Saturday, November 28, 2015

President Obama's Cynical Refugee Ploy

Good article well worth the read by Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest. I'm posting the entire story as they will lock out after the link is followed 3 times.

The debate we are having over the acceptance of Syrian refugees is not the conversation the country needs.

The governors of 26 U.S. states signaled yesterday that they will not be willing to take in any Syrian refugees, following the lead of Michigan and Alabama, which announced similar objections this past Sunday. Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire became the first Democrat to voice opposition to President Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 refugees from the war in Syria in the next year. Governors of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Connecticut, on the other hand, came out in explicit support of the initiative.

Goodhearted liberals have reacted with handwringing to the avalanche of dissenting governors. Some have earnestly quoted relevant Bible verses about taking in the poor and the afflicted, while the usual righteous tut-tutters have engaged in their usual righteous tut-tutting. “Everybody who disagrees with my proposal is a bitter-clinging xenophobe, not to mention a racist,” is the clear implication of the President’s supporters.

That there are racist xenophobes in this country is clear to anybody who has ever perused the comments section of an internet news site, or has spent too much time on Facebook and Twitter. And many of these people are spewing ugly hate about Syrian refugees in ways that appall—or should appall—anybody with an open mind and a humane spirit. That said, the refugee issue is not, despite President Obama’s rhetoric, a simple morality play featuring Wise Liberals and Racist Jacksonians. It is something more complicated and, at least as far as President Obama’s own role in the debate, a bit uglier.

To see the full cynicism of the Obama approach to the refugee issue, one has only to ask President Obama’s least favorite question: Why is there a Syrian refugee crisis in the first place?

Obama’s own policy decisions—allowing Assad to convert peaceful demonstrations into an increasingly ugly civil war, refusing to declare safe havens and no fly zones—were instrumental in creating the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn. For him to try and use a derisory and symbolic program to allow 10,000 refugees into the United States in order to posture as more caring than those evil Jacksonian rednecks out in the benighted sticks is one of the most cynical, cold-blooded, and nastily divisive moves an American President has made in a long time.

Moreover, many of those “benighted” people were willing to sign up for the U.S. military and go to fight ISIS in Syria to protect the refugees. Many Americans who now oppose the President’s ill-considered refugee program have long supported the use of American power to create “safe zones” in Syria so the refugees could be sheltered and fed in their own country. If President Obama seriously cared about the fate of Syria’s millions of displaced people, he would have started to organize those safe havens years ago. And if he understood the nature of America’s role in Europe, he would have known that working with the Europeans to prevent a mass refugee and humanitarian disaster was something that had to be done.

Not even President Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq has been as destructive for Europe or as damaging to the Transatlantic alliance as President Obama’s hard-hearted and short-sighted Syria policy. The flood of refugees is shaking the European Union to its core, and Obama’s policy has cemented perceptions among many around the world that the United States is no longer the kind of useful ally that it once was. France didn’t even bother to invoke NATO’s Article 5 after the Paris attacks; nobody really thinks of President Obama as the man you want at your side when the chips are down.

The collapse of President Obama’s Syria policy is hardly a partisan issue. He has repeatedly overruled his own national security officials, top diplomats, and advisors, many of whom have been horrified by the President’s passivity in the face of onrushing disaster. His abrupt policy switch on airstrikes left many senior Democrats who had supported his apparent determination to enforce his “red line” against Assad twisting in the wind.

To think that conspicuous moral posturing and holy posing over a symbolic refugee quota could turn President Obama from the goat to the hero of the Syrian crisis is absurd. Wringing your hands while Syria turns into a hell on earth, and then taking a token number of refugees, can be called many things, but decent and wise are not among them. You don’t have to be a xenophobe or a racist or even a Republican to reject this President’s leadership on Syria policy. All you need for that is common sense and a moral compass.

