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About the Author
"John Massey has a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Alabama. His primary interest is in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but he also finds time to study French and political theory. "

Millennial Intel: LGBT Asylum Seekers From War-Torn Countries Sometimes Face Brutal Conditions

Whilst the plight of asylum seekers has been well documented in recent months, specific demographics within the overwhelming numbers of people escaping Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria face specific advantages and disadvantages from the general population of people fleeing violence and repression.

One such group is the LGBT community, who are primarily seeking refuge in Europe and North America.

A 2012 report by ORAM (the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration), says that protection for LGBT individuals seeking asylum is particularly poor in so called “transit” countries.

This protection appears to be greatly needed however.

“Despite many advances, the widespread violence and discrimination against LGBTI refugees often means that these individuals face severe obstacles to protection and long-term safety in countries of first asylum,” The report reads. “These individuals commonly undergo regular and often violent harassment from the local communities and refugee populations”.

The Washington Post recently reported on just such an instance that took place in Dresden, Germany.

When a young Syrian man revealed to another the meaning of his rainbow flag, he was subject to verbal and physical abuse from fellow asylum seekers. In an even more severe case, a transgender woman and her friends were raped and tortured by Jordanian police.

In response to the particularly vulnerable condition of LGBT asylum seekers, and calls from the UN, the Canadian government announced that it will consider gay men a priority for resettlement, due to the high likelihood of their safety being compromised by ISIS, the Assad regime, and fellow refugees.

This may result in single heterosexual men being much lower priority than other asylum seekers, as suggested by Amnesty International.

A similar move was made in the United States, when the State Department expanded its protections for LGBT couples by allowing already qualified refugees to bring their same sex partner, even if they are not legally married.

Despite these and other moves by governments and NGOs, the sheer volume of asylum seekers from the ongoing violence in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria all but guarantee that minority groups, including the LGBT community, will continue to bear a particularly heavy burden.

Cover Photo Credit: vl04 /Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Could The Suwalki Gap Be A Future Flashpoint Between Russia And NATO?

An approximately 60 mile stretch of land separates the Russian district of Kaliningrad, from the country of Belarus. It just so happens that this stretch of land is the border between Poland and Lithuania, and one of the most militarized regions in Europe.

As a result, this area has been called by some within the defense community “the New Fulda Gap“, referring to the presumed flashpoint of conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.

Kaliningrad is a small Russian enclave separated from the rest of the country, and nestled between the Baltic Sea, Poland, and Lithuania. It was awarded to Russia in the Potsdam Accords of 1945, and functions as the home base for the Baltic Fleet. As the Kremlin continues takes an adversarial view of NATO, a heavily armed garrison in the district would seem a rational act. This is precisely what they’ve done by positioning several brigades as well as a Motor Rifle Regiment in the territory.

This in itself is not an overtly aggressive move. The Russian Government has just as much a right to defend its territory as any other.

However, the Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas, said that the types of units being moved to Kaliningrad in large numbers are a threat to the Baltic States.

The Minister reports that “there are 30,000-35,000 troops, two mechanized brigades, armored vehicles in the hundreds rather than the dozens… Moreover, Kaliningrad hosts huge air defense forces. The older complexes get replaced by new and modern ones. Their range is rather extensive, over 400 kilometres.”

Olekas also claims that there is intelligence to suggest the deployment of SS-26 “Stone” ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad which are potentially capable of striking targets at 400 km, with a target accuracy of 5-7m.

An evolution of the infamous “Scud”, this system would be capable of destroying Command and Control Systems, landed aircraft, artillery, and civilian infrastructure. The Baltic States are understandably worried that their key advantages of superior organization and airpower could be knocked out.

Olekas is not the only one worried about Russian capabilities in the Baltic.

Lt. General Ben Hodges, who commands US Army Forces in Europe, recently said that the potential for conflict in the gap as something that keeps him up at night.

According to Hodges, the growing frequency of unannounced Russian military exercises in both Belarus and Kaliningrad can be viewed as a potential scenario to snatch the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, before their allies can muster a coherent response.

Lt. General John Nicholson, Commander of Allied Land Command concurs with Hodges’ fears but cites recent exercises, attended by Russian observers, as demonstrating NATO’s ability to “mobilize brigades and divisions within days”, further underlining the primary mission of the Alliance, deterrence.

Hodges went on to tell NBC News that there is no immediate reason for the Russians to seize the Baltic States, but notes that he was also taken aback by recent Russian adventures in Ukraine and Syria.

