Our Sad Silence on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Americans like to wag their finger and admonish -- "take responsibility!" Actually, we should wag that finger in the mirror and then hang our heads about the human tsunami that is the Syrian refugee crisis.

There is little doubt that the U.S. is largely responsible for the harrowing machine that has been whirring for years now in Syria and Iraq, the harrowing machine that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.

You can debate the fine points of blame, but there can be no question that our 2003 Iraq War destabilized the mideast.

Last week, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized for the accepting the faulty intelligence that prompted Britain's participation in the "shock and awe" campaign. In the process, Blair ruefully acknowledged that our bombs and cruise missiles helped unlock the gates of hell in Syria. Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders has acknowledged the same.

It is a first principle of justice that when you commit a wrongdoing, you should express regret and do whatever you can to reverse the harm that you have caused. Maybe it is too much for them but Bush, Cheney and other the architects of our mini-Armageddon have expressed no remorse for our major part in this human catastrophe. Worse yet, we, as a nation, have done little to assuage the destruction that we set in motion. We should be doing more -- much more.

Though it is hard to get an accurate tab, so far we have allowed a piddling 700 Syrian refugees into the country. Germany, in contrast, has pledged to admit 35,000 refugees this year and as many as 800,000 overall. Right now, an American who wanted to sponsor a family from Syria, it would take at least two or three years to get them through the immigration process.

As HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) reported, "Secretary of State Kerry recently announced that the United States will take in 15,000 refugees above our normal refugee resettlement operations (85,000 in total in Fiscal Year 2016, 100,000 in 2017). HIAS rightfully concludes, "This is a symbolic gesture -- not a response to a crisis." After the Vietnam War, the US admitted 200,000 refugees. We must do something on that scale again.

So far, in both the Democratic and Republican presidential debates, nary a word has been uttered about our responsibility to make a robust response to the trail of death and tears in Europe. Except for a spate of articles in September, provoked by the photo the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, (a three year old Kurdish boy who drowned in the crossing fromTurkey to Greece) the media and opinion writers have been mostly mum about our responsibility. Americans act as though the flood of people desperately traipsing across Europe is our allies' problem and that whatever aid we offer should be registered as an act of kindness.

When, if ever, is the moral alarm going to ring? It is not a matter of kindness, but of justice. Instead of prattling about building walls and tightening our border, we need to figure out how to provide a home for the multitude driven from their homes by our egregiously mistaken foreign policy.

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