Reality Check: U.S. Policies in Middle East Responsible For Refugee Crisis in Europe

The images are gut wrenching.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and across the Middle East fleeing to Europe, being held in camps. Refugees suffocating in vans and trucks overloaded with people. Or the sight of 12 different children whose bodies have washed up on the shores of places like Turkey—where a three-year-old boy’s body was found.

It’s a massive humanitarian crisis. So who is to blame for all of this chaos?

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This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.

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The images are making headlines all over the world. But pictures and video alone cannot do justice to the refugee crisis. Neither can these numbers.

19 million people have been forced to flee their home countries in the Middle East and Africa because of war, persecution and oppression. 42,500 more refugees join that group every day.

The biggest driver of the refugee crisis by far is Syria. Four million people—nearly one-fifth of Syria’s population—have fled the country since 2011.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said, “This crisis cannot be solved just by receiving them. It has to be deal with at source. At the moment there are millions of Syrians who are displaced. There are refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan and Turkey receiving four to five million Syrians and we are not going to receive four to five millions so the problem has to be dealt with at source.

So what is the source of this crisis? Something most media won’t say. It started with the war in Iraq.

The United States blew that country apart looking for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. And after more than 10 years of trying to unsuccessfully piece Iraq back together—after losing thousands of U.S. soldiers, more than $1 trillion and half a million Iraqis dead—we moved on.

But what started under President George W. Bush was continued under President Barack Obama, who went on to create regime change in Libya through the killing of Muammar Gaddafi. That move sent Libya into its current chaos, and made Libya the door to Europe for refugees.

And we backed the Saudis in their attempt to over throw Bashar Al Assad in Syria. While unsuccessful, we did manage to arm and train fighters with the Free Syrian Army who would later defect to Al Nusra Front and to ISIS.

As for ISIS themselves, when that group suddenly emerged in Iraq, where did they get the power and the ability to rise so fast?

ISIS seized thousands of Humvees, armored vehicles and weapons that the United States Military left in Iraq after the war. And yes, we left behind $6 billion worth.

What you need to know is that today we are reaping a decade and a half of foreign policy consequences. Tens of millions of people have died or been displaced because of U.S. policies in the Middle East.

Those people are not simply numbers. They are, in fact, people. Children, women and men—casualties of a so-called war on terror.

Yet over a decade and a half of war, drone strikes, thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars spent—and consider that today in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and much of Africa—terror groups are actually larger and more numerous than when the war on terror first began.


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