WBEZ | foreign affairs http://www.wbez.org/tags/foreign-affairs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Scant foreign support for U.S. strikes on Syria http://www.wbez.org/news/scant-foreign-support-us-strikes-syria-108575 <p><p>WASHINGTON &nbsp;&mdash; President Barack Obama is poised to become the first U.S. leader in three decades to attack a foreign nation without mustering broad international support or acting in direct defense of Americans.</p><p>Not since 1983, when President Ronald Reagan ordered an invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada, has the U.S. been so alone in pursing major lethal military action beyond a few attacks responding to strikes or threats against its citizens.</p><p>It&#39;s a policy turnabout for Obama, a Democrat who took office promising to limit U.S. military intervention and, as a candidate, said the president &quot;does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.&quot;</p><p>But over the last year Obama has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that his government&#39;s use of chemical weapons in its two-year civil war would be a &quot;red line&quot; that would provoke a strong U.S. response.</p><p>So far, only France has indicated it would join a U.S. strike on Syria.</p><p>Without widespread backing from allies, &quot;the nature of the threat to the American national security has to be very, very clear,&quot; said retired Army Brig. Gen. Charles Brower, an international studies professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s the urgency of that threat that would justify the exploitation of that power as commander in chief &mdash; you have to make a very, very strong case for the clear and gathering danger argument to be able to go so aggressively,&quot; Brower said Friday.</p><p>Obama is expected to launch what officials have described as a limited strike &mdash; probably with Tomahawk cruise missiles &mdash; against Assad&#39;s forces.</p><p>Two days after the suspected chemicals weapons attack in Damascus suburbs, Obama told CNN, &quot;If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it; do we have the coalition to make it work?&quot; He said: &quot;Those are considerations that we have to take into account.&quot;</p><p>Lawmakers briefed on the plans have indicated an attack is all but certain. And Obama advisers said the president was prepared to strike unilaterally, though France has said it is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria because the use of chemical weapons cannot go unpunished.</p><p>The U.S. does not have United Nations support to strike Syria, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged restraint. &quot;Diplomacy should be given a chance and peace given a chance,&quot; he said Thursday.</p><p>Expected support from Britain, a key ally, evaporated as Parliament rejected a vote Thursday endorsing military action in Syria. And diplomats with the 22-nation Arab League said the organization does not support military action without U.N. consent, an action that Russia would almost certainly block. The diplomats spoke anonymously because of rules preventing them from being identified.</p><p>&quot;Presidents always need to be prepared to go at it alone,&quot; said Rudy deLeon, who was a senior Defense Department official in the Clinton administration.</p><p>&quot;The uninhibited use of the chemical weapons is out there, and that&#39;s a real problem,&quot; said deLeon, now senior vice president of security and international policy at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress in Washington. &quot;It can&#39;t be ignored, and it certainly creates a dilemma. I think (Obama) had to make the red-line comment, and so Syria has acted in a very irresponsible way.&quot;</p><p>The nearly nine-year war in Iraq that began in 2003, which Obama termed &quot;dumb&quot; because it was based on false intelligence, has encouraged global skittishness about Western military intervention in the Mideast. &quot;There&#39;s no doubt that the intelligence on Iraq is still on everybody&#39;s mind,&quot; deLeon said.</p><p>Both Republican George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton had U.N. approval for nearly all of their attacks on Iraq years earlier. Even in the 2003 invasion, which was ordered by Republican George W. Bush, 48 nations supported the military campaign as a so-called coalition of the willing. Four nations &mdash; the U.S., Britain, Australia and Poland &mdash; participated in the invasion.</p><p>The U.S. has relied on NATO at least three times to give it broad foreign support for military missions: in bombarding Bosnia in 1994 and 1995, attacking Kosovo with airstrikes in 1999 and invading Afghanistan in 2001.</p><p>Only a few times has the U.S. acted unilaterally &mdash; and only then to respond to attacks or direct threats against Americans.</p><p>In 1986, Reagan joined ordered airstrikes on Libya to punish then-leader Moammar Gadhafi for the bombing of a Berlin dance club that killed two U.S soldiers and wounded 79 other Americans.</p><p>Three years later, George H.W. Bush invaded Panama after dictator Manuel Noriega declared war on the U.S. when his drug-trafficking regime was slapped with crippling American sanctions. The invasion began four days after a U.S. Marine was killed in a shooting in Panama City.</p><p>Clinton ordered a missile strike against Iraq in 1993 as payback for an assassination against the elder Bush. And in 1998, Clinton attacked al-Qaida bases in Sudan and Afghanistan to retaliate against U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200 people.