I’ve been a fairly keen student of warfare for some decades. It was a hobby in high school and eventually I became a practitioner of the art form and graduated from a couple of staff colleges where warfare, ancient and modern, was hammered into you. In the main, I fall in the school of though expressed by one of the British commanders in the Falklands War: there are no new lessons in war, just old lessons re-learned.
Now we’re confronted with a veritable drumbeat of stories declaring that what the west, in general, and the United States, in particular, is saying (yes, saying) about refugees is helping ISIS. Let’s do a quick tour.
I spoke with a number of our nation’s top academics who study the pathology and psychology of terrorism in general and ISIS in particular. Every single one agreed that the anti-Syrian refugee policies and rhetoric help ISIS.
ISIS wants Muslims to believe that they will never be accepted by Western societies. When we welcome Middle Eastern refugees, it undermines ISIS’ message that the West hates Islam. Consider that these are people who have risked their lives escaping violence in their homeland
In inflating the risk that radical Islamic extremists might try to infiltrate Europe and the US by posing as refugees — and ignoring the reality that Syrians are the most heavily vetted group of people currently allowed into the US — anti-refugee groups now share a common interest with the terrorist group they purport to reject.
Namely, stoking fear so that Muslim refugees are demonized and turned away — into the waiting arms of the so-called caliphate.
I can go on and on.
If this is true it would be one of the very few new lessons to be learned in warfare. It would mean that Allied propaganda campaigns against the Axis made them stronger. It would mean that Voice of America and Radio Free Europe played into the hands of the communism and possibly prolonged the Cold War. It would mean, perversely, that by trying to eliminate terrorists from the refugee flow that we are radicalizing the very communities that action will protect.
But is it true?
There is an easy thought experiment to run. In an environment of unconstrained Muslim
invasion of immigration to Europe was ISIS able to recruit in Europe? Before the Obama administration created ISIS, was al Qaeda able to recruit in Europe and the United States? Did European Muslims join the insurgency in Iraq? Did al Qaeda carry out attacks in Europe? Were young women, in the time frame before the Syrian “refugee crisis” leaving safe, middle class homes in Europe to rut with jihadis? I would submit that the answer to those questions is YES!
Having established that al Qaeda and ISIS were able to recruit easily in a welcoming Europe and unconcerned United States, one has to ask how keeping out the current refugee flow, which is about 65% military age male, going to make more Muslims in Europe and the United States become terrorists?
During the Cold War, avowed communists were barred from government employment and they could not hold a security clearance or a commission in the Armed Forces. Communists were not allowed to immigrate to the United States. Did that play into the hands of the Soviet Union? Did it make members of the Russian community in, say, Brighton Beach more likely to become Soviet agents. Or were the Russian, Vietnamese, Hmong, Polish, Korean, etc. communities in the United States pretty grateful that we kept communists out.
The answer is that unless you believe Muslims are a breed of people who have huge, unresolvable underlying anger issues and virtually zero impulse control you have to assume that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the West want nothing to do with terrorism and welcome the idea of living in communities where there is not a shadow regime of jihadis. If that is not the case, then there is no reason to allow a single Muslim in as a refugee.
We are already assured that the processing of refugees to the United States is so elaborate and fool-proof that NOT A SINGLE TERRORIST can get through. That is, except for the dozen names that [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001141′ ] released Wednesday of recent refugees who have been implicated in terrorist activities.
Of course, the underlying fallacy is that ISIS and its supporters are motivated by actions of the West. Not a single scholarly examination of radical Islamic terrorism, particularly of ISIS has shown this to be the case. The grievances against the West used by al Qaeda are historical and have nothing to do with assimilation of the Muslim diaspora in Europe, but their motivation is the establishment of a space where a pure Islam can be practiced.
This entire argument is dishonest. If accommodating Muslims in Europe had any impact whatsoever on ISIS, there wouldn’t be an ISIS. This is simply an ad hominem that seeks to equate caution about accepting tens of thousands of people from an area infested with terrorism with bigotry. It should be dismissed as such and anyone making the argument labels themselves as egregious douche.