How to Vet the Syrian Refugees

Domestic, International, Political Cartoons

Vetting Syrian Refugees

 Political leaders in the U.S., particularly on the far right, have used the attacks in Paris to galvanize support for their anti-immigrant platforms. Based on evidence that one of the attackers may have posed as a refugee to gain access to Europe, the House recently passed a bill to halt settling any refugees in the U.S. that originated from Syria or Iraq. Over two dozen governors have also, without any legal authority, refused refugees. This behavior, while not without precedent, is both baseless and repugnant to the fundamental character of this country.

There are over 4.3 million U.N-registered refugees who have fled Syria. Lebanon, which had a population of 4.5 million, absorbed 1.2 million Syrian refugees. Turkey, with a population of 75 million, is housing 2 million refugees.

And it’s not just countries in the Middle East accepting refugees from Syria. Germany (80 million) has accepted 38,500 Syrian refugees. France (population: 66 million) announced, days after the attack in Paris, that it would accept 30,000 refugees. Canada, (population: 35 million), has taken in 36,300 Syrian refugees since 2013.

The U.S., a country of 319 million people,  so far, has accepted 1,682 refugees – about half of which are children, according to the State Department. The process currently takes about 18-24 months, and includes interviews with officials from the Department of Homeland Security. Syrian refugees, in particular, have their documents placed under extra scrutiny. For all the panic, this doesn’t seem like a very convenient way for a would-be terrorist to gain access to the U.S.

In terms of moral responsibility, it should be noted that ISIS emerged largely as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and particularly the decision to disband the Iraqi army. Yet France and Germany, two countries which sternly opposed the Iraq war, and bearing much more of the burden of accepting families fleeing the region.

The Obama administration has pledged to take in 10,000 refugees from Syria. The U.S. can and should accept significantly more. There was also opposition to accepting refugees from Southeast Asia during the last decades of the 20th century – but the U.S. accepted more than a million without significant issue. Welcoming Syrian refugees is important for humanitarian reasons, and also for our character as a country. If some of the Republican candidates truly want to “make America great again,” they could start by returning America to a country that welcomes, rather than repels, immigrants and refugees yearning to breath free.

How to Achieve Peace in the Middle East (Some good news and some bad news)

International, Political Cartoons, Writing

Peace in the Middle East

Will the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal be good for the region?

Most events are at once good news and bad news. Every action that takes place in such a complex environment invariably causes a chain reaction of mostly unpredictable consequences. The only choice that leaders have is to set in motion a plan that seems like it has the best chance at not becoming a total catastrophe.

The Iran-U.S. nuclear deal, if it goes through, will have far-reaching and ambiguous effects on the region. A well-executed deal could suspend Iran’s nuclear weapons program, deescalate a decades-old cold war between U.S. and Iran, and provide relief to millions of Iranians struggling with a crippled economy. A deal could also allow the Iranian government to double down on its support for the Assad regime in Syria, which is currently dropping barrel-bombs on its citizens. The deal could strain ties between the U.S. and its longtime allies in the Persian Gulf like Saudi Arabia. A deal could have effects on the price of oil, as well as Russia’s economy and its government’s behavior.

While the sum of the effects will be incalculable, engaging with Iran does create more opportunities to effectively deal with the very pressing problems that exist in the region — not to mention the ones that will inevitably come up.  For now, it’s impossible to say if the framework for the U.S.-Iran deal is good news or bad news, but I’d risk that as a guess for moving forward, it’s as good as any.

Documents Show ISIS’s Pitch to Investors

Uncategorized

We’ve heard a lot about how ISIS uses social media to recruit new members and spread it’s message. And as MATTER pointed out– if ISIS was a start-up, they’d be working with some pretty impressive statistics. But we could never have guessed how much the start-up mindset is engrained in their culture. Recent documents acquired by the Gabbler show ISIS’s latest pitch to investors.

Read the full story at The Gabbler…

The Middle East’s Erasable Lines

International

Middle East Borders

Given the European interests they were based on, it’s amazing that the Middle East’s borders have survived this long. With the institutions of government in Iraq and Syria failing to maintain legitimacy with their people, the central authorities appear to become just another organized armed group in the region’s chaotic power struggle. While re-drawing the map isn’t currently being discussed,  the inability of the Iraqi and Syrian central governments to control their official territory demonstrates just how unsubstantiated these antiquated and foreign boundaries really are.