Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump likened the threat posed to the U.S. by Islamist terrorism to that of communism during the Cold War period and pledged measures that mirror American tactics from that era if elected President. He called for an ideological screening before immigrants or visitors were admitted into the U.S., and termed the proposed idea “extreme vetting.”
“A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people. In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today,” he said. He added that until the new measures are put in place, immigration from countries affected by terrorism would be suspended.
No details were given on how a person’s beliefs could be ascertained, but Mr. Trump’s promise sounded like a new form of McCarthyism — the drive against suspected Communists spearheaded by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Mr. Trump said an administration led by him would set up a Commission on Radical Islam “to expose the networks in our society that support radicalisation”.
Prior to the McCarthy-ian purge of alleged Communist sympathisers, the U.S. House of Representatives had set up in 1938 an Un-American Activities Committee, which was abolished in 1975. Mr. Trump reiterated his position that members of the Muslim community are aware of who the potential terrorists are.
The proposed commission “will include reformist voices in the Muslim community who will hopefully work with us”, said Mr. Trump. “We want to build bridges and erase divisions.”
Mr. Trump’s scripted speech on combating radical Islamism sought to define his candidacy in terms of the biggest American concern — terrorism — and called for a global coalition based on that single issue. He said common ground must be found with Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin.
Disadvantage in polls
Mr. Trump is performing badly in opinion polls even as his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton appears turning many Republican States in her favour. According to one analysis by NBC News based on all opinion polls, even if Mr. Trump manages to win all the States that are currently a toss-up between the two, he will still fall short of the required number of electoral college voters in November.
Mr. Trump also linked the rise of Islamist terrorism to the West Asia policy of the Obama administration, of which Ms. Clinton was a part as Secretary of State. “The Obama-Clinton foreign policy has unleashed the ISIS, destabilised the Middle East, and put the nation of Iran — which chants ‘Death to America’ — in a dominant position of regional power and, in fact, aspiring to be a dominant world power,” he said.
Mr. Trump also accused Mr. Obama of being soft on Islamist groups, and even blamed his outreach to Muslim societies for the rise in terrorism. “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour’,” the Republican said, referring to a historic speech by Mr. Obama to the Muslim World in Cairo, Egypt.
“In winning the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan repeatedly touted the superiority of freedom over communism, and called the USSR the Evil Empire. Yet, when President Obama delivered his address in Cairo, no such moral courage could be found. ,” Mr. Trump said.
He accused Ms. Clinton of accepting “millions of dollars in foundation donations from countries where being gay is an offense punishable by prison or death”. He said his administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith.