Former CIA Director David Petraeus on Friday called out politicians who are spreading “anti-Muslim bigotry” in a Washington Post op-ed.
Petraeus wrote that he was concerned about “proposals from various quarters for blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion,” an implicit shot at presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE, who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country.
“Some justify these measures as necessary to keep us safe — dismissing any criticism as ‘political correctness,’ ” Petraeus wrote. “Others play down such divisive rhetoric as the excesses of political campaigns here and in Europe, which will fade away after the elections are over.
“I fear that neither is true; in fact, the ramifications of such rhetoric could be very harmful — and lasting.”
The former CIA director blasted such proposals as “toxic,” arguing that they play into the plans of terrorist groups trying to rally Muslims against the United States and other Western nations.
“Such statements directly undermine our ability to defeat Islamist extremists by alienating and undermining the allies whose help we most need to win this fight: namely, Muslims,” he continued, noting that Muslim allies were essential to war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I fear that those who demonize and denigrate Islam make it more likely that it will be our own men and women who ultimately have to shoulder more of this fight — at greater cost in dollars and lives.”
Though the column does not mention the real estate mogul by name, Petraeus appears to be taking aim at Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.
Petraeus also noted that it’s important for the U.S. to combat Islamic extremism and work to “prevent terrorists from infiltrating our borders and exploiting our immigration policies.”
“But it is precisely because the danger of Islamist extremism is so great that politicians here and abroad who toy with anti-Muslim bigotry must consider the effects of their rhetoric,” he wrote.
“Demonizing a religious faith and its adherents not only runs contrary to our most cherished and fundamental values as a country; it is also corrosive to our vital national security interests and, ultimately, to the United States’ success in this war.”