Tuesday, September 22, 2015

U.S. Needs To Take In At Least Two Million Refugees - And One Million from Syria!

Syrian boy cries amidst refugee crush to leave Tovarnik, Croatia

"Syrians meet any standard for recognition as refugees with a well-founded 'fear of persecution', under the terms of the UN convention on refugees of 1951. Helping Syrians is a clear moral duty." - The Economist, Sept. 12, p. 13.

The news on the front page of yesterday's Wall Street Journal ('U.S. To Raise Refugee Limit') was ludicrous to say the least. As reported, and as the European Union is flooded by up to one million Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi refugees now - the U.S. in its magnanimous heart - will raise its quota to 100,000 from 70,000 now. According to the piece:

"Mr. Kerry said that in fiscal year 2016 which starts in October, the U.S. would accept some 85,000 refugees including 10,000 Syrians the White House proposed earlier this month".

Whoopee Do! 10,000 Syrians when Germany is on a path to accept possibly 1 million with only one sixth the population of the U.S. and fewer resources., This is disgraceful!

Look, since the U.S. had a major hand in driving all these people (up to 4 million) out from their homes because of arming Syrian rebels to take down Bashar al Assad, it certainly has a bigger responsibility to take at least as many as the Europeans, (Islamophobes like Trump be damned)

Columnist Michael Ignatieff, writing in the International Ed. of the New York Times ('This Isn't a European Problem', Sept. 7, p. 10), put it thusly:

"The Syrian War has created about 4 million refugees. The United States has taken in about 1,500 of them. The United States and its allies are at war with the Islamic State in Syria - fine, everyone agrees they are a threat- but don't we have some responsibility toward the refugees fleeing the combat? If we've been arming Syrian rebels (against Assad), shouldn't we also be helping the people trying to get out of their way? If we've failed to broker peace in Syria, can't we help the people who can't wait for peace any longer?"

Indeed.  And he goes on to note the forces driving the refugees to flee the camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon - including their filth and squalor and lack of basic food - with funding having already been cut severely in some cases and repealed in others. (The World Food Program was recently forced to slash food allocations for refugees in Lebanon to $13. 50 per person per month. Try to process that!)

As he notes:

"Now the refugees have decided that if the international community won't help them - if neither the United States or Russia is going to force the war to an end - they won't wait any longer. They are coming our way. Blaming the Europeans is an alibi and the rest of our excuses, like they 'don't have the right papers' are sickening."

Again, right on. Conservative NY Times columnist Ross Douthat is also clear when he makes the ":plausible proposition" (op.cit., p. 11) that:

"the world's powers, the United States chief among them, had a responsibility to prevent the Syrian war from developing and to protects its victims once it did",


"And since our various Syrian forays: clandestine aid to rebels, airstrikes (then held back), explicit aid to rebels - look like failures at the moment, we're partially implicated in the continuing catastrophe".

That means, if one accepts the proposition of plausible culpability, the U.S. must accept at least as much responsibility as its NATO-EU allies to take refugees in. It means we can't just smugly look on at the European situation and make token gestures while we wash our hands under the worn out excuse "well, we can't do it or dem t'errorists will sneak in".  The Germans - also faced with that line of thought - knew they had a greater humanitarian duty and have accepted up to 800,000 refugees already.

The U.S., having fomented a Pax Americana war to not only overthrow Assad, but demolish ISIS, has a similar responsibility, You can't just help tear the shit out of a country - reduce it to rubble - then tell its fleeing victims to go suck salt. (The U.S. has, of this writing, donated $419m to help the refugees but this is a 'drop in the bucket' when well over $10b is needed given some 4 million are in camps.)

The need for the U.S. to offer more help becomes more evident when one realizes what's happening now in Europe is only the first phase of a massive migration-refugee wave likely to add millions more each year. Some articles in the same NY Times Int'l editions have forecast nearly all the 11 million displaced Syrians will be soon on the move, not to mention over 1m Afghans who see no future in their bombed out nation, and 2m Iraqis who are unable to have a life because of the ISIS vermin (who entered after we meddled in Iraq and removed the one secular force inhibiting Muslim factionalism)

Bottom line, the U.S. can't look on and pat itself on the back for taking in a mere 100,000 refugees and only 10,000 Syrians - when it had a major hand in stirring up the original Mideast shit storm by invading Iraq in 2003  Europe simply will not be able to absorb all the millions, and as one Syrian refugee put it (ibid.) "we are coming and nothing can stop us".

Thus, to fully acknowledge our role in creating the "catastrophe" as Douthat puts it, we are morally obliged to take in at least the same number of Syrians the Germans will, and 1m more Afghans and Iraqis.

We cannot, in good and decent conscience, look on as these millions (most of them middle class people who've had their homes, neighborhoods bombed out) either perish in frantic efforts to reach safety or return in defeat to their homelands to be slaughtered by the ISIS bugs. We did as much for the fleeing Cubans in the 1960s- 80s so we can do as much now for the fleeing Syrians and others!

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