The West, Conflict And Refugees: Time For Some Diplomacy?


Recent Western interventions in the Middle East have instigated tensions and uproar in the region at an unprecedented rate. In particular, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan alongside the conflict in Syria have seen an initiation of high levels of refugees in the region.

These conflicts have led to the creation of millions of refugees, both internally and externally. Even in situations where refugees are not directly created by Western intervention, Western intervention and conflicts have seemed to exacerbate many of the issues associated with the Middle East and other conflicts ‘hot spots’ around the world. As a result, if the world (especially the West) is to understand how to resolve our global refugee crisis, for example, then we must understand that we tend to be the root cause of it.

For example, President Trump has not started any wars, just yet; but his administration has had a tendency to exacerbate the impacts of the wars of previous American presidents. This is often in the form of actions such as drone and missile strikes, instead of the traditional “boots on the ground” approach. Therefore, while our TV screens are not dominated by pictures of soldiers and machines conducting mass attacks on other countries, it does not mean that warfare is not happening. A classic example of this is the recent cruise missile strikes on Syria by the US, UK, and France. Of course, Assad’s chemical attack on the people of Syria is apprehensive, but more bombs and missile strikes from the West are not within the Syrian people’s best interests. It is as if the West has forgotten the ideas surrounding diplomacy.

If Trump were actually concerned about the Syrian people, he would be more open to accepting more Syrian refugees as opposed to the 11 he accepted this year so far.

Many of the issues instigating conflict and refugees in the Middle East are to do with the global arms trade, in which the US has dominated for about 25 years and has provided weapons to 85% of the world’s nations this century. This is despite claiming to be the police officers of the world and the apparent “good guys”.

As Emma Ashford from the Cato Institute stated, this idea of needing to “do something” in the case of international relations is too often narrowly perceived as military action, as opposed to Diplomacy.

Diplomacy is often perceived as a softer and less precise option, but, for that reason, it can often be a powerful alternative to war. This is as war is often brash and uncalculated, done in the name of revenge, anger, and greed instead of in the name of altruism. Personally, I feel as though the West too often frames their actions in the context of a war in a heroic and self-righteous manner, instead of under the idea of it still being conflict regardless of their intentions. No war, irrespective of what the victor may say, later on, is justified unless it is in the context of it alleviating more pain than causing. But even then, where to draw the line regarding this argument is rather blurry.

Therefore, diplomacy and other measures are a stronger alternative to military action when it comes to global peace resolutions. This is as it does not further exacerbate issues that are already pertinent as a result of a conflict, such as refugees, as this article has largely talked about.

Reference List:

How War and Weapons Trading Are Fueling the Global Refugee Crisis