During a Wednesday news conference in Argentina, President Barack Obama succinctly broke down why two ideas Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been propounding are bad ones.
In the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels that left at least 31 dead and 271 wounded, Cruz reiterated his support for carpet bombing ISIS. And on the domestic front, Cruz called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.”
With respect to the former, aside from the fact that indiscriminate bombing is a war crime, Obama explained that carpet bombing would only serve to perpetuate the cycle of radicalization that results in terrorism in the first place.
“When I hear somebody saying we should carpet bomb Iraq or Syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for ISIL to recruit more people willing to die and explode bombs in an airport,” Obama said.
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It should be mentioned, however, that Obama has been criticized for overseeing a drone strike program that lacks transparency, relies on incomplete intelligence, and has killed American citizens without due process, so the president’s moral high ground on the issue isn’t absolute.
And with respect to Cruz’s proposal to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods,” Obama pointed out that Cruz himself should understand the dangers of such an idea better than just about anyone.
“As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance,” Obama said. “Which by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped, for America, the land of the free. The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense. It’s contrary to who we are, and it’s not going to help us defeat ISIL.”
Left unmentioned by Obama is the fact that a similar surveillance program implemented by the New York Police Department after September 11 was a bust. The Associated press reported that more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations, and cataloging mosques never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.