“My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once too.” It was on Nov. 21, 2014, in a solemn speech at the White House, that Barack Obama urged his compatriots to accept the arrival of Mexican immigrants on U.S. soil. It is understandable that the proximity of this flow of immigration to the immediate borders of the U.S. has made this issue a priority for the U.S. president. But we cannot take this excuse of distance to exempt Obama from his responsibilities in the situation created by the flood of refugees who, since summer, have been surging into Europe from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In any case, in war situations, which are the origin of the immense migratory flows we are experiencing, the responsibility of the U.S is directly or indirectly (regarding Syria) implicated. On behalf of a country that is still supposed to play a leading role in the Western world, Europe cannot settle for the fine words that Obama addressed to Chancellor Angela Merkel on Aug. 26, when he told her that “ he appreciated her leadership on the migrant’s crisis.”
It is a bit short, just like the number of political refugees from Syria accepted by the U.S. in four years is ridiculously scant: 15,000. Just for the record, it will be noted that during the exodus of the boat people from Vietnam between 1978 and 1980, the U.S. took in more than half of the 2 million people who fled the consequences of a war that U.S. troops were involved in — like they were in Afghanistan and Iraq.
’The Globalization of Indifference’
This guilty passivity in the face of essential international solidarity has begun to affect some Americans. They are obviously less numerous among Democrats, whose hallmark has always been a certain noninterventionist selfishness, than among Republicans, who are already keeping an eye on the 2016 elections. Thus, John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has quite accurately criticized the attitude of Obama, who in all current conflicts “is a president who leads from behind” — in other words, without ever putting himself on the line, without sticking out his neck.
A subject that the migrant crisis will highlight even more than the origin of this migrant movement is obviously, and above all, the war against the Islamic State. One year after the launch of the first missions against the Islamic State group, a report of 6,500 airstrikes is meager news. In the U.S. (as in France), it’s time for questions. But, if we wait for François Hollande to finally expand the airstrikes against the Islamic State group to Syria, what can we expect from the U.S. president at the end of his term? In the absence of a ground attack against the jihadis, will he at least do his fair share of the work — which is a significant one — in the resolution of the crisis of all those unfortunates who, fleeing wars often at the risk of their lives and those of their families, rush to Europe. At least this way the USA, land of freedom and refuge, will not continue to participate in what Pope Francis calls “the globalization of indifference.”