Retired General Bob Scales also has some fears related to NATO’s ability to respond to a crisis in the Baltic States. In a recent interview with Ryan Evans of War on the RocksScales said that he has fears that Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty (the provision which calls for mutual defense of members under attack) has a credibility problem.

The claim is that NATO members, in particular Germany, Britain, France, and the United States, would not come to the aid of an alliance member further East, and recent Pew polling among people in NATO countries lends some credence to this fear.

Scales went further to note that NATO has eroded its ability to project on land over the last fifteen years, and while “this is not the Cold War”, and “the Russian military is not what it used to be”, he is adamant that the mission of deterrence is not being adequately filled, and that Anti Ship Missiles in Kaliningrad being able to block off the entire Baltic sea from NATO’s superior naval forces negate that advantage.

Scales did not request a hike in defense spending from the United States, suggesting that a “modest repositioning of existing American forces” would be sufficient.

Such an adventure into the Baltics is likely not going to occur in the near future. RISE NEWS has previously reported on the problems the Russian military has had in recent years with its ability to project. However some unknown rift in the future could ignite this flashpoint.

The immediate objective and cause would not be known to us, but the Grand Strategy objective would be, according to Western understandings of Russian Grand Strategy and history, would be to secure space between Russia and the presumably hostile NATO forces.

This is due to Russia’s industrial and agricultural core being concentrated in the European section of the country.

This seeking of space is a result of several invasions of Russia by aggressive actors to both the East and West, including but not limited to: Germany, Sweden, France, Britain, and the Mongols over the course of history.

Space is therefore a geopolitical imperative when Russia feels threatened. As is the case with Russia’s current adventure in Ukraine, so too could be the case at the Suwalki Gap.

This line of thinking is why NATO expansion is a contentious issue. On the one hand, NATO expansion causes the Kremlin to fear NATO forces crashing through their borders, and annihilating the state.

On the other hand, Article V protection deincentivizes Russian adventures in neighboring states, due to the collective protection offered by the Alliance.

The validity of Russian fears of NATO, much like the validity of the fear of Russians seizing the Baltic States, is irrelevant. What is important is that these fears exist, and are real to those who have them and shape policy.

Working through these issues should then be the key objective of European policy, preferably without “little green men” in Estonia Latvia and Lithuania.
Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Millennial Intel: Why The Burundi Crisis Might Delegitimize The African Union

Burundi is a country in Sub-Saharan Africa that is both adjacent to, and smaller than Lake Victoria.

It might then come as a surprise that this tiny country could become a headache for the supranational African Union (AU). Following the announcement of incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s run for a third term, which is in violation of Article 96 of the Burundian Constitution, protests and violence broke out.

These responses included an attempted coup d’etat on May 13th. In addition to the spike in violence since President Nkurunziza’s third mandate went into effect, over 217,000 Burundians have fled the country. This has lead to a deteriorating human rights situation condemned by the Vatican, and was met with targeted sanctions from the United States.

The AU responded on Dec. 17th, noting that in Burundi there were instances of “arbitrary killings and targeted assassinations, arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of torture, suspension and arbitrary closure of some civil society organizations and media”, and concluded that the appropriate response was an initial deployment of six months (renewable) of 5,000 peacekeepers, though with the option to deploy more.

Predictably, the Government of Burundi was not thrilled by the prospect of its sovereignty being brought into question during a violent constitutional crisis.

The AU peacekeeping force has thus far not received the approval of the Burundian government, who called it an “invasion and occupation force”.

This presents several problems for the AU. The first is that the Crisis in Burundi may spiral into a greater regional issue, due to asylum seekers, and spread of violence.

Either the AU convinces the Burundian Government to accept Peacekeepers, deploys them of their own accord, or do nothing. As the first seems unlikely at the moment, the AU would have to choose between two options that delegitimize the AU to varying degrees.

The second problem is the fact that Burundi is the second largest contributor to ongoing AU peacekeeping missions. With over 5,000 troops in Somalia, Burundi’s continued cooperation in the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is put in jeopardy by both the violence on the home front, and conflict of interest with the AU.

Whatever the outcome, AU leaders will have critical decisions to make in the coming days that could decide just how important a role the IGO plays on the African Continent.

Cover Photo Credit: Dave Proffer/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Pragmatist’s Populist: Ted Cruz Visits Alabama

I was not totally unfamiliar with the fandom for Sen. Ted Cruz prior to attending his rally in Trussville, AL on Sunday.