</p><p>Obama approved the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, who had been considered a threat potentially going back to the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. troops living there. Additionally, the U.S. has launched hundreds of deadly drone strikes on suspected al-Qaida havens, mostly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen during the presidencies of Obama and George W. Bush.</p><p>All other major U.S. military attacks since the 1983 Grenada invasion have been sanctioned by the United Nations. That includes the 2011 missile strikes that Obama ordered against Libya as part of a coalition to protect that nation&#39;s citizens by enforcing a no-fly zone against Gadhafi forces.</p><p>Even the Grenada invasion had some international support. Six Caribbean island countries asked for U.S. intervention, which the Reagan administration said was legal under the charter of the Organization of American States. But the invasion was roundly criticized by Britain, Canada and the U.N.</p><p>Making the case Friday for the strikes, Secretary of State John Kerry noted that Turkey, France and Australia have condemned the suspected chemical attacks and said &quot;we are not alone in our will to do something about it and to act.&quot;</p><p>&quot;As previous storms in history have gathered, when unspeakable crimes were within our power to stop them, we have been warned against the temptations of looking the other way,&quot; Kerry said. &quot;History is full of leaders who have warned against inaction, indifference and especially against silence when it mattered most.&quot;</p><p>He added: &quot;It matters here if nothing is done. It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.&quot;</p><p>Some lawmakers in Obama&#39;s party hedged in supporting an attack with little foreign backup.</p><p>&quot;The impact of such a strike would be weakened if it does not have the participation and support of a large number of nations, including Arab nations,&quot; Senate Armed Services chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, said Friday.</p></p> Fri, 30 Aug 2013 16:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/scant-foreign-support-us-strikes-syria-108575 By the numbers: Refugees in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/numbers-refugees-illinois-105106 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6973_AP995610264386 (3)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A listener&rsquo;s question prompted our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-who-settles-refugees-chicagos-north-side-104781">recent examination of refugee resettlement patterns in Chicago</a>. That inquiry looked at how, and why, refugees have come to occupy apartments mostly in far North Side neighborhoods. It also got us wondering: Who were these refugees, anyhow?</p><p>Well, we can&rsquo;t answer that exact question because nobody keeps precise records of how many refugees live within Chicago&rsquo;s city limits. But we found that there are good data at the statewide level. Once we tumbled down that rabbit hole, we learned a lot &mdash;&nbsp;not just about Illinois&rsquo;s shifting refugee population, but also about recent world history and shifts in American foreign policy.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the data in chart form. It&rsquo;s a moving timeline that shows how many refugees arrived in Illinois each year since 1980. For each year, the refugees are sorted by country of origin:</p><p><strong>Refugee arrivals in Illinois by country of origin (FFY1980-FFY2012)</strong><br /><a href="#Notes"><em>Notes on the data</em></a></p><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> { "dataSourceUrl": "//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdGxjMGpvaVpOeVZScm9uajdTSHZVQ1E&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AD2839&gid=0&pub=1", "options": { "titleTextStyle": { "fontSize": 16 }, "showChartButtons": false, "showXMetricPicker": false, "showYMetricPicker": false, "showXScalePicker": false, "showYScalePicker": false, "showAdvancedPanel": false, "title": "Refugee arrivals in Illinois by Country of Origin (FFY1980-FFY2012)", "state": '{ "time": "1980", "yLambda": 0, "xZoomedIn": false, "nonSelectedAlpha": 0.4, "xZoomedDataMin": 0, "yZoomedIn": false, "orderedByY": false, "playDuration": 40000, "orderedByX": true, "sizeOption": "_UNISIZE", "xLambda": 1, "colorOption": "3", "duration": { "timeUnit": "Y", "multiplier": 1 }, "yZoomedDataMax": 5000, "dimensions": { "iconDimensions": [ "dim0" ] }, "iconType": "VBAR", "yAxisOption": "2", "uniColorForNonSelected": false, "yZoomedDataMin": 0, "xAxisOption": "2", "xZoomedDataMax": 86, "showTrails": false, "iconKeySettings": [] }' , "vAxes": [ { "useFormatFromData": true, "title": "Left vertical axis title", "minValue": null, "viewWindow": { "min": null, "max": null }, "maxValue": null }, { "useFormatFromData": true, "minValue": null, "viewWindow": { "min": null, "max": null }, "maxValue": null } ], "booleanRole": "certainty", "hAxis": { "useFormatFromData": true, "title": "Horizontal axis title", "minValue": null, "viewWindow": { "min": null, "max": null }, "maxValue": null }, "width": 620, "height": 343, "animation": { "duration": 0 } }, "view": { "columns": [ 0, 1, 2, { "label": "Region", "properties": { "role": "annotation" }, "sourceColumn": 3 } ] }, "chartType": "MotionChart", "chartName": "Chart 3" } </script></p><p><strong>Early resettlement history</strong></p><p>The data on the bar chart start at 1980, when Congress passed <a href="http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/the-refugee-act">The Refugee Act</a>, the legislation that formalized the US resettlement program. But that&rsquo;s not to say refugees did not arrive earlier. &ldquo;The refugee program came into public consciousness in a big way because of the drama of the fall of Saigon and the effort to rescue a lot of people who had helped us in Vietnam,&rdquo; said David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia. &ldquo;But it did build on much smaller programs that had been around before that.