Foreign Policy Adrift
President Pangloss and the Refugee Crisis

Here’s yet more evidence that President Obama is the best of all possible presidents with the best of all possible foreign policies: The U.N. stated on Friday that over 60 million people across the globe have been pushed out of their homes by wars. NYT:

At least five million people were forcibly displaced from their homes in the first half of the year, adding to the 59.5 million displaced people the United Nations refugee agency had recorded by the end of 2014. One in every 122 humans today is someone who has been forced to flee from home, the agency said.

Most of the people on the move in 2015 were displaced within their own country, but as many 839,000 people fled across international borders in the first half of the year, more than a third of them trying to escape the war in Syria.

There should be no mistake about this: If some kind of world order isn’t restored and, therefore, the refugee crisis isn’t brought to an end, pressure to prevent migration into the West will only grow. The West’s own geopolitical failures of nerve and execution, that is, are the cause of its deteriorating ability to live up to its values when it comes to the treatment of the victims of war. President Obama and the hand wringers generally think that the solution to the migrant crisis is to scold people for being unwilling to absorb ever growing numbers of refugees escaping from ever more disastrous failures of foreign policy. But this is a dead end. You can’t have an orderly world without a world order, and a world order can’t exist unless somebody is willing to do what it takes to defend it. President Obama’s Jeffersonian decision to let the Middle East burn without launching any American response is the direct cause of the flare-up in nativism, Islamophobia, and anti-refugee sentiment in both Europe and the United States.

That doesn’t mean the U.S. should be sending ground troops into every conflict zone on planet Earth. Our foreign needs to be politically and economically sustainable for the long term. We need allies, we need a prudent awareness about limits and costs, and we need a strategic approach to international politics that allows us to focus our resources and attention on the things that matter most.

But as one ex-Obama official after another has made clear, we haven’t been doing that over the last seven years—and one of the consequences is the weakening hold of exactly the values that President Obama cares most about over public opinion across the West.

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