I didn’t exactly understand why he had a seemingly strong following, but I knew who these people were- disaffected lower to middle class folk with a strong distrust of government. Of course in such a strong populist election cycle, I couldn’t understand why these people weren’t attracted to one of the other anti-establishment candidates when there were so many seemingly “better” alternatives.

Rand Paul’s brand of libertarianism is engineered to be more acceptable to the anti-neocon wing of the party, Ben Carson is about as outsider as you can be in national politics while still being a man of strong faith, and does anything else need to be said about the bombastic Donald Trump?

Each of these candidates seem to epitomize a more extreme version of what Cruz offers, so why does the comparatively moderate and “establishment” Cruz have 18% of the vote in a recent FOX News survey? These are the questions I had when pulled up to the Trussville Civic Center.

Trussville is a city of about 20,000 people in north central Alabama, just a short drive from Birmingham. The community is overwhelmingly white, and tends to be more affluent than the rest of the state. It was a short drive from my house to the community center, about 5 minutes, but parking took quite a bit longer. Cars encircled the white stone structure in anticipation of the first visit of a candidate for President of the United States, to the best of the City’s collective recollection.

As I arrived at the entrance about 5 minutes before the expected time of the start of the event, I was informed that a line had been stretching outside of the building before the doors opened.

I saw some family, friends, and neighbors, but there was also quite a bit in the entrance that was alien. I suspected that most of these people had driven quite a ways further than I had to see Cruz speak.

As I made my way past the booth selling copies of the Senator’s book, my suspicions were confirmed. I was asked to sign onto a slip of paper with places for three sets of names and information. The two previous spots had been filled. The apparent contact list asked for my name, address, phone number, County of residence, and whether or not I openly supported the Senator’s candidacy.

I glanced at the two entries above mine and saw that both were from neighboring Shelby County, which is a drive that can range from twenty minutes to one hour depending on where they were coming from.

Read More: Trump People-A Rise Reporter Spends The Day At An Alabama Donald Rally With His Liberal Girlfriend And Mexican Friend

After giving my name and phone number I made my way over to the auditorium. I was told that unless I had reserved seating that I would have to make my way to the overflow in the indoor basketball court. I made the turn down the hall, and walked to the far side of the room. When I turned around I noticed that the crowd had gotten much more bulky in one section that it had been when I passed. It took a moment to realize that the Senator and his entourage had come into the room on my heels.

Cruz was difficult to spot. He was heavily embedded into the crowd, honoring requests for selfies at least a couple of times. The crowd shook his hand, and offered him pats on the back as he made his way across the front of the mob gathered on the court. A woman yelled out “President Cruz” to get his attention towards the end of his gauntlet of handshakes.

When finally the crowd’s needs had been sated, the Senator offered brief but unintelligible remarks due to the poor quality of the microphone. With that he was gone off to the auditorium to go to the main event, whilst the projector was turned on for us late arrivals to view it simultaneously.

When I inquired further, he told me that Senator Cruz was honest and had principles. After being given a Chick Tract by his mother, I moved on.

Both Mo Brooks, the representative for the 5th Congressional District, and Mrs. Cruz spoke prior to the Senator. They were fairly well received, with Brooks offering the crowd an opportunity to boo both government spending and amnesty for illegal immigration, and Mrs. Cruz offering cute anecdotes of their relationship and the curiously well received line that Senator Cruz finally offers people an “articulate Republican candidate”.

This may be a subtle dig at President Bush, and by proxy his brother Jeb, or Trump but it could very well have been a throwaway line as well.

Despite the politely received opening acts, one could feel the anticipation for the main attraction. When the Senator went on stage with his family we could hear the applause from the auditorium.

The Senator preempted the meat of his remarks with a 10 minute long standup comedy routine. He primarily dug into the Democratic debates, offering condolences to those who watched them, and the well crafted line that the Democratic party is choosing between a “crazy haired socialist… and Bernie Sanders”.

He then offered familiar rhetoric, including detailing several policies that he plans to enact on his first day of office, including giving Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions a cabinet position, moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the particularly well received line that the “persecution of religious liberty ends today”.

Cruz continued with well received buzz words and phrases, drawing greater applause nearly every time, like:”flat tax”, “abolish the IRS”, “destroy ISIS”,” abolish Department of Education”, and “remove and replace Obamacare”. Closing with a prayer, the crowd shuffled out in short order.

