Interview: Donald Trump an embarassment to the reasonable American

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Donald Trump the Republican Presidential front-runner reacted immediately to the terrorist strikes in Brussels which has left nearly 30 dead.

He has once again said that America needs to be careful about who comes into the country. Trump does have a lot of statements up his sleeve.

brussels attack

However, there is a big question mark as to whether Candidate Trump and President Trump would be the same.

It is one thing to issue statements and a whole other ball game to put it in practise. Donald Trump is an embarrassment to the reasonable American, says Michael Kugelman, Senior Associate for South and Southeast Asia Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

In this interview with OneIndia, Kugelman discusses a host of issues ranging from the candidature of Donald Trump to the attacks at Brussels.

What is your assessment of the attack at Brussels?

I hate to say it but in some ways it's not a surprise. Such a critical mass of militants has holed up in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels that we can assume that despite all the successful operations against terrorists there, many remain on the loose and ready to strike.

I think there's a good chance that this attack was staged in retaliation for the arrest of a chief Paris attack organizer the other day.

However, then again, today's attacks seem to have been well-organized and coordinated, and those attacks take time to plan. So it could be that these attacks were in the works for many weeks.

Either way, the bottom line is that these attacks have once again demonstrated how Europe is a terrifying new battleground for international terror.

Sadly, these attacks will make life even more miserable for Muslim refugees in Europe, and they will give more ammunition to far-right, anti-Muslim politicians in Europe and the US.

Has Beglium been too soft in its policy towards terrorism. Could have they have done more to stop their men from joining the ISIS?

I think the problem is less an issue of being too soft, and more one of dysfunction. Belgium's security institutions have very quietly developed a very bad reputation--one that flows from the divisions and fractures in Belgian society between Dutch and French speakers, and which has led to fractures within security institutions.

There's not enough communication between these institutions, and there is no sense of overall coordination. That said, given how challenging it is to prevent people from joining ISIS--especially because there is no clear profile for the type of person who joins the group--even if Belgium had a perfectly functional security service, then you'd likely still have problems.

After the Paris attacks there were alerts in Belgium. Do you think the attacks were due to a lapse on part of the security?

It's too early to say. Brussels essentially went on extended lockdown in the days after the Paris attacks, so it could be that those drastic actions averted attacks back then.

Belgium has been putting some very strong security measures in place, so not sure it's fair to blame today's attacks on a security lapse--though there are reports on social media that Russian officials warned Belgium that Russian-speaking members of ISIS were planning attacks.

The bottom line though is that even when you impose the longest of lockdowns, you won't be able to deter determined terrorists. That's a sad reality of the current era.

Particularly in an open society like Belgium, terrorists will be able to exploit openings and vulnerabilities to allow themselves to do some major damage.

What is your assessment of Donald Trump? Does he understand the nuances of global terror?

Donald Trump is an embarrassment to any reasonable American. He caters to the lowest common denominator in the US--a far-right, racist, xenophobic constituency that is much larger than many of us Americans had thought--and profits from generous media attention to ensure himself maximum coverage and even greater influence.

Who knows where he really stands on the issues--he was a registered Democrat for many years before becoming a Republican--but what he is doing now is downright dangerous.

Even if he doesn't become president, the damage is already done because he has exacerbated prejudicial and racist sentiment in the United States. It is truly a sad state of affairs and it makes me, as an American, want to crawl into a hole and pretend it's all a bad dream.

If Trump is elected President, how will it help or affect the war on terror?

The kneejerk response is that President Trump would be a disaster for the war on terror because his anti-Muslim rhetoric would radicalize many and lead to more terror attacks.

In fact, there are reports that ISIS has already used his speeches in its recruitment pitches. The thing is, however, that we don't know if President Trump would be identical to Candidate Trump.

We really don't know what Trump would do. His views have never been particularly consistent, and he may well dial down some of the nasty rhetoric. He may well try to rebuild bridges around the world that he has already managed to burn.

But we simply don't know. And perhaps the uncertainty of it all makes the whole situation seem all that more scary and troubling.

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