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About Those “S***hole” Countries

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President Trump caused a stir when he allegedly referred to some Third World countries as “shitholes” in a recent meeting on immigration reform with congressional leaders. The president used the term to label those countries whose emigrants we’re apparently supposed to shun.

Predictably, the president was called a racist for his remarks. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the president used “hate-filled, vile and racist” words. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – another argument for term limits – says he rebuked the president for his language.

However poorly chosen were the president’s words, he was speaking about areas of the world in a way that most Americans can understand; recognizing the world’s less pleasant places is not a partisan issue, and it’s not a racial issue either. Outrage over his remark is more cant than anything else. After all, where were these sensitive senators when the United States was busy turning stable, secular societies into the kind of place the president described.

In 2002 Lindsey Graham said Saddam Hussein represented “a threat to our way of life,” and supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraq was decimated, and plunged into a civil war. The U.S. turned Iraq into a genuine shithole. An insurgency movement responsible for maiming and killing thousands of Americans – and tens of thousands of Iraqis – has raged for years. It would be hard to find a single factor more responsible for the rise of ISIS. If Graham had his way, Syrians would be the next to benefit from his heartfelt concerns.

Remember Libya? It too was a stable, secular country – until NATO, led by the United States, overthrew its regime and turned it into a shithole. “I think at this point in time, the reports are positive about what we have done,” boasted Senator Durbin in 2011. Into that vacuum swept dozens of violent Islamist militias, slave traders, and ISIS. Libyans are experiencing Trump’s remark first hand. On President Obama’s watch the U.S. bombed seven countries. He ordered over 5,000 air and drone strikes, many of which vaporized innocent men, women, and children, in places like Pakistan and Somalia. All with precious little protest from Senator Durbin.

Disapproval of vulgar statements grabs headlines for political opportunists, but moral preening is a poor substitute for actually caring about foreign peoples. Nobody wants to hear their homeland referred to in the manner attributed to the president. But they also don’t want their country to be invaded, occupied, bombed, reduced to rubble, and turned into “a shithole” by some powerful foreign regime. If given the choice, Libyans, Iraqis, and no shortage of others would choose the president’s candor – however poorly chosen his words – over Graham’s and Durbin’s destructive foreign policy.

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