Regardless of whether you think the United States’ current strategy in fighting ISIS is a good thing, offering asylum to Syrian refugees fleeing the violence is undoubtedly not only the most humane thing to do, but the smartest — and for fairly obvious reasons.
But not so according to Presidential candidate Ben Carson, who offered this idiotic response to Obama’s pledge today to keep taking in Syrian refugees:
Today, I am asking Congress to stop the Obama Administration’s plans to bring in up to 45,000 Syrian refugees. There is currently no ability to vet these people. By letting refugees into our country without vetting we are putting America at risk. If our President cannot see the risk, then we must rise to the challenge and protect our country. This morning President Obama announced at his press conference that it was our responsibility to accept these refugees. He is wrong. He took an oath to protect and defend this country. There is simply not a way to vet these refugees.
We should do everything in our power to help these men, women, and children who have been forced to flee their country, but until we can sort out the bad guys, we must not be foolish. I call for increased aid to the refugees. We can and should do more to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. We must also protect them from being attacked by implementing immediately no fly zone over these camps.
President Obama said this morning that it would be a mistake to send more ground troops. I think plenty of mistakes have already been made. As President, I would give the mission to the Pentagon, and ask them what they need to accomplish the mission. The right number of boots on the ground is whatever number the Pentagon says they need to accomplish that mission and not a single person less. The error of armchair quarterbacking our military will end in my administration. They will get the support they need and nothing less. Both the FBI and former Intelligence Committee Chairman, Mike Rogers, have indicated that it is not possible to fully vet these refugees as there is no Syrian list to vet against. Allowing these refugees to enter our country without knowing who they are is foolish. I am talking to many experts as I can, and I have yet to find one who thinks that the Obama Syrian/ISIL strategy is anything but a failure. The only thing that President Obama seems to have contained is this foolish policy inside his government.
We need to offer more than empty tough talk. We need to say what we mean, and most importantly mean what we say. When we draw a line in the sand or boundary in the air, the world needs to understand that we mean it. Too many people across the world today think that we don’t.
Firstly, it may not have occurred to Carson that those fleeing Syria are trying to escape from the same lunatics responsible for attacking Paris — a fact so obvious one has to wonder whether Carson knows anything about the dynamics of the war raging in Syria and the Middle East. Refugees are not Islamic terrorists, they are regular people escaping a deadly bloodbath between a brutal dictatorship and an insane terrorist insurgency.
Secondly, by denying Syrians asylum in the United States, we are multiplying the chances that they do become terrorists if they have to go back to Syria. While the overwhelming majority of refugees detest ISIS, many of them would be forced to support them to gain protection from Assad.
Thirdly, Carson’s attack on Obama has got to rank up there as one of the most intellectually vacuous thing he has said in a long time (and there’s a lot to choose from). Carson is basically saying, “Obama’s strategy isn’t working and my strategy is infinitely better: I’ll ask someone else what to do and hope to fuck it works out.”
While Carson thinks “more boots on the ground” is a great idea, perhaps he should take some time to analyze the radically transforming nature of the conflict before settling on his master strategy. If he did, he’d understand that sending ground troops would almost certainly be a recipe for disaster given the complicated, competing interests in the region, and may well provide the perfect conditions to create an even greater conflict with no end in sight.
So there you have it — the leading Republican contender for the Presidency of the United States thinks he can solve the situation in Syria by creating more potential terrorists and leaving the hard thinking to other people.
Not exactly confidence inspiring.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.