Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees seeking safe haven and a better life have become the rhetorical collateral damage of an intense debate that's followed the terror attacks in Paris. Even though the vast majority of the suspected culprits were European nationals, Western politicians have chosen to grandstand on the question of resettling refugees.
In the United States, more than a dozen governors have issued orders seeking to block Syrian refugees from finding sanctuary in their states. And in Europe, an already polarized climate has darkened, with those seeking to turn away would-be migrants citing the Paris attacks as proof of security threat that the refugees supposedly pose.
In this context, Poland's new foreign minister, whose right-wing party won recent elections, offered this rather bewildering suggestion.
"They can go to fight to liberate their country with our help," said Witold Waszczykowski, who was set to take office on Monday.
"Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have come to Europe recently. We can help them form an army," he said on public television over the weekend. "Tens of thousands of young men disembark from their rubber dinghies with iPad in hand and instead of asking for drink or food, they ask where they can charge their cellphones."
Waszczykowski's colleague, the country's incoming European Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski, has already said E.U. plans to distribute refugees across the continent were not a "political possibility."
So Waszczykowski believes it makes sense to arm and send refugees back into the war zone they desperately fled. He said this would avoid a scenario where "we send our soldiers to fight in Syria while hundreds of thousands of Syrians drink their coffee" in the streets of Berlin.
It's a rather odd statement. Apart from a detachment of special forces, the United States has said it won't send ground troops into Syria -- forget about Poland. And, considering the real hardships and dangers endured by myriad refugees making the journey to Europe, it's a bit much to begrudge them having a cup of coffee in relative safety.
Given the climate of xenophobia in parts of Europe, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.
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