Back in 1991, I found myself in Kuwait for 6 weeks, training staff at the Ministry of the Interior.
In my lunch break and other breaks, I found myself discussing issues with a number of expatriate workers at the Ministry. Included in those workers were a number of IT guys from Pakistan, who were working in Kuwait, not just for the higher salaries, but also because as a Muslim country, Kuwait was aligned with Pakistan.
One issue we touched on in discussions was their view of Christianity. While there seemed to be a whole lot about Christianity that they did not understand (and they understood even less about events in Western Europe, such as the Reformation), one of them said something that stuck with me. (I’m paraphrasing here). “It seems to me that for Western people, your Christianity is only something you do in your spare time. For Western Christians it is almost a hobby, like fishing. For us, Islam is our entire life”. He was trying to explain the total emotional spiritual and intellectual committment to Islam, as part of a debate we were having about the Western tradition of free speech, which, as it turned out, he flat out did not understand.
I was reminded of this discussion when I found myself talking with a person the other day about the whole immigration landscape in the USA. We were discussing the bellicose statements from Donald Trump about deporting 3 million illegal immigrants.
I felt compelled to point out one thing that keeps being overlooked. In order to be able to deport people from a country, you have to have somewhere to deport them to. That usually means another country, unless your plan is to load them onto container ships and have them circling in international waters for ever and a day. What countries would agree to take these 3 million illegals, I wondered.
It was clear that the person I was talking to had never consdered this. His response was bascially “Well, if they came from another country, they should be deported back to that country”.
Well, yes, that all makes sense in a logical fashion. But how will it actually work in practice. Imagine the conversation:
US SoS: Good day Ambassador
Amb: Good day Mr. Secretary
US SoS: Well, we did the math, and we have 234,000 people from your country who are here in the US illegally
US SoS: We intend to start deporting them via sea ports next month
Amb: I see
US SoS: We expect you to accept them
Amb: How do we know they are even from my country? You have proof of their origin?
US SoS: Yes, so you will take them back
Amb: And if we refuse?
US SoS: See that picture? (points to wall upon which is hung a picture of a US Navy carrier group)
Amb: I see. Well, there appear to be 10,000 US citizens in our country at this point in time. If you propose something like that, I do not see how we can guarantee their safety. Then there is the little matter of that covert base that we let the CIA set up in the jungle. We cannot guarantee that base’s safety either.
By the way, after I leave this meeting, I am off to lunch with the Chinese Ambassador. I understand that he has an interesting proposition for some economic assistance that may help my country immensely.
The idea that the USA can start sending hundreds of thousands of people back to their countries of origin is a cloud-cuckooland fantasy. It is a fantasy because no country in its right mind is going to agree to take them back without a very big quid pro quo. This, folks, is how geopolitics works. This is not building hotels, or casinos. It’s a whole lot more subtle, serious and complex than that.
I eventually suggested to my discussion partner that perhaps Trump would need to have a gate in his wall or fence so that he could open it at periodic intervals and push some of those illegals back to Mexico where they obviously came from.
Folks, this is the problem with most of the ideas that Donald Trump has been throwing out there for the last year or more. Not all of his ideas are stupid (although many of them are). The real underlying issue that they have no plan, no thought-out substance to back them up. There is no “plan” to deport 3 million illegals. It can’t be done in any reasonable timescale, period.
When I find myself talking to people who sign on to cockanamie stuff like this, I know I am dealing with people who are treating politics less than seriously, perhaps like fishing, or watching sport. They have never thought any of this stuff through. Their views are formed from treating issues with a total lack of seriousness, and their conclusions are, as a result, mostly unserious.
This is what I meant when I wrote several times on this blog that politics is a serious subject for adults.