Immigration sentences to ponder

“I would never have been able to arrive at my destination without my smartphone,” he added. “I get stressed out when the battery even starts to get low.”

That is from Osama Aljasem, a 32-year-old music teacher from Deir al-Zour in Syria, who took a boat to Greece, walked to Belgrade, and hopes to continue to parts further north and west:

In this modern migration, smartphone maps, global positioning apps, social media and WhatsApp have become essential tools.

Recommended.  And yes, disintermediation is kicking in:

“Right now the traffickers are losing business because people are going alone, thanks to Facebook,” said Mohamed Haj Ali, 38, who works with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital — a major stopover for migrants.

Facebook groups are used to pass along GPS coordinates and the prices charged by the traffickers have fallen in half.


Serbia and Greece are definitely improvements over Syria. Wanting to move to more northerly parts is a sign of excessive ambition, not fear of danger.

I think coming from terror they might have a higher bar for security

"Excessive "... What??!?

Well clearly Germany is about to get some trillion dollar bills on its sidewalks, so there's that.


Like in "they are not really refugees, but immigrants looking for a short cut to a wealthy lifestyle."

Performing economically valuable work for a willing employer is a short cut?

It sure can be, and most often it is.

Maye you haven't heard of it, but try thinking something like: European wellfare stattes, european institutions and all the infrastructure.

And even if we accept your naive idea, that they are coming to Europe to work, the fact is that the same work is often more valuable in Europe than in the arab world. Hence it is a short cut to a wealthy lifestyle - they enjoy the benefits of something they didn't create.

> Hence it is a short cut to a wealthy lifestyle – they enjoy the benefits of something they didn’t create.

This would apply to every natural-born European as well. We all stand on the shoulders of the past.

I'm pretty sure that you can tell the difference between standing on:
a) the shoulders of your parents
b) the shoulder of some strange people with whom you have no relation at all

It is almost as if a lot of people are working hard to improve the wellbeing of their own children, and not so much for other people living 3000 km away on another continent, with another religion.

But you just dont understand the difference?

If you're born in Europe, then you're certainly standing the shoulder of some strange people with whom you have no relation at all, unless you think your parents built all the surrounding wealth, culture, and political institutions.

The earth and everything on it belongs in usufruct to the living.

@Lukas: You used the same words a Swiss uses to describe 250K Germans with permanent residence in Switzerland.

A German in Switzerland: Works, pays taxes and is probably a net gain to the country. A German in Switzerland does not receive benefits on arrival (only after working and paying taxes).
A refugee in Germany: Often does not work, hence a refugee pays little to no taxes and is definitely not a gain for the country. A refugee in Germany receives benefits on arrival and for the rest of his life, even if he does not pay taxes.

- I am amazed at how libertarians, classical liberals and moderates can support the transfer of money from tax paying Germans to "refugees". The German government does not know how much a refugee actually costs, but the lousy forecast was the following: 300,000 new refugees in 2015, average costs of 13,000 Euro per refugee per year.
- I am even more amazed at the support considering that these so called refugees are not refugees. They are not refugees because most come from relatively safe countries like Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, or Pakistan, or they are in safe countries (such as Turkey, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Greece) before coming to Germany. And has nobody noticed how they are mainly young, fit, sunni muslim males, and thus, least likely to be persecuted in their muslim home country?

"– I am amazed at how libertarians,"

Specifically, Open Borders libertarians. That's a distinct subset of libertarians and it's by no means a universal constant. Granted, it's also a subset of liberals and moderates, but there's often an assumption that Open Borders is a widely held Libertarian idea. Generally, speaking most Libertarians support immigration, but without any public income support for immigrants (or natives for that matter).

Why does this tedious debate (that always gets the most comments) always end up being a batt;e of straw? I don't think anyone (reasonable) thinks we should have totally Open Borders where anyone can just walk in and totally Closed Borders where no one can. The debate is how much, and of what kind. Isn't it?

I meant of course either Open OR Closed, not 'and'. And I meant 'battle of straw'

Also, if its a mere matter of money, we could help more refugees in lower cost countries rather than moving them to richer countries.

Greece for example has massive unemployment, so it would make more sense for young Greeks to work at the refugee camps while the Syrian war finishes up and the refugees can go home.

They are going home, right? they only fled because of the civil war, right?

but let's say they both are fleeing Syria and looking for a job, then I'd suggest sending the refugees to China where basic labor is in shortage.

They'll have no problem taking jobs sewing shoes for Nike, right?

Language and presence of other immigrants from the same community can make all the difference between sleeping on the pavement and at least getting by in an unfamiliar place. I doubt many Syrians speak Greek or Serbo-Croatian and I'm not sure they would have much of a potential support network from an existing community of migrants who could help them find work and housing.

There aren't large populations of Syrians anywhere in Europe. They are heading in the wrong direction the second they head north. If they want to be near their compatriots let's set up refugee camps (which already exist). There are 2 million Syrians in Turkey today that's where they need to be heading if the value support networks.

No significant Syrian populations in France, the U.K., Netherlands, or Germany? I doubt that very much.

Please read my comment again more carefully (paying particular attention to the very first word in the comment) to recognize the incompleteness of your response.

The logistics of it is bad... why pay for an African or whatever to stay in Paris or London, where the rents are high, to consume there (food, medicine etc), to muck up the place with crime or simply make life less affordable or palatable for the natives (competing for jobs and real estate, lowering wages), when for that money one could help hundreds of people in his own country or a friendly poor country? Though I am not advocating paying them to not come over. You could drive a truck through those levels of moral hazard.

......or family members that will help them to settle. Mexican migrants can stay in Tennessee or Missouri, going up to Illinois? Why?

The Mexicans are fleeing Mexico. Presumably the smartest ones want to avoid the parts of the US that have transformed into Mexico through the graciousness of the American hosts.

This article was really useful for illustrating that fact:

" "Magdaleno`s existence contrasts sharply with that of her younger siblings, who followed her to Los Angeles but then left. They have settled in Lexington, Ky., had no more than two children each and built better lives than they had known before. Four bought houses. Their children speak English fluently…”

Of course, the ten children of the least assimilated sibling will make up a sizable fraction of the clan`s next generation. The Magdalenos display an exaggerated version of a widely seen pattern—the more likely someone is to give their children a poor start in life, the more kids they are likely to have.

“Her sister Alejandra was the first to leave. In Los Angeles, she and her husband were barely able to make ends meet. As in Mexico, `there was little work and it`s poorly paid,` she said.
“Eight years ago, she and her family moved to Kentucky, where a friend said there was more work and were fewer Mexican immigrants bidding down the wages for unskilled jobs.`

Funny, isn`t it, how uneducated illegal immigrants have a more acute understanding of how the Law of Supply and Demand affects wages than do many academic economists? Quinones` story goes on:

"They went to night school to learn English because few people in Lexington speak Spanish.
"Today, the Magdalenos in Lexington earn more than they did in Los Angeles, in a city where the cost of living is lower [only 65% of LA]. Kentucky is now their promised land, and they talk about California the way they used to talk about Mexico…
"`What we weren`t able to do in many years in California,` Alejandra said, `we`ve done quickly here. We`re in a state where there`s nothing but Americans. The police control the streets. It`s clean, no gangs. California now resembles Mexico—everyone thinks like in Mexico. California`s broken.`"

It`s The Beverly Hillbillies in reverse. Now people are moving from California to Kentucky to be part of a more advanced civilization. More details from Quinones:

"Justina was the last to leave Los Angeles, about the time Angela was pregnant with the triplets.
"She and her husband wanted better schools for their sons, 15 and 9.
"In Lexington, she said, `at the school there are just people who speak English. It`s helped my children a lot.`"

Neocons like Tamar Jacoby are always claiming that mass immigration will turn out just fine so long as we "assimilate" the newcomers. But this example shows that, when it comes to assimilation, numbers count. For their kids to start acting like Americans, these Mexicans had to get away from the twelve million Mexicans in California. But how can many ever succeed in assimilating if the borders remain porous? "

Yes and why are they not heading to the Muslim prosperous and stable majority countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait , Malaysia)?

