Look ‘upstream’to stem crisis

The following editorial appeared in The Dominion Post, Morgantown, on Sept. 18:

There is no stream of refugees flowing into Europe. It’s not even a river.

It’s a towering waterfall. When you look up, all you see is a continuous torrent of humanity pouring — into a cauldron of xenophobia, fear and stinginess.

Yet, at the base of that waterfall there are also countless decent people desperately working to rescue them, many who drown.

Tens of thousands of refugees need help in Europe, but the world’s rescuers need to run upstream.

Not to find out why so many are slipping into this surge. We know why. But to determine how we can prevent more from falling into this flood.

More than 4 million Syrians have fled a civil war that has claimed more than 300,000 lives since it began, in spring 2011.

Most of those 4 million Syrians are in desolate camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Thousands of others, along with thousands more Iraqis, Libyans and others, are risking their lives at sea, or crawling through razor-wire fences to get into Europe.

This crisis is sweeping away every effort to shore up an impossible situation while the worldwide apparatus for responding to it is floundering.

No one is suggesting not treating the symptoms of this human tragedy. But the world must also look to preventing its root causes.

Our nation has taken in about 1,500 Syrians as part of the 70,000 refugees it plans to accept in 2015 worldwide. The Obama administration has asked Congress to approve funding for another 10,000 Syrian refugees in next year’s budget.

This lukewarm response to the plight of highly vulnerable people — widows with children, for example — is hardly enough.

Some advocate military intervention into Syria and Iraq to restore peace. But that option would ultimately inflame the situation.

The position we took on the Iran nuclear deal was: A bad chance at peace is still better than a good chance at war.

How that agreement came to fruition is a blueprint for how to reach a political settlement in Syria.

A similar effort by world powers, including Russia and China, could lead to a new government in Damascus and help to isolate the Islamic State and other extremists.

This is no case of solving the world’s problems by everyone just stepping up and accepting more refugees. That’s only a drop in a bucket of a desperate need.

Diplomacy, backed by resolve and sustained engagement, has the potential to end this war.

The Middle East may never enjoy the stability of the Western world.

And ending the civil war in Syria won’t part any seas, but it would calm the waters.


(c)2015 The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.)

Visit The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.) at www.dominionpost.com

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