Following the Brussels attacks earlier this year, many presidential hopefuls took the opportunity to express condolences and condemn the incident. Some pushed policies regarding ways to combat terrorism. In the wake of such a momentous tragedy, voters are certainly taking heed of what the threat of ISIS means for the next commander in chief. Republicans seeking answers — especially from their party's front-runner — are set to be sorely disappointed, however. What is Donald Trump's plan to beat ISIS? The Donald appears to be all talk and little substance despite touting his “tough on ISIS“ policies as being the only way to defeat them.
You'd think a candidate riding high on the success of his oration would use his campaign site to further a message millions are clamoring to hear. Well, you'd be wrong. A perusal of Trump's official website leaves much to be desired when it comes to laying out substantial plans. Not once is combating ISIS touched upon in Trump's list of positions, which include immigration reform as well as Veterans Administration reform. Opening the tab of “issues“ offers half-minute videos more akin to soundbites than fully-fledged policies. The closest voters get to even getting a meager position on defeating ISIS is in a 23-second video on the military. In it, Trump says:
I'm going to make our military so big, so powerful, so strong, that nobody — absolutely nobody — is going to mess with us. We're gong to take care of our vets and we're going to get rid of ISIS. We're going to get rid of them. Fast. Just how, exactly will the United States swiftly get rid of ISIS under a Trump administration? Based on previous debates, interviews, and rallies, you can meagerly piece together what appears to be a policy. Here's what Trump has had to say in the past about concrete ways to thwart the threat of terrorism:
Take Its Oil
Trump is firmly dedicated to hitting ISIS where it hurts — and not just in combat. During an interview on ABC's This Week last November, the Donald stated that one of the biggest ways to beat the extremist organization is to stunt their stream of revenue by preventing ISIS from receiving gains on oil. Trump said:
I’m looking to take the oil. I want to take the oil. I want the oil. We have to stop the source of money, and the source of money is oil... We’re going to have to take away the energy, the fuel, the money from ISIS. The oil grab concept certainly makes sense, though Trump has done little to expand upon that policy other than turn the phrase into a campaign ad with the added bonus of the visceral phrase “cut the head off ISIS,“ as if it were some kind of hydra.
Ban All Muslims From Entering
The controversial plea to prevent Muslims from entering the United States “until we can figure out what is going on“ would've been the death of a campaign for any other candidate but Trump. The Donald released a statement calling for a xenophobic policy that targets an entire religion in December and has since only doubled down on that plan.
His response to the Brussels attacks included demanding that Muslims in the country be watched and that surveillance be put in place across all mosques in America. Though the statement was made as somewhat a hypothetical — essentially, what a President Trump would do were a similar attack to occur on American soil — it is nonetheless incredibly troubling. Once again, Trump offers little elaboration on how he plans to enact this policy.
Bring Back Waterboarding
Waterboarding was also brought back on the table following the Brussels attacks. In fact, the torturous practice was one of the first suggestions Trump had regarding ways to combat ISIS in the face of a terrorist threat in the United States. Despite the fact that the technique is not only condemned but illegal, the Donald saw little standing in the way of him implementing it as a tactic. In a phone interview with The Today Show, Trump had this to say about waterboarding:
Waterboarding would be fine. If they can expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people. The implication that Trump would make torture even more far-reaching were the laws to change in his favor if elected is certainly chilling. Little else has been said regarding other techniques Trump is in favor of that present ethical problems such as waterboarding.
Keep ISIS Offline
v Very few politicians are savvy about technological issues with offline implications, such as encryption and access. Trump certainly falls in the majority. He's taken his shoddy understanding of the Internet shutdown and turned it into an anti-ISIS policy. As far as the Donald's thinking goes, the United States invented the Internet, thus they should be able to unequivocally control it. Being that the Internet is one of the most effective ways for ISIS to spread their message, Trump suggested preventing them from logging on the first place. He had this to say at a CNN GOP debate in December:
What I wanted to do is, I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they're doing... We should be using our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds, to figure a way that ISIS cannot use the Internet... We should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is and everything about ISIS. We can do that if we use our good people. Trump has yet to detail how he'd fulfill that tall hacking order.
The Donald was on a roll in December, especially when it came to listing off problematic suggestions to combat ISIS in ways that sound less like a defense plan and more like a war crime. In an interview on Fox & Friends, Trump blasted political correctness and suggested that one of the best ways to beat ISIS was to take out families of extremists. This strategy is incredibly alarming, in addition to once again revealing the minimal forethought behind Trump's anti-terrorism policies, none of which have been compiled or made readily available by the Trump campaign.