Monday, August 7, 2017

Why Do You Discriminate Against Boats?

For all of his adult life, Donald Trump has been telling people that he’s a brilliant businessman, a habit he continued, to great effect, on the campaign trail. So you’ll have to forgive Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull,who may have been laboring under a similar assumption when he got on the phone last January with the newly sworn-in president. One of the primary purposes of the call was to discuss a deal that had been struck by Barack Obama to take in 1,250 refugees who had been detained by Australia, which Turnbull was worried would not be honored in light of the travel ban Trump had ordered the day before. But as Turnbull quickly realized, as revealed Thursday by a leaked transcript of their conversation, Trump is completely incapable of grasping even basic facts about foreign policy—and is too ignorant to negotiate even the most basic deals. In fact, it seems highly possible Turnbull came away from the conversation not confident the president of the United States knows what Australia is.

The details of said deal were fairly straightforward: in order to deter human smuggling, as well as to prevent people from drowning at sea, Australia has a policy of not allowing refugees who arrive by boat to enter the country. That means you could be the second coming of Mother Teresa, Mr. Rogers, and Albert Einstein all rolled into one, but if you arrive by boat, you’re not coming into the country. Because Australia did not want to compromise this policy, when a significant number of refugees did arrive by boat, rather than deporting them, Turnbull’s government placed them in detention centers on the Pacific Islands of Nauru and Manus. Human-rights groups have condemned the conditions of these camps, the latter of which is set to close on October 31. Australia reached an agreement with the Obama administration for the U.S. to vet 1,250 of these refugees and then take as many of them as deemed acceptable to enter the country. If the U.S. decided none of them were safe, then it would be under no obligation to take any of them in. In exchange, Australia agreed to take in people the Obama administration wanted to get out of the United States. See? Simple. Really, it's not that difficult.

That is, unless you’re Donald Trump, president of the United States, who apparently can't follow a simple train of thought, based on the transcript of his mind-boggling conversation with Turnbull.

by Bess Levin, Vanity Fair |  Read more:
Image: Nathan Edwards/Newspix/Getty Images