I managed to catch up to a few of the people exiting the Civic Center. The first was a young man by the name of Josh. I asked him who he intended to support, and he indicated that Cruz was his man, followed by Paul, and Dr. Carson. When I inquired further, he told me that Senator Cruz was honest and had principles. After being given a Chick Tract by his mother, I moved on.

I met a jolly older man named Mack next. He was a loud spoken man wearing several pieces of Ted Cruz merchandise, and a small American flag in his pocket. He told me that he was a Cruz man because “He’s the only honest man!”.

Ted Cruz greets voters at the Trussville Civic Center on Sunday Dec. 20, 2015. Photo Credit: John Massey/ Rise News

Ted Cruz greets voters at the Trussville Civic Center on Sunday Dec. 20, 2015. Photo Credit: John Massey/ Rise News

When I asked if he had a second choice, he replied “NO! Why would I need a second? He’s the man!”

After shaking hands with Mack one last time, I spoke with a young lady named Marissa. When I asked her why she supported Cruz, she sheepishly told me that she was actually a supporter of Bernie Sander’s candidacy. After the initial shock wore off, I learned that she attended for the same reason I did, because it was so close to home.

She told me that she liked some of what the Senator said, but by no means clapped for all of it. Expressing disgust for Republicans in the state government and Secretary Clinton, she did express some appreciation for Carly Fiorina, calling her “highly intelligent”, and for Carson, though she remarked “I’d like Carson if he had more balls.”

After leaving the event, I feel I have a better understanding of Cruz’s supporters.

Cruz is very personable, and charismatic. He seems to strike a strong balance between the contradictory social conservative, civil libertarian, and neocon wings of the Republican Party.

Paired with a record of defying “the establishment”, but not so much that his name is mud by association, seems to have created a strong base of supporters among those disenfranchised by the previous unfettered free market capitalist bent of the GOP. (Just ask his “friends” in the Senate.)

The Cruz campaign is banking on a strong performance on the so-called “SEC Primary“, also known as March 1, the day when voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia go to the polls.

It seems highly probable that they can perform well in Jefferson County, and perhaps in the whole of Alabama.

Have a news tip? Send it to editor@risenews.net. Like to write? You can become a Rise News contributor.  

Cover Photo Credit:Jamelle Bouie/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer- A Country in Flames: Syrian Army Armed with Russian Thermobaric Weapons

Syria is on fire.

Confirmed sightings have been made in the country of both RPO-A “Bumblebees” and TOS-1 “Burratinos”.

Both of these platforms utilize thermobaric warheads, which disperse their fuel when approaching their target and ignite, creating large fireballs.

The Syrian Army has become infamous for its utilization of “barrel bombs” in the four year civil war. The inherent inaccuracy of the crude platform has lead to an abhorrent number of civilians being incinerated by the al-Assad Regime.

Despite Russian claims to the contrary, barrel bombings still occur, and with an alarming frequency. The Syrian Network for Human Rights claims that since the beginning of the Russian intervention into Syria, 120 people, including children, have been killed.

Thus the provision of the shoulder carried RPO to the Syrian army is alarming. The mission of the platform is primarily to destroy light skinned targets (i.e. infantry, cars) or clear out indoor spaces with either the six to seven meter fire ball, or the ensuing overpressure.

This will prove vital to Syrian Army forces in urban settings when fighting either FSA units or ISIS.

WATCH: Video showing force of American designed thermobaric warheads

Meanwhile, the Russians have been moving in both 2S19 Msta and TOS-1.

The former is a former of self propelled artillery with conventional 152 mm shells. The latter, is a T-72 chassis with an attached Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL), equipped to fire 24 220 mm thermobaric warheads at one time.

While the “Burratino” can be used against population centers, the more likely target will be forests, or other concealment in which FSA units are hiding. These artillery pieces have been deployed to the Latakia region, implying that the Russians intend to assist a Syrian Army operation in that part of the country.

Nonetheless, the platform presents another potential means of horrific death for the Syrian people, and makes the possibility of removing al-Assad more remote.

(The ongoing civil war in Syria is a nightmare for the people of Syria. UNICEF has a specially earmarked page for Syrian children and mothers, should you feel the urge to help.)

Have a news tip? Send it to editor@risenews.net. Like to write? You can become a Rise News contributor.  

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom House/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Brazil’s President Fights for Her Political Life

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been embroiled in scandal for several months, and the saga may come to a conclusion with her impeachment.

