Small Wars Journal

Syrian Refugees and Good Strategy

Syrian Refugees and Good Strategy

Gus Gusentine

Good Strategy has more than one facet. Clearing Raqqa militarily in response to the Paris attacks? You bet – as intelligence warrants and the Commander’s intent determines - but in addition, establishing effective screening processes for Syrian refugees entering the United States can be another important part of a deliberate, foresighted strategy to counter ISIS by managing the risk and reaping the benefits of resettlement and assimilation. 

At the micro level, the infusion of increased federal and state resettlement funding and support by charitable organizations can be a catalyst for stagnant local economies. Those who have demonstrated the courage, tenacity, and initiative to assume the risk and survive the refugee experience, if assimilated, can be just the sort of industrious if not skilled human capital needed in many local communities and in the broader US economy. 

At the macro-level, open commitment now by US governors to prudent plans for resettling and assimilating Syrian refugees in the US can provide a decisive counter to the ISIS strategy for separating Muslims from Western societies and a potent expression of our “not at war with Islam” commitment.  Acceptance and resettlement can also lead to more intelligence and more access to what’s really going on inside Syria and most importantly, begin the great undoing of violent Islamic extremism by giving the soul of America, early access to the next generation of the global Muslim community.

Immediately after 9-11 the American public cried out for opportunities to contribute in the war on terrorism.   People were ready to shoulder the risks and burdens of war at home alongside the efforts of our military and federal agencies operating abroad.   Done prudently, Syrian refugee resettlement and assimilation in the United States is that opportunity again today and a 21st century version of a Victory Garden for cultivating tolerant and inclusive global citizens for the future.