Sen. John McCain doesn’t object to President Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries strictly on ethical principles. McCain’s concerns are more pragmatic. McCain, famously a former POW, believes that Trump’s ban — and the message it sends internationally — hobbles the United States in its effort to battle terrorism. One of the chief initiatives under way by Western powers is to slow the recruitment of would-be jihadists. Online and elsewhere, ISIL and other like-minded groups work tirelessly to radicalize disaffected Muslim youth. Without these recruits, their power to cause harm is drastically reduced. McCain’s concern about Trump’s ill-considered executive order banning immigration is that it will work against the US and help recruitment and radicalization.
McCain’s joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed this issue directly. The four-paragraph statement concludes with this:
“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”