Retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, who met with President Donald Trump during the transition period for a possible appointment, is complaining that Trump’s temporary travel ban has an “undercurrent of loathing for the Muslim world.”
In an op-ed for the Boston Globe published Monday, Stavridis said that while he’s willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the good intentions of Trump and his inner circle, at the same time, the executive order temporarily suspending travel from seven majority-Muslim countries comes off as confusing, disturbing, arbitrary and not very compassionate.
“I am deeply disturbed by the general tone and thrust of the executive orders that, at least on initial read, seem to ban significant classes of people because of their religion, or prioritize one religion over another,” Stavridis wrote. “I do not agree with decisions that simply close off any migration here from a particular nation, no matter the situation or background of the individual applying for a visa or refugee status.”
Moreover, for Stavridis, the choice of seven Muslim countries for the travel suspension appears arbitrary. As some commentators have pointed out, it’s difficult to imagine the United States winning the war on terror without tackling countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Qatar, especially because those regions are hotbeds for Sunni Islamic radicalism. Virtually all terror groups that have launched attacks on Western countries can trace their roots back to this area.
Stavridis also argued that the travel suspension runs afoul of international law to “respect the right of legitimate refugees to have a free and fair hearing as to the circumstances of their situation before being rejected for entry.”
Besides, Stavridis said there are benefits to allowing entrance to risk-taking refugees, who are creative thinkers and determined individuals.
“It takes enormous courage and endurance to take your 4-year-old son’s hand, put your 2-year-old daughter on your back, smile encouragingly at your wife, and walk a thousand kilometers across Syria to a refugee center in Turkey,” Stavridis said. “I want that person on my team.”
Interestingly, Stavridis was a much-discussed potential cabinet member in the Trump administration, but in an interview with MSNBC in December, he said he doesn’t think he’ll be joining the team, despite initially saying he would be willing to serve. He is continuing to serve in his role as dean of Tuft University’s Fletcher School.
At the time, the speculation was that he was in the running for the position of secretary of state, though that spot ended up going to former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Stavridis was also under consideration to be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
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