If We Aren’t the World’s Policeman, We Need Not Be Its Refuge

Syrian refugees and the so called Skittles meme have been in the news of late, owing to a renewed line of attack against Donald Trump by the Democrat media and a retweeting by his son, Donald Trump Jr. The meme is an asinine reduction, as most memes are, questioning if 3 or 10% or some other low number of the Skittles in a bowl were poisoned, would you take a handful. It has been used for refugees by the so called “Alt-Right” (more accurately labeled the White-Left, as they are an authoritarian big government faction), and for rape culture by the Feminist Left, proving that everyone in the political spectrum understands the meme’s central thesis.

[Surely, anyone who has posted the meme in either instance must cede to the other’s argument? Where are the Feminist’s demanding not to admit Syrian refugees on these grounds? Certainly, as we have seen in Germany and Sweden, these refugees bring their own rape culture with them- coming from societies where marital rape is legal, where refusing sex authorizes husbands to “lightly” beat their wives, where to convict a man of rape requires three or more male witnesses to the act itself, and where speaking out about rape without providing three male witnesses results in the rape victim being beaten or in some instances killed. How can Feminists, who clearly understand the meme, having originated it, not make common cause with the Alt-Right/White-Lefters?]

That ridiculousness aside, the fact remains- we have no moral imperative to serve as the refuge or the safe space for countries where we have determined not to serve as a police force for.

We’ve heard the refrain for seemingly decades, “The US is not the world’s police force!” Or it shouldn’t be. We’ve heard how all the wars the US has engaged in are merely ventures designed to profit oil companies, or the military industrial complex, or whichever conservative group is the current boogey man for leftist ire.

So, while in the process of withdrawal from Iraq, a country that had been stabilized and that somehow through a decade of US involved warfare had not elicited a refugee crisis, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton chose not to intervene in the Syrian Civil War as it was beginning.

Let us be very clear on this—had we intervened we could have enshrined whichever faction we desired into power in the matter of weeks. The Civil War itself could have been ended almost before it started. The US has the military capability to do so.

Now, I have always contended that a moral case for non-intervention can be made- could we have intervened early on and ended the Syrian Civil War before there was a refugee crisis? Unequivocally yes. Should we have done so? The answer is not so clear.

However, to build a case that is was not our responsibility to intervene we must argue that the humanitarian issues arising from the war are not our responsibility and that we have no moral obligation to the people of Syria.

If we have a moral obligation to the people of Syria, then how can we justify allowing 500,000 of them to die and several millions to be displaced when we could have ended the war almost before it began?

Surely we could have spent a few hundred American lives, killed a few thousand Syrian belligerents along with Assad, and stabilized the country. We chose not to. We must assume that the reason we chose not to intervene was built upon an intellectual foundation- that is that it was morally right to not intervene. If the choice against intervention was made on base self-serving political reasons then we should certainly demand the immediate resignation of President Obama and the immediate withdrawal from the Presidential race of his Secretary of State at the time Ms. Clinton- certainly the death of 500,000 and the displacement of several million whom we had a moral obligation to help for political gains is unconscionable?

But seeing as Ms. Clinton continues to run, and President Obama continues to serve we must assume that the choice of non-intervention in Syria was a morally defensible case.

What then, obligations do we have for those affected by the same Syrian Civil War now, after it has dragged on for half a decade?


If we had a moral obligation to save them, that obligation did not exist only upon their becoming refugees- it existed prior to that fact. The world should not count upon the US being a place of refuge when they fail to police the conflicts that emerge- they have asked for the US to not act unilaterally, to not intervene, we have acquiesced and in doing so washed our hands of the situation.

A police force has obligations to the citizens living under its protection. A US which is the policeman of the world has some obligations to the people living in the world. A US who “is not the world’s policeman” has no obligations.

Indeed, taking Syrian refugees sends a self-fulfilling prophecy to the world- it declares to them, to the UN, to the EU, to the Arab states, to OPEC that they need not bother controlling disputes, because the US will be here with open arms to clean up the mess after the fact.

Surely, if we are not the world’s policeman we need not be its maid?


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9 thoughts on “If We Aren’t the World’s Policeman, We Need Not Be Its Refuge

  1. Invisible Mikey September 21, 2016 at 12:21 am Reply

    Well, we aren’t acting in our traditional role as a safe haven in any case. The US is accepting a minuscule number of refugees, compared to other Muslim nations and Europe. We argue endlessly over whether 10k endangers us, when Germany has taken in 300k and Turkey nearly 3 million!

    • Nathanael C. Love September 21, 2016 at 2:20 am Reply

      And how has that turned out for Germany or Turkey? (Or Greece, or Jordan?)

      And what the rest of the world has or has not done does not have any particular relevance on whether we have a moral obligation or not, does it?

      • Invisible Mikey September 21, 2016 at 2:24 am

        It speaks to the hypocrisy. We complain about the danger, when we aren’t taking any significant risk compared to others.

      • Nathanael C. Love September 21, 2016 at 2:28 am

        Why do we need to take the risk?

        We know that something has had negative consequences elsewhere, why do we need to accept the risk?

      • Invisible Mikey September 21, 2016 at 2:34 am

        No one “needs” to take risks. It’s a choice to take risk when you believe the act is moral enough to outweigh the risk.

        We have taken in refugees from wars and catastrophes all over the world previously, but the support for it goes up and down as our political pendulum swings.

      • Nathanael C. Love September 21, 2016 at 2:36 am

        Certainly, as does our appetite to engage in wars.

        My whole point is that there would have been no refugee crises had we intervened in the war.

        If it was not our job to intervene, it is not our job to take refugees. If it is our job to take refugees, we were wrong not to intervene and are wrong not to intervene in a fashion that rapidly ends the conflict now.

      • Invisible Mikey September 21, 2016 at 2:46 am

        I don’t see the two actions as completely tied, but I can see you do. I don’t see military/strategic goals and the impulse toward charity as being fully linked, though there is certainly a factor of humanitarian concern in some military interventions.

        I also tend toward cynicism about the motives we are presented for sending military into foreign theaters. We aren’t always committing for the reasons the government says we are, and we don’t find out until after.

      • Nathanael C. Love September 21, 2016 at 2:50 am

        Much as our withdrawals are not always for the right reasons either.

  2. […] (This article was originally published on 9/20/2016 on https://wordpress.com/post/lovesthoughts.wordpress.com) […]

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