Donald Trump’s rhetorical escalation of the viciousness with which he will combat terrorism reached new and dizzying heights on Fox and Friends earlier today, as the candidate managed to say three times in one breath that America needs to “take out” the families of terrorists.
Americans have long been relatively tolerant of “collateral damage” in fighting wars, particularly against unconventional (not to mention barbaric) enemies like ISIS. But Trump’s suggestion flips that concept on its head by arguing that the deliberate killing of noncombatants should be an explicit and central tactic. Like Dr. Ben Carson ten days earlier, Trump argued that the U.S. is currently trying to fight a “politically correct” war in Syria and Iraq. But while Carson just thinks we should torture some people, Trump appears to believe that’s a wimpy substitute for a kill-’em-all approach.
If Trump’s “idea” sounds familiar, that’s probably because a policy of collective family responsibility for political “crimes” is one of the reasons the North Korean regime is an international pariah. And it’s entirely probable the inspiration for that practice was the great if distant grandfather of North Korean Communism, Joseph Stalin, who routinely killed family members of state and class enemies and sent many millions of others to the gulag.
One thing’s for sure: In the “war on terror,” Trump has finally gone where Chris Christie can’t follow.