Sunday, July 3, 2016

Syria, why shouldn't we accept President Obama's Plan

Syria, why shouldn't we accept President Obama's plan

By now, you have probably all become sickened with the amount of people who all of a sudden seem to care about Syria.  I, for one, am happy people finally care.  This is the hardest part of democracy, getting people to talk about issues, and I'm going to say this right up front.  I disagree with the president's refugee plan, but probably not for the same reasons as many have already expressed.

To understand my point of view, it's important to keep in mind that the Syrian conflict is like a living organism.  It is ongoing, and it has been ongoing for 4 and a half years! 

Let's start with the facts.  In these years nearly 250,000 people have died, another 12 million have been forced to move out of a population estimated to have been around 21 million.  The US has contributed nearly $500 million to train Syrian rebels. (few know we trained around 60 rebels meaning the US spent around $4 million each!)  There are nearly 7.6 million displaced Syrians and refugees living in makeshift camps outside the borders of Syria right now.  Out of these, 3.5 million are considered refugees. (I don't understand why people feel the need to make this point as the term refugee will really depend on who wins the conflict, and currently, they are all in need of food and shelter)  The EU and Germany had plans to take in over 800,000 Syrians by the end of the year, but they have yet to reach anywhere near that number as the numbers are still around 200,000 with one month to go.  Obama has been so kind as to offer to accept some 70,000 Syrians.  That being said, the West is working to accept right now around 4% of the Syrians, and best case scenario - a measly 8%.

Now let's return to the living organism.  The conflict doesn't seem to have an end in sight, which means we'll have more actual deaths in Syria, more refugees and displaced Syrians in need of help.  So far the cost of the conflict is estimated to be around $57 billion, with some of the bordering hosts to refugees reporting costs of around $25 billion. These numbers are staggering.  Other nations, like the UK have estimated costs per refugee of $40,000/refugee in the first year.  The US's plan is much more economical. Basically, it is the refugees are to repay their own plane ticket, they get a stipend of $1000 for the first three months, and then they are required to find jobs, without any other economic aid from the government.  Oh and did I mention that if you were a doctor in Syria, you have to gain a US certification to practice in the US?  And in order to do that, you'll need to either go back to school or compete with around 8,000 other qualified participants for around 100 openings for residencies.  So basically the Syrians can move to Idaho and work on potato farms.  Having worked those potato farms, I can tell you - it's no great humanitarian gesture.

So to return to my main point.  Obama's plan is to accept just 1% of those without food or homes in an attempt to appease the liberals. (yay, we took in refugees)  But not too many so as to appease the conservatives. (we can all see how well that is going in light of the recent terror attacks)  The root of the problem remains, and as I see it, in the worst case, the US is one step closer to full-scale intervention, and in the best case, we have given yet another bargaining chip to Putin.  The West's policy is poorly constructed, there's no other way to put it.  It solves nothing, and pisses a lot of people off.

My recommendations, our first step should have been to force the hand of the rich Gulf States that have accepted 0 refugees. (ahem Saudi Arabia and others, who all claim that together they have contributed a measly $650 million to aid the effort)    Oh but let's not forget that Russia, the ones launching missiles at Syria refuse to resettle Syrians as well (of course part of this comes from a fear of the many Russians who have gone to fight for ISIS)  Secondly, we need to decide to support someone, whether it's Bashar or the rebels.  They're both pretty bad, but I think we'd rather have a bad government right now than a continued civil war with a chance that ISIS could win. (I could be wrong)  And finally we need to find a way to get direct aid to Syria, USAID and many of the UN organizations only began entering Syria in 2014 through 4 access points because the foreign ministry of Syria requires that all aid be allocated by the ministry, so USAID has refused to work directly with the ministry.

These are some of the things that need to happen, rather than wasting energy, political leverage, and resources winning a congressional battle to accept pathetic 1% of those suffering.

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