&rdquo;</p><p>In particular, the US had been admitting refugees from Eastern Europe after World War II. &ldquo;They came through Western Europe,&rdquo; explained Martin. &ldquo;They were processed by voluntary agencies in a cooperative relationship with the US government to do some screening and bring them to this country.&rdquo; Among them were Hungarians, Czechs, and Poles, and large numbers of Jews from Eastern European countries. American non-governmental organizations that claimed ties to those nations, or to the refugees&rsquo; religions, took the lead in bringing them to the US and resettling them. The federal government played a small role.</p><p>Martin said the fall of Saigon in 1975 challenged the US government to assume a larger role in the refugee resettlement process. The sheer number of refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia dwarfed the inflows from earlier years, demanding a more orderly intake system. And refugees from these nations could not tap into existing communities of co-religionists or compatriots, as could their Eastern European predecessors.</p><p>Today the US State Department works with the Executive Office to determine how many refugees will be allowed in each year, and from which regions of the world. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services manage the intake and placement processes. Non-governmental agencies, known as &ldquo;voluntary agencies,&rdquo; perform the on-the-ground work of finding apartments for new arrivals and providing them other assistance needed for a fresh start.</p><p><strong>The Cold War and refugee patterns</strong></p><p>As you scroll through the chart, you&rsquo;ll notice a few striking things in the years before 2000. First, the number of refugees that Illinois resettled in the early 1980s was markedly higher than any time since, yet the they arrived from very few countries. The primary primary points of origin at that time were Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the USSR and Cuba. See a pattern there?</p><p>&ldquo;One way of viewing the refugee program, particularly since 1955, is that the program was influenced by the Cold War,&rdquo; said Dr. Edwin Silverman, Chief of the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services. &ldquo;Refugee resettlement was mainly focused on those refugees fleeing communism or communist regimes.&rdquo;</p><p>Check out what happens in the chart in 1989, where you can watch the number of refugees from the former USSR suddenly jump &mdash; from 731 to nearly 3,000. The number remains high even after the 1991 dissolution of the USSR, and the trend doesn&rsquo;t stop until 1996, when the refugee count from the former USSR plummets abruptly to four. The change is largely an accounting artifact: There was a lag between when the USSR broke up, and when the refugee processing records reflected that. The lag appears to have ended in 1996, when the former USSR number drops, and a slew of new countries suddenly appear in the chart. Many of those are the post-Soviet states, registering their own numbers for the first time.</p><p>Another notable change happened in 1996, when Illinois started receiving refugees from many more African countries. The reason? The US had tapped out the pool of refugees coming from the Cold War countries. &ldquo;We had been processing those populations for 15-20 years,&rdquo; said Kelly Gauger, Deputy Director of the Refugee Admissions Office in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the U.S. State Department. Finally, there was room in the program for refugees from other nations. &ldquo;We started to work more closely with the UN High Commission for Refugees, and they started referring more African cases to us for our consideration,&rdquo; said Gauger.</p><p>Another significant development in the 1990s was the increased flow of refugees from the conflict that embroiled Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Between 1996 and 2001, this was the largest group to come to Illinois.</p><p><strong>The 9/11 lockout, then a new norm</strong></p><p>Perhaps you noticed the major dropoff in 2002 and 2003. Those are the only years since the Refugee Resettlement Act that Illinois admitted fewer than 1000 refugees. This is no anomaly, as the same dip occurred across the country.</p><p>&ldquo;There were significantly increased requirements for refugee security checks in the wake of September 11th,&rdquo; said Gauger. &ldquo;So those two years reflected the difficulty in pushing tens of thousands of new security checks through the system.&rdquo; The dropoff had significant financial impact on local resettlement agencies because they receive federal funding on a per-refugee basis. But those difficulties were somewhat resolved by 2004, Gauger said, when the refugee resettlement process worked through kinks in the new security procedures.</p><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AhjQLu6fCgMwdDVFamUxbUJGOWlQTURYeXJJU0I0dWc&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AAH2&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":null,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":"12"},"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Refugee arrivals to Illinois by Federal Fiscal Year (1980 - 2012)","animation":{"duration":500},"legend":"right","hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"isStacked":false,"tooltip":{},"width":620,"height":343},"state":{},"view":{},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p><p>More recently, Illinois has hovered around 2,000 refugees per year, a figure lower than those of the early &lsquo;80s, but it&rsquo;s still greater than the lull of 2003. This, too, mirrors a recovery and stabilization at the national level during this decade. But the picture of the refugee program is significantly different from its early years.