OK John, full explanation time.
I think there is a good chance that if we take in refugees we will be attacked. I think we have to do it anyway. First, because we are human beings with human compassion and it is the right thing to do. Each person we turn away would be at least living in a hellish situation and just might be killed. It's like Schindler's List. Each one is a life we could save. Think about it this way. Each year over 10,000 people die in firearms homicides in this country. ( http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm ) Each year there are over 30,000 auto related deaths. (http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview ) Each year untold hundreds of thousands die from heart disease, diabetes and other diet related health issues. And yet we still have guns, Big Macs, and cars. Why? Because on some level we realize life is inherently dangerous and choose to live a life based on our principles in spite of the danger. Compassion is one of those principles. This is my first, and probably most important, argument.
But there is more.
As I said, I understand there is no diplomatic negotiation that will ever work with ISIS. There is no appeasement. None of that will work. Ever. And yet we cannot just go in there dropping bombs and killing people.
When the time comes to fight ISIS, it will likely require a commitment to war the like Sherman's march to the sea or Genghis Khan. I don't know if you know this, but many in the South are still pissed off by that whole Sherman thing, it leaves a lasting impression. This type of warfare will require things most Americans are uncomfortable with, hell, most of the world will be uncomfortable with and unlike previous wars, all of it will be news. They are teaching grade school children to fight and be suicide bombers as you know. (PBS Frontline ISIS in Afghanistan - http://video.pbs.org/video/2365608927/ ) You cannot win a war like that without a steel resolve that is currently not present either here or in the international community. We would be committing unjustified atrocities. This would feed directly in to the desire of the enemy.
Their entire worldview, from recruitment to retention, their propaganda, their entire identity and narrative relies on their heroic opposition to an oppressive Western World. Unfortunately, they have a lot of material with which to work. They can point to countless instances of Westerners, predominantly Christian westerners negatively meddling in their world. From propping up dictatorial regimes, to dropping bombs and drone strikes and collateral damage, we have bettered our own state by degrading theirs. Our tragedies make worldwide news and theirs aren't even mentioned. How many Iraqi and Syrian citizens, not ISIS or Taliban, but just plain old trying to raise a family in my culture people, have died by military or terrorist violence (not just at US hands, but total) this century alone? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? I would be willing to wager the overwhelming majority of the western world couldn't even answer the proper order of magnitude, much less get within a stone's throw of the real number.* Four dead people in Benghazi get more news time and attention than hundreds of thousands of dead Muslims in the middle east and Africa. The current narrative is that we are a racist, selfish country within our own borders and in the larger world. There is an alarming amount of evidence to back up this claim. ** I will not definitively state it is true, but there is more than enough evidence to support that as a viable narrative. If we go in there arrogant and mad, we feed that narrative more fuel. That increases the resolve and recruitment of the enemy. Now, we are sending in our boys and girls to fight a larger, fiercer and more determined enemy. How does that help?
Here is how I hope it happens.
First, we accept refugees. Again, because we are compassionate and aren't freaking evil. Also, because it helps reduce the impression in the world that we are Muslim hating, racist assholes. We will encourage and support those who do decide to go in and fight ISIS. The people that live in and around that region will be forced to fight or be killed. As we know, ISIS isn't big at the bargaining table. I think of ISIS like Ebola. It is too virulent and deadly to spread as far as it could. It burns through the population so fast and so thoroughly that nobody has time to leave to spread it or survives long enough to take it out of the region. Still dangerous as hell, but we can contain it. Leave it to fester in the region and highlight the barbarism, depravity, and horror they are dealing out to their own people. The whole world sees it up close and in constant coverage. Hopefully, it burns out on it's own, like Ebola. Contain it and they kill off so many people and their barbarism shows through the flames of their own hatred will be their demise. It is my understanding that they hold executions near constantly and mass executions with regularity. It wont be long before there is no one left to support them. Every one of their fighters that is busy baking bread and fixing the plumbing is one that isn't firing a rifle or building an IED. And they didn't just take the territory they hold from no one. There are interested parties that want that land back. We need to reduce the flow of people to their side. We have to prove we are the good guys. It would be foolhardy to assume anybody else sees us automatically as the good guys. Especially in the middle east.
If we are attacked, especially by a refugee or refugees, we still don't go in there unless the attack is so bad the entire world understands why we go. They kill 200 people, we don't go. That doesn't justify the type of warfare we will need to conduct to to any damn good. I don't know what size attack it would take, but I bet the whole world will know it if we see it. Think Pearl Harbor.
What I'm afraid will happen is we will be attacked and go in there trying to fight a war like we did in Iraq. Hell, even The Onion, knew going into Iraq was stupid. ( http://www.theonion.com/multiblogpost/this-war-will-destabilize-the-entire-mideast-regio-11534) Let me repeat that. THE ONION had a better grasp of the consequences of the invasion of Iraq than the Presidential administration of the time. We cannot afford to make that mistake again. We get drawn in, still looking like the bad guys to the Muslim world. Every disenfranchised, unemployed, and oppressed Muslim in the world sees validation of the ISIS narrative. It is the Christian West against the Islamic East. I don't think even 1% of Muslims buy in to that, but even 0.9% of 1.3 billion keeps a war going for a loooong time. Do you think the people and countries that would like to see American power diminished in the world would feel sorry for us and not mess with us while we were so occupied with this long, drawn out culture war? Yeah, me either. Now we are pouring money and children into a meat grinder while we diminish our standing in the world community and allowing the more adversarial countries a freer reign while we are busy. None of that helps us. Reduce our treasury, our status and our people. Already we have problems with debt and helping our veterans I can think of nothing that would exacerbate those problems more than getting into another war. We may yet have to anyway. But let it be our last resort.
I heard someone say something that I think is a perfect fit for this situation. You can't kill an ideology with a bullet.
But you sure can create one.
* I submit this site only to provide an estimate. I don't assert that this site has totally accurate information but would likely provide an accurate range. This doesn't include Syria or Afghanistan. Imagine the chaos if the USA had 10% of those casualties. This is a humanitarian nightmare of incredible proportions and for the most part we just shrug. Is it any wonder we create more and more enemies in the region?
** Missing white woman syndrome, Beirut attacks go unnoticed while Paris gets world wide continuous coverage, Black Lives Matter, US incarceration rates highest in the world with a disproportionate amount of those imprisoned being minority. I could go on and on, (Ferguson, Eric Garner)...now I hear you saying those aren't proof of anything and you are totally right. But, there is a legitimate perception of this in the world with evidence. Perception is what matters in this instance.