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.

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 Harm of Limited Intervention in Syria

International, Writing

U.S. Intervention in Syria Cartoon

One of my first editorial cartoons was a single panel criticism of Russia’s blatant support for the Assad regime, which had already begun massacring the Syrian opposition. Two years later, I think it’s also appropriate to criticize U.S. policy, which is supporting moderate elements of the opposition in a hesitant and limited manner. The CIA-administered support, which includes non-military aid as well as small arms, and recently, a number of anti-tank weapons, has helped sustain the opposition against the Syrian army without tipping the balance in the opposers’ favor. If one believes in both the competency and cruelty of U.S. foreign policy, this strategy could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to subject each side to the slow, bloody death of a civil-war stalemate, with hopes of some negotiated settlement down the line. However, the U.S.’s limited intervention could simply be a clumsy and risk-averse policy meant to create the illusion of “helping,” while inadvertently prolonging the conflict and allowing more lives to be lost on both sides.

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.

Zugzwang in Syria

International

zugzwang

 

Zugzwang: A situation in which one’s obligation to make a move will inevitably a lead to a serious disadvantage and diminished position.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a more difficult time trying to find a defensible angle for a cartoon, and this one doesn’t provide much of a firm stance. I think when it comes down to it, no one can predict what is going to happen, or whether intervening or ignoring the red line and backing down will escalate the conflict further. I don’t believe comparisons to Iraq, Kosovo, or Libya provide any real insight, and a regime as unstable as Assad’s is capable of anything. That being said – with unpredictable outcomes being equal, I would reluctantly advocate for the “inaction” door on the right.