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Position Discussion - Syria, Chechnya, and Immigration

I enjoy engaging with people any way I can. Lately, I've been having conversations with folks at the McSally Take a Stand page on Facebook. (They're another important group, by the way. I can only hope that eventually every Congressperson will have a group dedicated to making them take a stand.)

Sometimes these Facebook conversations result in very long posts from me. It's worthwhile, of course, since these people are asking me real questions, and I feel compelled to give them real answers.

However, sometimes these discussions happen in odd places: reply chains in unrelated topics, for instance. So, when I think a conversation will benefit from it, I'll try to move the discussion here.

That said, I received this question from Facebook user Golda Velez:

"My question is more what positions you've taken and defended. Do you have current policy statements on Syria, on Chechnya, on the Ukraine, on immigration? I want to know where you stand and if you have courage to take stands even if they do not make everyone happy. Thanks for running, now show us you have thought about these issues and speak out about them please."

My response:

Whew, you ask the tough questions. You make a good point though: no matter how complicated and difficult these situations are, Congress is in a position where we need to make decisions on how to respond to them. Even if the response is "strategic patience," you need to give a good reason for doing so.

That said, the situations in Syria or Chechnya are complex, and anyone who suggests otherwise may be a sociopath. These are dark, complicated situations that impact the lives of real people who are in real danger. We can't lose sight of that.

Given that, let's talk Syria:

First, we must acknowledge that there's no good option here. If we pull out of there, the people of Syria will be in greater danger from both ISIS and the Assad regime. Lives will be lost, and the region will become even more unstable, which endangers not just Syrians but also Europe and the Middle East. On the other hand, increasing operations in Syria means risking conflict with Russia, which could lead to a much more destructive global conflict if Russia fights back. Finally, there's the option holding steady as we have been: containing ISIS as best we can and covertly helping the resistance fighters. However, this isn't actually solving any of the problems, just delaying the inevitable.

Given that, I recommend that we take action in Syria; go all-out and topple the Assad regime. I'm not a fan of war, and I don't like American imperialism. However, this isn't about forcing American culture and ideals on other people; there are people dying there, refugees are flooding out of the country, and the instability there is bleeding over into the rest of the world. Putin may bluster and make a fuss, but I don't think he's ready to go to war--not over Syria. It's a risk, to be sure, but as far as I can tell it's the least bad option in a situation with no good answers.

That is, unless our current strategy of containing ISIS and supporting the rebels is more effective than I've been led to believe. Having not visited Syria myself, and not being privy to military strategies and statistics, I'm operating on limited information. If "strategic patience" will actually lead to a real resolution to the civil war and ISIS's presence there with overall less bloodshed, then I can get on board with that. 

Chechnya is a different matter. It's awful that the Chechen people have to live under the regime of Kadyrov, but unlike Syria, Checknya is more or less stable, and their problems aren't spilling over into other parts of the world as much. Also, unlike Syria, Russia has a much more direct claim to Chechnya, and Putin is much more likely to respond with aggression to any U.S. intervention there. It sucks, and we shouldn't turn a blind eye to the oppressed Chechens, but I believe our hands are tied as far as direct action goes. The best we can do is apply diplomatic pressure to Russia, asking them to hold Kadyrov accountable for the human rights violations of his regime.

In the end, though, it will be up to the Russian people to change their culture; to make free press and human rights a priority. I worry that brow-beating them about it only hardens their resistance to change.

As for immigration, what do you want to know about specifically? That's a fairly general topic, so I can only generally say that I support immigration, I think it's good for the country, and further I think that we should embrace undocumented immigrants; to allow them to come out of the shadows and join our society. As a Native American, I think it's a little late for me to start being anti-immigrant.

I hope that answers your questions. As always, I welcome input.