</p><p>&ldquo;The program has just become less political and more humanitarian in nature over the last ten to fifteen years&rdquo; said Gauger, alluding to the time when refugee status was mainly designated for those fleeing communist regimes. Today, most refugees are referred by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, which deemed them to have a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country.</p><p>This has meant that in recent years, Illinois and other states have been resettling refugees from a greater diversity of countries. Many local resettlement agencies have struggled to develop the language competency required to assist such distinct groups. This year, the largest number of refugees to Illinois will be coming from Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan.</p><p><strong><a name="Notes"></a>Notes on our data</strong></p><p>The data come from the <a href="http://www.wrapsnet.org/">Refugee Processing Center</a>, a division of the U.S. State Department. Each year represented is the federal fiscal year, meaning October 1 through September 30. This is particularly notable when you consider the aforementioned dip in refugees in 2002; That federal fiscal year began just days after the September 11 attacks.</p><p>The refugee numbers from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in 1981 and 1982 are estimates. While the original data record total refugees to Illinois from East Asia in those years, they are not broken down by country. These estimates are based on the proportion that each of those countries represented in the total East Asian intake to the U.S. during those years.</p><p>Another interesting artifact of the data: You will find, among the listed countries, &ldquo;Amerasian.&rdquo; According to Martin, &ldquo;Amerasian&rdquo; was a designation mainly applied to children of mixed heritage after the Vietnam War. &ldquo;With a large presence of US troops there, there were a number of children who were born to basically the Vietnamese women, fathered by U.S. citizens,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;Because of their parentage, they were sufficiently different in appearance that they suffered a lot of discrimination, many of them did.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 14:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/numbers-refugees-illinois-105106 Worldview 12.16.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-121611 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-december/2011-12-15/stories1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It was a monumental year in news what with the Arab spring, death of Osama bin Laden, Wikileaks cables and withdrawal from Iraq. But according to <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/meet_the_staff#7%20" target="_blank">Joshua Keating</a>, the associate editor of <em>Foreign Policy</em>, a lot of big stories fell through the cracks. Joshua, Palestinian-American journalist <a href="http://electronicintifada.net/content/electronic-intifada-team/8#ali" target="_blank">Ali Abunimah</a> and <a href="http://aaichicago.org/en/about-us/staff-listing" target="_blank">Tuyet Le</a>, director of Chicago’s <a href="http://www.aaichicago.org/" target="_blank">Asian American Institute</a>, weigh in on the most overlooked stories of 2011. To join the discussion, call <strong>312.923.9239 </strong>or tweet; our handle is <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezworldview" target="_blank">@WBEZWorldview</a>.</p></p> Fri, 16 Dec 2011 23:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-121611 In a year of world-changing news, the stories that slipped through the cracks http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-16/year-world-changing-news-stories-slipped-through-cracks-94970 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-16/stories2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>By all measures, 2011 was a big year for international news. It may go down in the history books for being as transformative as 1989, when the Soviet Empire fell.</p><p>Mass protests transformed the Middle East. The sovereign debt crisis is torching the Eurozone. Let’s not forget Fukishima. Occupy. Osama. Just yesterday the Iraq War was declared officially over.</p><p>There were, however, other big stories that got lost in the shuffle. <em>Worldview </em>explores the under-reported stories of 2011 with <a href="http://%20http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/meet_the_staff#7" target="_blank"> Joshua Keating</a>, associate editor at <em>Foreign Policy</em>; <a href="http://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah" target="_blank">Ali Abunimah</a>, a Palestinian American journalist; and <a href="http://aaichicago.org/en/about-us/staff-listing" target="_blank">Tuyet Le</a>, director of Chicago's <a href="http://aaichicago.org/index.php" target="_blank">Asian American Institute</a>. Add your thoughts to the conversation by calling <strong>312.923.9239</strong> or sending us a tweet. Our handle is <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezworldview" target="_blank">@WBEZWorldview</a>.</p></p> Fri, 16 Dec 2011 16:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-16/year-world-changing-news-stories-slipped-through-cracks-94970