Skip to main content
Syrian refugee children receive gifts in a housing compound in southern Lebanon.
Podcast

Syrian refugees and Western inaction

, , and

Guest host Robert McKenzie, visiting fellow in the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and Leon Wieseltier, the Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy, discuss how Western inaction impacts Syrian refugees and the political landscape in Europe.

“It’s astonishing how much one can know and not act because it really is not just about the mind; it’s also about the will,” Wieseltier asserts. “And for various reasons we have lacked the will to act. One of those reasons is the president, probably the primary reason, who is dogmatic and even proud about his policy in Syria. The other is that the repeated imagery of atrocity has the unfortunate and darkly ironic effect of anesthetizing people to it as well.”

“It is a matter of national honor; it has to do with the very essence of this country and its public philosophy that we offer refuge to the oppressed and that we welcome immigrants because they refresh our society in every way and they are our strongest barrier against social decadence.”

Also in this episode, Elizabeth Mann, fellow in the Brown Center on Education Policy, addresses the importance of providing every child with a high level of education. Finally, Bill Finan interviews Donald Kettl about his new book, “Escaping Jurassic Government: How to Recover America’s Lost Commitment to Competence.”

Show notes:

Enough is enough – U.S. abdication on Syria must end

The Syrian refugees and us

Towards solutions to the Syrian refugee crisis

Want new ideas for managing the Syrian refugee crisis? Engage Syrian Americans

A flood of criticism on proposed ESSA regulations, but will anything change?

Thanks to audio producer Mark Hoelscher and producer Vanessa Sauter, and also thanks for additional support from Eric Abalahin, Jessica Pavone, Nawal Atallah, Basseem Maleki, and Rebecca Viser.

Subscribe to the Brookings Cafeteria on iTunes, listen in all the usual places, and send feedback email to BCP@Brookings.edu.

Authors

Get daily updates from Brookings