A friend in Japan wants to launch a letter writing campaign to urge the Japanese government to let in more Syrian refugees.
I think that is a bad idea, and have told him so. The Syrian civil war will one day end, and those who are refugees now will want to return home. And they should return home. Their country will need them to rebuild. Syrian Christians, Yazidis, Jews, and Kurds have a case to be taken in as permanent refugees; but not other Syrians.
Granted that there is a refugee problem in Syria right now. But the best thing is to keep the refugees as close as possible to their homes. Moving them halfway around the world complicates things.
If foreign governments want to help, right now, they can help fund the refugee settlements in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. My friend says there are too many people there to be supportable. I say there is no such thing as “too many people.” There are a heck of a lot of people living in downtown Tokyo, and they make out okay.
But the best help would be to go in with guns blazing, as part of an international force, and end the war. Then everyone could return home.
Understandably, everyone is trigger shy. Everyone always thinks of the last war. After Rwanda, the international community decided the best thing was to move in militarily to end local bloodbaths. That worked in Bosnia and Kosovo. Then it did not work in Iraq and Afghanistan. So everyone became afraid of “regime change.” But then, just going in and taking out the dictator failed to work in Libya.
So now the international community does not dare to do anything. And we are back to the situation of Rwanda.
Worse, the vacuum has enticed smaller powers to get involved on their own behalf, none of them strong enough to end the conflict, but each able to make it worse: Russia, Turkey, Iran.
We need the UN to go in; or, if the UN is too divided to do it, we need a coalition of NATO, basically representing the world’s democracies, and the Arab League. Failing that, NATO alone.
Easy enough for them to end the war. But, my friend counters, what chaos may ensue? How to avoid another Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya?
The US’s error there, I believe, was naive belief in democracy. By its nature, democracy cannot be imposed. The objective should simply be to establish a stable government, able to reestablish order. And it might have fairly simply been done, in Iraq, by reestablishing the Iraqi monarchy. There was even an available candidate, the uncle of the present ruler of Jordan. He was in the royal line.
The same might be done, if a little less easily, for Syria. It has been done many times before, for many other countries: choose a member of a cadet branch of some other nation’s monarchy, and establish a new royal line.
Look around, at the rest of the Arab world. Who in MENA has good and stable government? The monarchies, all the monarchies, and only the monarchies: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait. Republics are always disasters. Even Afghanistan, otherwise seemingly ungovernable, ticked away reasonably well for many years so long as it had a monarchy.
For reasons of historical prejudice, the US cannot accept monarchy. But it is the best government available in many cases, when a full democracy is not available, is perfectly compatible with democracy, and is he best government to segue peacefully into a full democracy. Working democracy usually requires an independent, prosperous middle class, and that requires a certain level of economic development.
There are fairly simple reasons for monarchy being successful. Firstly, because the nation is seen as a family possession, corruption is less likely. Each ruler wants to preserve and even improve the state of the nation in order to pass it down to his children, whom he normally cares about. A republic has no such checks on kleptocracy. Secondly, a monarchy has a human face. People can identify with the royal family, and this inspires them to pull together. Especially in a nation that is ethnically diverse, there may be no ready alternative unifying principle. Thirdly, in terms of temperament, a monarchy throws up average people randomly as rulers. A republic in which leadership is up for grabs, without strong rules and traditions, will instead tend to throw up those with the greatest thirst for power, and those most ruthless in obtaining it. It is, therefore, far more likely to end in oppressive totalitarian dictatorship. Fourthly, when civil structures are weak, a monarchy has the advantage of making the succession clear. In a republic, if democracy is not well established and respected, any change of power devolves into civil war. As, indeed, we see in Syria now.