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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What If There Had Been No War in Syria?

Today a federal judge in Hawaii put a hold on the Trump administration's latest "watered down" travel ban on the grounds that it was blatantly aimed at a specific religion group. President Trump has never really wavered on the idea that this is a Muslim ban, and that is how the court interpreted it. At the same time, the very existence of the travel ban--even if not implemented--may be enough to hold back immigrants and other travelers from heading to the U.S., as I noted a few days ago. A story in today's NYTimes offers up the idea that rising populism and anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe may be having the same effect there. A related article in the NYTimes reports that even Denmark, which has been generally welcoming of refugees, has added a new layer of restrictions on their entry.

I think it is reasonable to guess that none of these things would be happening were it not for the fact that the war in Syria is now heading into its seventh year. Here's a summary of the wreckage:
Syria’s civil war has raged on for six years. The UN children’s agency says a record number of children were killed in Syria last year. More than a third of them in or near a school. Fighting in Syria has claimed the lives of between 300,000 and 400,000 people. Before the war, Syria’s population was 22 million. Today, half of those people have fled their homes and more than 13 million people are in urgent need of assistance. Nearly five million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries. Turkey hosts more than 2.7 million.Hundreds of thousands of others are in Lebanon and Jordan. At least 800,000 have applied for asylum in Europe.
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has had the kind of durability only dreamed of by the other dictatorial victims of the Arab Spring. And there is no real end in sight, as nearly as I can tell. From the beginning, this seemed like a more complicated battle than in the other countries, as I noted four years ago, with no group really being able to claim the moral high ground. Now, to be sure, if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq in 2003 and then essentially abandoned it in 2011, the mess in the Middle East would be less messy, but we have to deal with what we have now. In my view, the anti-immigrant sentiments in the U.S. and Europe will die down pretty quickly if world leaders can bring an end to conflict in Syria. And, yes, I get it that this is vastly harder to do than say, but we can't let it out of our sight and be deflected by whether or not Trump Tower was wire-tapped during the election...

1 comment:

  1. Atheists don't have kids...

    and here