Scott Sumner  

The retaliation begins

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One of my lifelong dreams has been to visit Isfahan, said to be one of the world's most beautiful cities. Now it looks like that will not be possible:

Iran said on Saturday it would stop U.S. citizens entering the country in retaliation to Washington's visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries announced by new U.S. President Donald Trump.

"While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"The restrictions against travel by Muslims to America... are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists," said the statement, carried by state media.

The U.S. ban will make it virtually impossible for relatives and friends of an estimated one million Iranian-Americans to visit the United States

Earlier on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said it was no time to build walls between nations and criticised steps towards cancelling world trade agreements, without naming Trump.

America just became a little bit less free. Unfortunately, I expect things to get much worse before they start improving.

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COMMENTS (19 to date)
AntiSchiff writes:

Dr. Sumner,

In more bad news, the trade war in Mexico began weeks ago. It is beginning bottom-up, with many companies and now states refusing to buy Ford vehicles, for example.

EB writes:

Scott, are you implying that he has gone beyond the extent permitted by law? I'd like to know your answer because of what David wrote in his post
and my comment to it.

Remember that if Trump did act within the law, then Americans were made a little less free the day that the law was enacted.

AlanG writes:

My neighbor is Iranian and now a US citizen. However, his mother and other members of the extended family still live there. He's pretty apoplectic about this order and pointed out to me that id doesn't cover Saudi Arabia, Qatar and a couple of other countries in the mid-east where a log of potential terrorists might live.

On topic - one of my favorite songs that I occaisionaly sing is Gabriel Faure's Les Roses d'Ispahan The gardens of Isfahan are supposedly spectacular.

bill writes:

This stuff makes me crazy. I think trade and visiting and cultural exchanges do much for peace and a better world.

I guess the silver lining is it helps me put Bernanke's recent post in perspective. Who cares if we normalize/reduce the balance sheet first or wait until we're content that interest rates are sufficiently high first when we've got problems of a different magnitude out there?

Mehdi writes:

Hopefully this will be a temporary one from both sides. Iranian students in US, most of them Ph.D. students are also seriously hit by this order. They cannot leave the country, even for conferences or visiting their families, and even their families cannot come visit them in US.

Here is a petition signed by Novel lauretes and professors, protesting the order:

P.S: Scott, hopefully after the ban is lifted you visit Iran, and also don't forget to visit Shiraz as well!

Scott Sumner writes:

Antischiff, Good example.

EB, I don't know if it's legal, but it's certainly unfortunate. There's a question as to whether it violates various anti-discrimination laws, or even the First Amendment (given that Christian refugees will be treated more favorably). Because it applies to non-citizens, it may not violate those laws--I'm no expert in this area.

I think you are also suggesting that some of the actions previously taken in the "War on Terror" are what allowed these actions. If so, I agree. The public was too willing to accept the loss of our rights that occurred with things like the Patriot Act.

Alan, Yes, all 19 terrorists on 9/11 came from countries not covered by this action. I think it's fair to say that it's far more likely the next terror attack in the US is led by a Saudi or Pakistani citizen than an Iranian citizen. A cynic might point to the fact that they are US allies, or that Trump has business interests in places like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. I don't know the motivation, but the choice of countries is certainly odd.

Bill, Agree on both points. We are just playing into the hands of the terrorists by making the West seem anti-Islam. Regarding your second point, I am doing less on monetary policy right now, partly because monetary policy is OK at the moment, and partly because these are some of the most important political developments in my entire life. I feel like I suddenly live in a completely different country. Intellectually, I know that's not really true, and that this too shall pass, but the news is very discouraging at the moment.

E. Harding writes:

"One of my lifelong dreams has been to visit Isfahan"

-And one of my lifelong dreams has been to visit Palmyra. The present administration is not responsible for its present state.

"and partly because these are some of the most important political developments in my entire life."

-Not the case. Some of the most important political developments in your entire life were 1989-1991, 2011-2014, and 2001-2003. This is just a restoration of government to rule by common sense.

"the choice of countries is certainly odd."