And it’s worse. The Obama Administration’s extreme caution about engagement in Syria led it to insist on such a thorough process of vetting potential Syrian allies that years of effort and tens of millions of dollars resulted in only a paltry handful of people being found acceptable to receive American weapons and training. The refugee vetting process won’t be nearly this thorough; it’s almost certain that the President’s program will result in settling people in the United States who could not be certified to fight for the United States in Syria. Given our gun laws, uncertified Syrians living in the United States will soon have the opportunity to get weapons that the United States government would refuse to give them in Syria. To millions of Americans, this is a double standard they can neither understand nor accept. To call people troubled by these concerns racists and xenophobes is to divide and polarize this country in ways that will cost us all dearly down the road. We have enough hate, enough radicalism, enough mutual misunderstanding and distrust between left and right in America as it is. The President is adding to that distrust, and doing it in a particularly ugly and damaging way.

If President Obama really had the superior moral insight and wisdom that he believes makes him so much more humane and far-seeing than the ignorant rednecks who keep on opposing him, he would have approached the refugee issue with less arrogance and more self-awareness. It is not given to the sons (or even to the daughters) of mortals to be right about everything all the time; Presidents make mistakes, even in the Middle East. A little humility, a little acknowledgement of responsibility, a little self-reflection could go a long way.

For no one, other than the Butcher Assad and the unspeakable al-Baghdadi, is as responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as is President Obama. No one has committed more sins of omission, no one has so ruthlessly sacrificed the well-being of Syria’s people for his own ends, as the man in the White House. In all the world, only President Obama had the ability to do anything significant to prevent this catastrophe; in all the world no one turned his back so coldly and resolutely on the suffering Syrians as the man who sits in the White House today—a man who is now lecturing his fellow citizens on what he insists is their moral inferiority before his own high self-esteem.

From the standpoint of American interests and of the well being of the Syrians, the primary responsibility that the United States has toward the people of Syria is not to offer asylum to something like 0.25 percent of its refugee population. The primary duty of this country was to prevent such a disaster from happening and, failing that, to support in-country safe havens and relief operations. No doubt President Obama and the unthinking press zealots who applaud his every move prefer a conversation about why ordinary Americans are racist xenophobes to one about why President Obama’s Syria policy has created an immense and still expanding disaster.

The “why are Jacksonians such xenophobes?” conversation, given the way so much of the country’s media works, is the conversation we are having. It is not the conversation the country, or even the President, needs. The Syria war has not finished creating refugees, undermining regional and even global security, putting WMD in terrorist hands, or spreading the poisons of radicalism and sectarian war across the Middle East and among vulnerable Muslims in Europe and beyond. Things can and will get worse as long as American policy continues to flounder; instead of arguing about how to shelter a few thousand refugees we need to look hard at how we are failing to address the disaster that has created millions, and that continues to grow.


  1. I will never believe that 0bama had any intention of finding reliable people to arm for the fight in Syria, but only to find those that he could be assured would turn over any given arms to isis or other of the more radical groups.

    That certainly does not make him less responsible for the disaster, but does make him more evil, because his motives were never about finishing off Assad, but for making everyone else's, including Americans, lives, more perilous and prone to bloody, painful ends.

    I say "including Americans" because I firmly believe that he increased the brutality of the conflict there for the main purpose of being able to bring thousands of un-vetted (and un-vettable, given the complete lack of identity assurance) muslims into the US.

    Even those who are not jihadist in refugee clothing, are still muslims, with a mindset of their own superiority over the law of the land and the rights of any others they interact with, especially non-muslim women and girls.

  2. I think we, and particularly Obama and his crew, know too little about Syrians and the troubles in their country of origin. Living among Arab Muslims as I do I've not heard many say they like the idea of Syrian immigration. Fact is I cannot think of one yet. That may be tribal. Whatever it is the mess in Syria is huge, with several factions resisting Assad, and others outright global terrorists (ISIS), and I know no one who can sort them out. The only element fighting the various crazies are the Kurds, and that makes Turkey nervous. Many of the migrants outright say they want to go back. Okay, when might that be? When will or can they pick a leader, who they'd fight for and with, from among the myriad fighting groups who all seem to hate each other?

