Thanks to a ruling by a federal judge, the executive order by President Donald Trump to ban people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States was lifted.
The ban was not only in violation of international conventions, but was also self-defeating as it would have likely exacerbated anti-American sentiments in predominantly Muslim countries and given more excuses to Islamic terrorists to spread their anti-West propaganda.
Maybe Trump doesn’t know this, but six of these seven countries have been bombed or invaded by various US administrations.
In at least two of these countries (Iraq and Libya), there were no terrorist groups until the US invaded them.
And refugees from at least one country (Syria) are fleeing a war where rebels are being armed by the US.
What’s more, no citizen from these countries has carried out a terrorist attack in America.
The majority of the 9/11 attackers, for instance, were Saudis, yet no ban has been imposed on Saudi Arabia.
Is this because the US and Saudi Arabia have a “special relationship” based on oil?
And no ban has been imposed on Pakistan, where the Taliban has set up bases.
On the contrary, Pakistan continues to be a big recipient of US military assistance.
The ban was vindictive and discriminatory, and an affront to America’s reputation as a nation that welcomes immigrants.
However, while we all expected Trump to come up with populist policies aimed at appeasing the racist and xenophobic segments of the population that voted for him, no one quite expected a Republican president of the United States to institute protectionist policies.
The Republican Party, especially since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, has been associated with the hallmarks of anti-protectionism – free trade, deregulation, less state control over market forces and privatisation, otherwise known as neoliberalism.
The problem with neoliberalism is that it usually does not deliver the promise of wealth “trickling down” to the poorest.
On the contrary, it has exacerbated income inequalities.
In the US, unregulated financial institutions nearly crashed the global economy in 2008.
Could it be that Trump wants to reverse this trend? Not quite.
His protectionist policies could just be a knee-jerk strategy to convince Americans that he cares about their jobs, but which neither he nor his globally-connected Cabinet of billionaires can actually implement.
Or perhaps, as American journalist Chris Hedges recently stated at a rally in Washington, the world has entered the “twilight phase of capitalism”, a prediction that is reminiscent of Karl Marx, who said that capitalism would eventually self-destruct and pave the way for “the final stage of prehistory” — communism.
The reason capitalism is failing is because people are no longer making money the good old-fashioned way — by manufacturing goods or providing services; they are making it through manipulating stocks and imposing huge private and public debt on ordinary citizens.
This “casino capitalism”, says Hedges, has merged with the gambling industry, and has, therefore, become parasitic, preying on the most vulnerable and creating more poverty.
Donald Trump, says Hedges, is not an anomaly in this mafia economy; rather he is “the grotesque visage of a collapsed democracy”.
His coterie of billionaires, racists and fascists, he says, “embody the moral rot unleashed by unfettered capitalism”.
Under a Trump presidency, greed, racism, misogyny, hate speech and xenophobia will become normalised.
The elite will rule through fear and dissent will be criminalised. Fascism will become the order of the day.
But need it be this way? I don’t believe so. In recent years, there has been a growing movement of people around the world, from the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters in the United States to grassroots movements in other parts of the world, that are challenging the status quo.
On the so-called “Muslim ban”, I did wonder why none of the seven affected countries responded by ordering a ban on all US nationals entering their countries.
Other countries, in solidarity, could have done the same.
Isolating America could be one way of taming Trump’s demagoguery.
Of course, given that many countries around the world are dependent on US aid, and given the fact that in many of them there is a sizeable US military presence, the instituting of such a tit-for-tat response may have proved to be problematic.
But it could have sent a message to Trump and his supporters that might isn’t always right.