Published June 24, 2013
Despite two years of inaction, President Obama has now pledged increased military and humanitarian support for the Syrian rebel forces. After nearly 100,000 casualties, mostly civilian, the administration has finally been moved enough to intervene, going as far as extending the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrian Refugees to allow 9,000 undereducated and poverty-stricken Syrians into the U.S.
The Obama administration’s move will have little to no effect on the two-year plus Syrian refugee disaster, and further, makes no sense in the context of our country’s current immigration crisis. More than 40,000 high-skilled applicants are denied entry into the U.S. every year due to caps on the H1B visa, the visa designed for highly skilled laborers. And according to a recent survey by the Manpower Group, 39 percent of U.S. manufacturers have job openings for which they cannot find a qualified applicant.
These caps prevent American companies from harnessing talent abroad and hamper their ability to expand and create jobs in the U.S. So why is Obama bringing unskilled labor into the U.S. while denying entry to the highly skilled workers?
The answer lies in President Obama’s deferential relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As we have seen in the unfolding Edward Snowden chase, Putin doesn’t care what Obama thinks. American influence over Russia has waned since Hillary Clinton pressed the reset button on the relationship. Sadly, there seems to be no consequences from the White House for the willful ignoring of U.S. demands. For the past two years the Russian president has also successfully blocked U.S. action and assistance to the Syrian rebels. Obama’s inaction has benefitted Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, at a time when most world leaders are hoping to topple him.
Despite its geographic proximity to the conflict, Russia has not accepted any of the thousands of Syrian refugees applying for asylum. When the United Nations Security Council attempted to organize an inspection of the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan last month, Russia joined China in issuing a veto, preventing much-needed oversight of a dangerously developing situation. Despite its pledge to give millions in humanitarian aid to Syrians, its actions make clear that Russia cares not for those suffering from the conflict.
President Obama, on the other hand, has been unable to act decisively in the face of Russian opposition to ensure the fall of the Assad regime. His recent turn toward a policy of compassion and mild assistance is remarkable given his repeated support for the UN’s ‘Responsibility To Protect’ concept. The “Russian reset,” the term Hillary Clinton coined to describe the Obama administration’s new policies toward Russia, has resulted in a dramatic change in how the two countries interact. The problem is the consequence has been a weakened Washington and an emboldened Moscow.
Caught on open microphone last year requesting “flexibility” from Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev in dealing with substantive policy issues before his re-election, the White House’s dealings with Russia have been characterized by one weak and pitiful failure after another. Following a speech by Secretary Clinton last December, in which she accused Putin of trying to “re-Sovietize the region,” tensions between the White House and Kremlin remain at their highest in decades. As further proof, John Kerry, during his trip to the Kremlin last month, was left waiting for three hours to meet with Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Obama and his administration have become the water boys for their varsity foreign-policy quarterback, Vladimir Putin.
As Obama begins to unfold his plans for intervention in Syria, it’s hard to expect anything more than words. As long as the Kremlin opposes the fall of Assad, it seems President Obama is content to let the situation linger at the expense of the Syrian civilian population. To make matters worse, his policy to allow 9,000 uneducated Syrians into the United States while the unemployment rate is at record levels signals an indifference to the millions of Americans struggling to find work.