Trump’s Scare Tactics

In a TV interview, Trump remarked, “I was in Brussels a long time ago — 20 years ago — so beautiful, everything’s so beautiful. It’s like living in a hellhole right now.” He went on to predict further such attacks. “Hellhole” isn’t exactly presidential parlance but the Republican candidate for the presidency doesn’t particularly care about such details.

Trump considers himself vindicated by the attack and convinced that his ideas are the right way to stop them: Seal the borders; issue blanket condemnations of all Muslims and return to torture as a proven deterrent against terrorism. Having won the Arizona primary, Trump is now almost a shoo-in for the Republican nomination. In an interview with NBC, Trump said, “Waterboarding would be fine and if they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding.”

Generally speaking, conservatives in the United States react to attacks with demands for increased security and oversight. Trump and Ted Cruz, the only candidate possibly capable of stopping Trump, are both steadfast adherents of that line. In the face of terror, freedom values no longer matter in the “land of the free.” Ted Cruz naturally also reacted to the attacks: “We don’t need another lecture from President Obama on Islamophobia. We need a Commander in Chief who does everything necessary to defeat the enemy and we need to immediately halt the president’s ill-advised plan to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees.” With the emphasis on Muslim.

Regarding foreign and security policies, neither Trump nor Cruz tend toward detailed evaluation processes. Shortly before the Brussels attacks, Trump gave the Washington Post his foreign policy agenda. He considers the U.N. incompetent, NATO too expensive and the nuclear agreement with Iran John Kerry’s greatest blunder. “At what point do you say, ‘Hey, we have to take care of ourselves?’”

A Realistic Scenario

Trump isn’t the Republican candidate yet and he’s a long way from being president, but betting he will be stopped by Hillary Clinton is dangerous. Blake Hounshell, one of Politico’s leading journalists tweeted, “America may be one major terrorist attack away from Donald Trump as president.” That’s not hysteria, it’s a realistic scenario. Trump, the political newcomer, has constructed his entire campaign on emotion. He banks on the frustrations of those whom life has disappointed and those frightened of foreigners, foreigners who in their view are responsible for America’s decline.

His propaganda on building a wall along the Mexican border is aimed at the same target as is his repeated suggestion that all borders should be closed in case of doubt: “Incompetent Hillary, despite the horrible attack in Brussels today, wants borders to be weak and open – and let the Muslims flow in. No way!”

The fear of another terrorist attack “on American soil” is ever-present. It manifests itself in draconian control laws as it does in the xenophobic feelings in society. A 14-year-old Muslim school student was taken into custody because the homemade clock he built as a school project could possibly have been a bomb.

Clinton Doesn’t Want To Build Walls

The Democrats often take a very pragmatic approach to the question of whether security or liberty is more important to society. After the Brussels attacks, Hillary Clinton took a different approach than the Republicans: “In the face of terror, America doesn’t panic. We don’t build walls or turn our backs on our allies.” She also opposes the resumption of torture as an intelligence gathering tool. The presumptive Democratic candidate for the presidency wants to make the November election be about values and knows she’s not the most popular candidate. It will be no easy task in the face of Trump’s fear-mongering. But in a head to head contest with Trump, Hillary still leads in the opinion polls.

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