Large demonstrations have been ongoing in São Paulo calling for her impeachment, in order to compliment impeachment proceedings filed in Brazil’s Congress on December 2nd, though they are currently being blocked by the Supreme Court upon validation that the secret ballot to select the Congressional Committee was genuine.

These proceedings are the result of claims that President Rousseff violated budget laws to the benefit of her campaign for reelection in 2014. This is not the first suggestion that President Rousseff is corrupt.

Despite being cleared of wrongdoing in October, several members of her Worker’s Party have been implicated in the diversion of $2 billion over the course of a decade.

This has cast a shadow of doubt on her, and her party’s ability to govern.

Her position is made more so shaky due to the weak economic growth Brazil has been experiencing recently.

In the third quarter of 2015 Brazil’s economy shrank 1.7 percent. Current projections put Brazil on track to contract 3.6 percent by the end of 2015, and a further 2.3 percent in 2014. Foreign investments in Brazil have also plummeted.

Unemployment has also risen about 2 percent since this time last year.

All of these factors have contributed to a poor quality of life for the common Brazilian, which likely motivates the hostile reaction to President Rousseff’s continued tenure President of Brazil.

While it remains to be seen if the opposition will be able to muster enough votes to secure an impeachment, increased public pressure for the President’s impeachment only increase the likelihood of Rousseff ending her second term early.

Cover Photo Credit: Leonardo Veras/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Meet JEF, The UK’s Latest Measure to Shape International Security

On Nov 30th, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon committed the UK to a leading role in the freshly designed Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).

This force, composed of: the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Norway, will be a 10,000 strong unit designed to cooperate with NATO, EU, and UN operations.

JEF will be able to respond to a variety of missions including deterrence, interstate conflict, and humanitarian crises.

There has also been some speculation of Sweden participating in JEF, as the Swedish government continues its increasingly robust affiliation with the Atlantic Security system.

When looking at the list of countries taking part in this UK lead endeavor, one notices two things:

  1. All of the current contributors are NATO members, and potential contributor Sweden is greatly affiliated with NATO.
  2. This is a UK lead venture. While France and Britain have a similar integrated reaction force, the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), the most prominent member of NATO, the US is missing from these recent arrangements.

The establishment of these reaction forces, in addition to the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), potentially indicate a shift in European defense responsibilities in response to increased Russian adventurism, and the American “Pivot to Asia”.

Thus, Britain attempting to shift the weight onto its own shoulders is in keeping with historical precedents from 1950-1955.

In Anthony Eden’s account of the period in “Full Circle”, American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened an “agonizing reappraisal” of American security policy should West Germany not be integrated into the European security infrastructure.

This was followed by the personal commitment of Prime Minister Eden to finding a diplomatic solution, and the commitment of four British divisions under international direction.

The addition of the West Germans into the Atlantic Alliance, due to the hard work by Her Majesty’s Government, convinced the Eisenhower administration that Europe was worth investing resources to balance against the Soviets.

Likewise, in the establishment of these various European reaction forces, Britain is taking the lead in directing European Security policy.

Cover Photo Credit: Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: NATO Spits In Russia’s Eye By Inviting Montenegro To Join Alliance

On Wednesday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization formally invited the former Yugoslav nation of Montenegro to join the ranks of the 28 member alliance, despite Russian protests to the contrary.

Montenegro has been a partner of the alliance for a long time leading up to this offer of admittance into the alliance, starting with membership with the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program in 2006, and being awarded a Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2009.

As such, this offer was seen by most observes as not a matter of if but when.

As a former Yugoslav country, Montenegro has traditionally been within the Soviet and later Russian sphere of influence.

Despite the 1999 bombing campaign by NATO, which included targets in Montenegro, the small country on the Adriatic coast has consistently sought integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.

Russia’s general antipathy to expansion of NATO, in addition to a continued loss of influence likely motivate the resentment to this announcement.

Montenegro’s ascension into the alliance would further seal the Adriatic Sea from Russian warships, and further its ability to project into the Mediterranean Sea.

In keeping with NATO’s values, Secretary General Stoltenberg has reiterated that:  “on defense adaptation, on domestic reform, especially rule of law, and to continue to make progress in demonstrating public support for Montenegro’s NATO membership.

This mirrors earlier calls by the Secretary General in June to bolster public support for membership, before becoming a member of NATO.

According to the New York Timescurrent public support in Montenegro for alliance membership is at 47 percent and opposition at 39 percent, though there are also fears that the Kremlin could pump money into parties opposed to NATO membership as they have with France’s National Front.

Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Russia’s Options After Turkish Plane Downing

In light of the ongoing situation in north-western Syria, it is worth considering what options are available to the Kremlin in terms of their response to Turkey after the Turks downed a Russian SU-24.

First, let’s note what the Russians won’t do; they won’t directly respond in anyway. There probably won’t be direct military action against Turkey, because of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.

NATO’s Article reads in part:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all…”

While a clever reader may note that most of Turkey is in Asia Minor and not technically in Europe, and thus the Russians could potentially wage a war against Turkey as long as they steer clear of Istanbul, it seems unlikely that the Russians would risk this liberal interpretation of Article V.

Also it is worth noting that the downing of aircraft between NATO and the Soviet Union occurred multiple times in the 50s and 60s and it did not lead to direct war.

All right, so the Kremlin won’t be annexing Anatolia anytime soon, but what can they do?

As of now the Russian government has been shaping the narrative by claiming that this was a “stab in the back” and that Turkey is trying to “put the alliance [NATO] into the service of ISIS”.

Bellicose language like this will not get Mr. Putin far outside of Russia, but it will save some face domestically. While the claims being applied in this instance are utter nonsense when looking at a map like this one from the Institute for the Study of War and comparing it to the location of the shoot down, Mr. Putin could feasibly drum up xenophobia in the citizenry of NATO countries who frequently say to “kick Turkey out”. Especially as Turkey has faced changes in the domestic sphere as a conservative strongman– President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tightened his grip on power.

However, due to there being no mechanism in the North Atlantic Treaty for “kicking out” a member, and the strategic significance of the Bosporus Strait in containing the Russians, more than likely the response by Moscow will consist entirely of outrage and diplomatic wrist slaps.

Cover Photo Credit: Presidencia de la República Mexicana/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free And Taste American Bureaucracy

This piece is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Rise News. 

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with post 9/11 American politics that curmudgeons in positions of power, including the governor of my home state of Alabama, would not miss the opportunity to bolster their popularity with a display of security theater at the expense of people in need.

It is not any less shameful, but not surprising. The most recent instance is the insistence of several governors and presidential candidates that accepting asylum seekers is a threat to the citizenry of the United States, in response to the most recent tragedy in the city of Paris. This would be a more understandable position if the attackers were from Syria, but this is not the case.

As of right now, Ahmad al-Mohammed is the only attacker who is suspected of being from Syria, thanks to the convenient discovery of his falsified passport, but French authorities are still unable to confirm the details regarding this man’s identity, according to the BBC. The other attackers, and the mastermind of the attacks, were all French and Belgian citizens.

“In order to disrupt the archaic narrative of our ISIS and al-Qaeda foes, and save a fraction of the 11 million lives made hellish by the sadistic al-Assad regime, the United States should jump at the opportunity to subject 10,000 people to our robust and slow bureaucracy.”

So let’s assume for a minute that Ahmad al-Mohammed was a Syrian terrorist who got into Europe by exploiting the overwhelmed asylum processing system, which is entirely possible, but not confirmed. Why utilize the asylum seeking process when it is much easier to radicalize disenfranchised people in the target country, as we see with most attackers in this instance, or simply utilize a temporary visa, as was the case with the 9/11 hijackers?

Refugees in the United States, after being referred to the United States by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , asylum seekers are vetted with a Resettlement Support Center. After having biographic information taken, further screening can be done at the discretion of both the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) then conduct a one on one interview with applicants. After approval from USCIS applicants are screened for infectious disease and often matched with a resettlement agency to assist in the process of integrating. Overall this process on average takes between 18-24 months.

Bearing in mind the complexity, risk, and time associated with the asylum seeking process, it seems likely that the response we see in the West was the intention of ISIS. It feeds into the narrative of a “clash of civilizations” and disenfranchises desperate people who have been: gassed, bombed, drafted, beaten, and generally abused.

Some have suggested that refugees be accepted on the basis of their religious opinions, which seems to get closer to the real issue of a fear of Islam or people of color in general. However, this fear seems unfounded due to the lack of acts of terror committed by the over 120,000 refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, as of 2013.

In order to disrupt the archaic narrative of our ISIS and al-Qaeda foes, and save a fraction of the 11 million lives made hellish by the sadistic al-Assad regime, the United States should jump at the opportunity to subject 10,000 people to our robust and slow bureaucracy.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments below! You can also submit your own opinion pieces to editor@risnews.net and we may publish it. 

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom House/ Flickr (CC By 2.0) 

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