Migrants, Extremism, and US Policy

An interview with Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns

Migrants fleeing conflicts across the Middle East have washed up on European shores, but the global response–particularly after the terrorist incidents that took place in Paris two weeks ago–has left these refugees with few options. Stemming from a fear of terrorist infiltration, many countries are either in the process of or have enacted policies to block safe refuge to those fleeing groups like the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and the Assad regime in Syria. The United States is no exception.

In an interview with Atlantic Council editor Ashish Kumar Sen, board member and former senior US State Department official Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns decried intolerant statements made by some US Republican presidential candidates and the passage of legislation in the US House of Representatives that would essentially make it impossible for Syrians and Iraqis fleeing war and sectarianism from entering the United States:

What ISIS wants is to create a battle in the minds of Muslims in the world between Islam and the rest of the world, Islam and Christianity, Islam and the West. If Muslims in the United States are hearing from political candidates and Governors of our states that our doors are closed, that we are not accepting refugees, that we are not going to accept Muslim refugees, or that mosques need to be shut down in the United States — as Donald Trump has suggested, that is a message that is going to repel that community. What they need to hear is a message of acceptance, a message that they are just as American as anybody else, and that they are not only welcome in this country but that Muslim Americans are making a great contribution to this country. This is a defining issue for our future. 

Read the entire interview on the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog.