Trump and the Deepening Refugee Crisis

Preventing extremism and terrorism is a complex and multifaceted endeavor, but it can include working with governments to encourage them not to abuse and terrorize their own citizens, which can generate more extremism. On the other hand, providing good quality health services, education and security, and enabling meaningful participation in decisions that affect their lives, can enhance citizens’ enjoyment of their human rights and offset the allure of extremism. Demonizing these states, and thereby increasing their fragility, can only make things worse for everyone.

We all need to find common ground between the Trump administration’s foreign policy goals and existing efforts to address the problems of fragile states and the displacement that ensues. In addition, we need to find better ways, perhaps involving the private sector, or through civil society effort, to work with other countries and humanitarian organizations to promote leadership and provide financial support for humanitarian and development response. We cannot leave it up to the next administration to address the needs of the millions of people being driven from their homes by war, persecution and natural disasters.

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The foreign policy debate I’d like to see

Under the Obama Administration, we have seen the humanitarian imperative compromised by counter-terror laws and the politics of alliances. In Somalia and Syria, aid agencies were hampered by the PATRIOT Act from operating in areas in which they might be deemed to be providing assistance, material or symbolic, to groups labeled as terrorists. Preventable humanitarian disasters followed. In Yemen, the U.S. has been party to economic warfare conducted by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, causing famine conditions. In each of these cases, U.S. counter-humanitarianism cost lives, to no political benefit.

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The foreign policy debate I’d like to see

We need a foreign policy debate that builds on principled concern for civilian protection as articulated in the anti-atrocities policy agenda, which is married to a strategy for protection that expands across and shapes U.S. foreign policy, per se. The question that I would like to see debated, and which has implications for U.S. domestic policy as well is: What would a U.S. policy defined by the goal of de-legitimizing use of force against civilians and prioritizing peace-building look like?

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Introduction: the foreign policy debates we’d like to see

We are adding to this discussion by highlighting some key foreign policy debates that we would have liked to see discussed–and which we hope might still enter the public debate under a new administration. Our goal is to use this blog as a platform for a wide-ranging discussion of how U.S. foreign policy could be reshaped to contribute to peaceful international relations, while rising to today’s global challenges. We seek an exchange of ideas from those who are in favor of committed internationalism, but support a range of policies and approaches. Please feel free to join in the comments or via Facebook, and add the questions you wished had been seriously debated in the Presidential elections.

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Open letter to Gayle Smith

Under the Obama Administration, foreign policy has been driven by national security and concern over domestic opinion polls. Humanitarian issues, democratization, development, and resolving armed conflicts get on the agenda only when the Pentagon and CIA have had their say. That is glaringly obvious in Africa and the Middle East. You more than anyone should know that a security policy that relies overwhelmingly on military and intelligence instruments and has no wider economic and political strategy is doomed to fail, and to wreak havoc in doing so.

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