Juliette Kayyem: European Migrant Crisis Anticipated Months Ago

September 9, 2015

National security expert and host of the Security Mom podcast Juliette Kayyem joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan for Boston Public Radio.

Highlights from the interview include:

On the European migrant crisis:

This is a crisis because this was so anticipated six months ago. Anyone who saw what was happening knew that at some stage the sponge of Europe, which was absorbing dribs and drabs of migrants, was going to get too saturated. Putting that aside and taking the heartstrings to the side—because all of the pictures and the children make all of us want to act in a certain way—even if you multiplied the number of refugees by four, you’re still less than one percent of the [European Union’s] overall population. The problem is the uneven distribution. If you evenly distributed this problem, it would be negligible. 

On the history of the crisis:

Part of it is the fear of the Syrians, and who they are… let me tell you who they are: These are middle-class Syrians who thought they could wait it out, who thought that they were protected by Assad—not necessarily part of Assad— and now their country is crumbling so much that they are moving. If they were radicalized, they would join ISIS. These are educated, people that we would know.

On the weaponized West Point pillow fight:

The military traditions, most of them should be gone. It was abuse, this year. This idiocy of actually putting helmets in the pillowcases is remarkable…this idea that the military is somehow exclusive and can’t be touched or interrogated is just ridiculous. Whether it’s having to do with sexual assault and sexual harassment, or traditions like this…it’s a culture of hazing that permeates too much of the military and you have to root it out institution by institution.

On Donald Trump’s national security plan:

First of all, I don’t joke about Trump. I think this guy could be president. I don’t think this will peak and he will put his foot in his mouth. In my lifetime I’ve never seen anything like this and I’ve never seen someone’s capacity to actually galvanize such a strange collection of people behind him. I’m taking him seriously, and I think he may have found an issue that is the Obama Administration’s Achilles heel, which is that the Veteran’s Administration did not get better under their administration. There are some reforms that have been put into place, some attempts to fix things like health care, but I think if you ask a lot of veterans about their services and the Veteran’s Administration, it’s not there yet.

To hear more, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.

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