former official at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, echoed this: “[The order] is not targeted at where the threat is, and the anti-Islam message that it sends is more likely to make America less safe.” According to Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst: “All it [the ban] does is help [Islamic State] recruiting.”
On the crucial matter of moral principle, the conventional liberal wisdom is right: The ban is parochial and un-American and will deal a massive injustice to hundreds of genuine asylum-seekers fleeing war and genocide. But the argument that it will aid ISIS recruitment just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny…