Why we should pledge to take in more Syrians
Firstly, I think that the case for Britain having to take in more Syrian refugees than we have currently pledged to is overwhelming. The UK played no small part in fomenting the Syrian civil war. Britain, along with other Western powers, eagerly funded and trained the radical militant groups opposed to Assad with the hope that they would quickly topple his authoritarian regime, with the idea that then a pro-Western government could be installed to replace him. Unfortunately, like almost all of the West’s foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East, this plan failed spectacularly. Western powers vastly underestimated Assad’s military strength and the militant forces we armed and trained turned out to be quite the opposite of the ‘moderate rebels’ that the Western media glorified, as part of the generic war-propaganda campaign waged to dampen criticism of our involvement.
Although not arming and supporting the opposition to Assad would have likely led to a swift and brutal crushing of the popular dissent against him. This would have averted a catastrophic and bloody civil war, a war which has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, the destruction of Syria as a country and of course to the millions of refugees flooding into the surrounding region and into Europe. And so, given Britain’s significant role in this crisis, it and the other European nations which aided America in its failed regime-replacement attempt should bear the brunt of the refugee influx into Europe.
The inexplicable lack of a long-term strategic plan for Britain.
Currently there is a huge range in potential peak populations, it is vital the government takes greater control over this issue.
Thinking ahead, one question that desperately needs answering is: what population size can the United Kingdom feasibly sustain in the long run? Within just a few decades, energy supplies and raw resources will begin to diminish rapidly- and climate change will start to seriously threaten global food security. These factors need to be taken into account when thinking about if and how we can control the future population size of the country.
Societal planning currently doesn’t even extend into the immediate future; for example, the government has said it “wants” a million new houses built by 2020. However, it’s unclear where these would be built, how this would be funded or even if we have the infrastructure available to construct all these homes. This is not to mention the extra hospitals, schools and general infrastructure necessary for the new villages and towns.
Additionally, to what extent should we preserve Britain’s countryside? Everyone loves a bucolic ramble through the countryside, but is it ethically justifiable to have natural parks and lush forests when these could be filled with refugee camps or new towns, for example? I personally would argue that a country having beautiful national parks to explore and revere is invaluable- and so their protection should be guaranteed. However, I’m sure there are plenty of savvy philosophers who would argue otherwise; but unfortunately in the insanely short-term world of capitalist democracies, this discussion is not being had.
This currently non-existent debate about the maximum population that the country should aim for would have important consequences for how we approach the migrant crisis now. If, for example, it was decided that we are already nearing our ‘ideal’ peak population, this would result in us settling a relatively small number of refugees in the next few years- and then stopping this process altogether. On the flip side, perhaps with smart investments in our infrastructure we’d be able to comfortably and sustainably live in a country with vastly more people than we have today. Who knows, who cares? No one, apparently. Let’s just carry on doing what we’ve done for decades; stumble from one crisis to the next.