America is largely responsible for the current flood of war refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. We have dined and dashed, and left our friends in Europe to pick up the humanitarian bill. This is un-American and plain wrong.
Murky U.S. foreign policy leading to the Iraq War, which removed Saddam Hussein and was followed by a sudden and ill-thought-out withdrawal, has destabilized Iraq and the Middle East in ways only American combat veterans can understand, but in ways that most Americans need to understand.
It’s easy to shout at President Obama from the cheap seats, but you have to realize he inherited a house of cards when it came to an America at war on two fronts—Afghanistan and Iraq (with other micro-engagements globally: Somalia, Libya, and Yemen to name a few).
Many Americans would be surprised that Obama has actually been hawkish when it comes to executing the War on Terror globally. I remember talking to a member of JSOC who told me that Obama hit the kill button with frequency when it came to the decision of kill or capture via video teleconference with the White House.
Most fifth graders could easily draw conclusions and make strong arguments that the sudden U.S. withdrawal from Iraq left a power vacuum filled by an emboldened Iran and a new brand of terror named ISIS. This also helped set the stage for civil war in Syria after the Arab Spring.
Over a quarter of a million lives have been lost in Syrian conflict. When the death toll reaches these heights with no end in sight, smart people flee, and a humanitarian crisis ensues. These refugees are young families comprised of doctors, artists, engineers, Christians, Muslims and others religions of all kinds. These are regular people (not terrorists), and some are extremely talented with skills to contribute to any society in a meaningful way. But, extremists will leverage any free society and situation, so we have to make it hard for them to do this, we need a practical system, the same way we monitor who comes and goes in America.
In April, I spent over a week traveling in Europe, and spent a large amount of time in Berlin, Germany. The country has taken thousands of refugees, and it was clear to me from conversations with locals (some who volunteer), that the refugee issue is very polarizing in the EU. You are either for allowing refugees in or vehemently against it.
In my favorite cafe on Weinbergsweg Street in Berlin, I’d often overhear the conversations regarding refugees held by a mix of engineers, social workers, students, models, and tourists. I sipped my coffee and listened to a mix of languages as these Berliners drank fancy coffee and smoked their designer cigarettes outside in the spring air.
It was mid-trip when I finally arrived at the conclusion that America has an obligation as a world leader to take our fair share of refugees. It’s time to pay our portion of the bill, and we ate and drank the most. To not do so sets a poor example to the rest of the world, and will prove a historical tragedy if we don’t.
Before you light the torches and join the mob, hear me out.
A system does need to be in place to vet refugees. France is feeling this pain; they have the largest Muslim population (6.1 million according to most reports) in Europe, and a large community of extremists. The risk most of Europe faces, and it affects America, is that taking on refugees unchecked allows the opportunity for new identities to be formed, and a new EU passport to be issued to that false identity. An EU passport allows easy entry onto American soil. So in reality the EU problem is America’s problem as well, whether you want to admit it or not.
America needs to set up rules to take in refugees and this has to be done quickly and efficiently. It has to cut through bureaucratic red tape and the typical bullshit political rhetoric that plays to the angry conservative lynch mob.
It’s our moral responsibility as Americans. We are a country whose very foundation was built freedom, and immigrants of all types pursuing the American dream.
Some would be surprised to learn that Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs’, father was a Syrian immigrant. Let that marinate in your brain for a bit.
America cannot turn a blind eye and shirk its responsibility for the current state of the Middle East. We were largely responsible for creating the damn mess to begin with. To ignore it any longer will only worsen this moral and ethical crisis and ensure an ugly chapter in the future of American history.