    If there was ever a place the USA should stay away from completely, it is Syria and by derivation, it's questionable "refugees". We've not done so well in Libya, Iraq, Yemen, etc...and Syria has less chance than all of the others. There sheer number of military age very healthy males in the thousands of refugees is a clue perhaps...maybe they'd like to take over your country, while you house and feed them, and wreck it as they have their own?

    Yeah, I am a cynic.

  3. The entire "refuge" thing is a fraud. Where are the women and children? To compare this to the plight of European Jews before World War II is dishonest. If it were accurate, those photos from the 1930's would show ships filled with Arian young men.

    While I cannot be sure whether this entire thing is a result of Obama's nefarious aims or his incompetence, I tend to lean towards the former. While, Obama may be incompetent, he is the tool of those whose certainly are not. Of course, Obama is untouchable. No matter what he does, he cannot be criticized. To criticize the Anointed One is racist.

  4. The entire "refuge" thing is a fraud. Where are the women and children? To compare this to the plight of European Jews before World War II is dishonest. If it were accurate, those photos from the 1930's would show ships filled with Arian young men.

    While I cannot be sure whether this entire thing is a result of Obama's nefarious aims or his incompetence, I tend to lean towards the former. While, Obama may be incompetent, he is the tool of those whose certainly are not. Of course, Obama is untouchable. No matter what he does, he cannot be criticized. To criticize the Anointed One is racist.

  5. RadioMattM ... actually Obama is just hitching a ride, so to speak. The mess began with Europeans being wusses and letting columns of 100's of thousands march north unfettered. They wussed out by not adhering to their asylum rules of refugee status being accorded in the first EU country entered...not at the end of some long mass march through several nations. Obama cannot stand being out wussed. So here we are.... :-) We've no business "importing" Syrians as "refugees". How many do folks think are going to swim here? Factitious and cynical, yes, but how many can we verify as persecuted .... ??

  6. I am starting to not like myself due to my recent cynicism...guess I've had enough of porous borders and people we have no clue about. I knew more about the Vietnamese and Koreans I knew than I ever could about the vague identity newcomers. They were very different people than these new dudes.

    1. Ari (and all), check this out: The slow death of hope for America’s loyal friends in Iraq.

      This is proof of WRM's assertion: Obama's proposal to resettle Syrian refugees is nothing but a political ploy. There are many Iraqis and Afghans who risked their lives for us, for years. They're vetted. They can't get in. Because letting them in doesn't result in any political benefit for Obama.

      But random Syrians? Score. The purpose is not so much to establish a "fifth column", but to further divide the country.

      Because further dividing the country, when you campaign on a platform that the other half of the country are evil redneck monsters, is an end itself.

  7. This is a good read; thanks for posting it florrie.

    I agree with the things you all are saying. I'm extremely uncomfortable with the way Obama has handled (or not handled) the Syria mess. Incompetence or evil? Either way it's a disaster of epic proportions.

    I've always been a pro-immigration gal, and have even butted heads with several of you through the years on this issue. BUT, the immigrants I grew up with were hard-working religious people, eager to acculturate to our American sensibilities, and wanting more than anything in the world to be American and pursue the American dream. Those are the people I was championing. I freely admit that I did not see what was coming. Some of you did.

    These new immigrants, both hispanic and muslim, hate us. They have no intention of acculturating; instead they seek to dominate and destroy our way of life. The same with our native blacks. I don't know these heathens. I don't recognize them as anything other than "enemy" and "uncivilized".

    Like Aridog said. I'm starting to not like myself due to my recent cynicism (and uncharitable thoughts).

  8. Amen, lady red, amen to all your excellent points. I feel exactly the same. I'm glad I'm not just starting out in the world.