-No, it's not. It's Iran plus a bunch of lawless countries. It's probably not the best list, however. As you've said, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan should probably be included.

AlanG writes:

My former neighbor worked at the World Bank as a project officer for a lot of ears until he retired about 12 years ago. His last country of mission was Iran and since he traveled on a French passport he could work on projects in the country. He told me that the Iranian citizens were most interested in Western culture. Many had satellite dishes and could watch American television though they had to be very careful in doing so. Unfortunately, the religious revolution against the Shah in 1978 pretty much consigned them to a life of "piety" until the mullahs run out of gas which will happen at some point.

the Iranian movie industry continues to push the barriers and is an interesting thing in its own. As I noted in my earlier post, my current neighbor is Iranian-American and he pretty much confirms this as well. It's too bad that so much xenophobia is present in the world as there is a lot to learn culturally.

We'll see how things play out in the courts but the fact that there is a significant number of Americans who support the President's move I doubt it will end well.

patrick k writes:

Did any of you actually read the executive order? Scott, did you read it? I think not. You are all being played. Trump simply put a temporary 90 day ban on visas from Iran and six other nations while Homeland Security reviews its visa policies.

Secondly, it puts a 120 day delay on refugees while Homeland upgrades its vetting process.

No worries, don't let the facts get in the way. When you find yourself partying with the Mullahs you should figure you probably don't know the facts.

Chris L writes:

I just read this about this executive order:

I don't know who is right about what this order really does but given the current hysteria from the left right now I take their claims with big grains of salt.

TMC writes:

These were countries chosen by the Obama administration as posing extraordinary risks. It is not a ban on Muslims, as the most populous Muslim countries are not listed.

It is temporary until we figure out a good way to vet the travellers from them. Had Obama instituted this it would have been reported as a temporary and pragmatic action. Reporting of both Obama's and Trump's action would be very different if just the action, and not the perceived intentions behind the actions, were critiqued.

JK writes:

[Comment removed. Please consult our comment policies and check your email for explanation.--Econlib Ed.]

Foxhuntingman writes:

Pretty weak. Iran is preventing your visit to Isfahan, not the US govt. Anyway, I have been to Isfahan. Some interesting architecture, but you are not missing a whole lot.

Andrew_FL writes:

It's actually a foreign government preventing you from visiting a foreign country and not the US government, but you do you.

Jose writes:

One of my lifelong dreams WAS to visit the Bamiyan giant Buddhas ...

gda writes:

“Trade and visiting and cultural exchanges do much for peace and a better world.” 37 years and counting, yet these fine thoughts don’t seem to have moved Iran’s leaders much. Rather the opposite in fact.

As a Canadian, I never could understand the rationale of those tourists flocking to cheap vacations in Cuba. Did they make any difference to the government outlook or actions? I don’t think so. Were the people of Cuba better off? The dictatorship abides, and any economic benefit went to them, not the people.

Likewise I wonder about those who want to visit Iran, whose government is the chief supporter of terrorism worldwide. There are lots of beautiful cities in the world to visit whose governments are not run by an Islamist theocracy, after all.

Hazel Meade writes:

You are all being played. Trump simply put a temporary 90 day ban on visas from Iran and six other nations while Homeland Security reviews its visa policies.

Then why are people with valid, legally obtained visas being detained in airport terminals across the US?
The order applies to people with currently valid visas, not just new visas.

Hazel Meade writes:

It is temporary until we figure out a good way to vet the travellers from them.

Do you have any idea what it takes to get a refugee visa? We already have a vetting process. You can't get on a plane without a valid visa. How much international travel have you done? Can you identify specific weaknesses of the existing visa vetting processes that need to be addressed? If so, what are they?

Behrang writes:


Esfahan is nice, but there are nicer places you can go to without helping financially support a terrible regime.

Maybe my view of the city is tainted by my experience there as a child, when a group of gun-wielding revolutionary guards surrounded my mom and called her a whore for allowing a little bit of hair to show. Things may have changed since then, but there is no way I'm setting foot in that country again as long as the current regime is in place.

Also, way to make the executive order all about you ;)

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