Why America Needs to Extend a Hand to Mideast Refugees

A longer commentary for Bloomberg Businessweek offering up more detail on embracing a refugee-based foreign policy: Why America Needs to Extend a Hand to Mideast Refugees

The world is a mess, isn’t it? Everywhere you look, it seems another crisis is brewing. Violence in the Middle East is rampant, most appallingly in Syria but also in Iraq as the militant Sunni group ISIS is bent on conquering the whole country. Boko Haram terrorist fighters horrified the world by kidnapping 272 girls in Nigeria two months ago: The group’s killing and abduction spree has continued unabated. Russia has annexed Crimea, and ethnic Russian separatists are violently maneuvering for greater autonomy in southeast Ukraine. Tensions between Japan and China in the East China Sea are mounting.

The bloodshed in the world’s hot spots, coupled with the nerve-racking prospect for regional territorial disputes spiraling into armed conflict, is deeply troubling. The public policy question is, how should the American government respond? American hawks are scathing in their criticisms of President Obama, castigating him for following a foreign policy of speaking loudly while refusing to carry a big stick. Yet for all their histrionics, the critics fall far short on solutions. Military intervention would not garner wide support. The White House positions itself as pursuing a rational yet precarious balancing act at a time when the public shows little appetite for international adventurism. But the administration’s reactions often come across as ad hoc and late.

Too much of the foreign policy debate is focused on prospects for and against military action. Not enough energy is spent on tapping into the enormous strengths of the American economy, a global powerhouse despite the disappointing performance of recent years. Case in point: Why not admit many more of the millions displaced from their homes by war and violence?

The article continues on businessweek.com.