Saudi Arabia is a horrible country... I think most muslims agree with this statement.

A quick glance at a map will help reveal why Malaysia might not be the most practical destination for refugees from Syria. Are you under the impression that all refugees have unexpired passports and can simply use their Star Alliance frequent flier miles to book their escape from ISIS barbarians?

That's easy- they would never let them in!

So you are against rational, economic behavior toward maximizing returns?

He didn't say he was against it.

What do you suppose, then, is implied by the phrase "excessive ambition"?

Why don't you ask him, instead of attempting to put words into his mouth?

Since you are usually opposed to this it cuts both ways.


Disintermediation, technology and their potential to quickly modernize developing countries are a great reason to be optimistic about the future. India and China are wonderful examples.

But these places need stability, free markets and good governance. Inagine what all those Syrians who are savvy enough to skirt borders could do at home if given the chance.

That we are plagued in the age of space flight with millennia-old religious movements, slave markets and the rest is almost incomprehensible.

I do not understand why anyone would imagine that the ability to accurately hurl a chunk of metal would change human nature and the dynamics of human relationships.

Perhaps you imagine that religious traditions corrupt humans, rather than vice versa?

"Inagine what all those Syrians who are savvy enough to skirt borders could do at home if given the chance."

We don't have to imagine -- we can observe the reality of ISIS.

It is a major fallacy to assume technological progress will lead to moral progress or that good people will be better at using technology than bad. ISIS is a real-life parody of Thomas Friedman-style tech-topianism. They are as good as anyone at broadcasting their message on social media and bringing together people of all different races and nationalities in pursuit of a common goal. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that common goal is establishing a new Caliphate ruled by retrograde theocrats.

You have a point my friend. However, I believe ISIS is formed by a minority (a big minority indeed) and the average folk is more likely to command a peaceful life than to embark on a barbarian quest for blood and holy wars.

Oh, sure, I didn't mean to imply a majority are pro-ISIS. Rather, the minority who are ISIS are unusually effective and savvy in their use of modern technology and are using their success to unleash a horror show against anyone who stands in their way.

"new Caliphate ruled by retrograde theocrats" .... yeah, but such a thing already exists in Saudi Arabia no? In fact there is evidence that ISIS is financed by the Saudi Arabia (a US friend), so there is something deeper going on....

It's amazing that even poor refugees have the latest technology

Fine, now everyone has a better flippin' phone than I do. (They aren't even flippin' anymore.)

When he bought the phone he was probably neither poor nor a refugee.


"Much of the change is driven by the tens of thousands of middle-class Syrians who have been displaced by war. Such tools are by no means limited to them, and are also used by migrants from Africa and the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan."

The world is getting better, little by little...

My weekend is getting better because my in laws are going to stay with JC instead of me this weekend. And understand they are to be treated exactly the same as you would treat your own parents. I'm going to follow up.

Think of it as an Air BNB that ignores all those pesky little imaginary lines. What's yours is mine now let's not let imaginary lines come between your goodies and my appetites. Next week we will work on tearing down those omnious, unwelcoming steel walls surrounding your bank account. Bit by bit comrade. The kulacks and wreckers can't stop us now.

Considering that my father-in-law often ends up helping me with home improvement projects when he stops by, I think JC would love to have my in-laws stay at his house.

What's this my business maybe they are my in-laws now. We all stand on the shoulder of giants and all that. If the fact my ancestors shoulders actually you know help build this country since its founding makes me just as much as a free loader as a Syrian claim jumper then the idea of relatives is ridiculously quaint.

Does something about being a nativist preclude you from using apostrophes?


No one who immigrates to a country crashes on native's couch. They come to work, then they pay rent (probably shared with other immigrants) and buy food and clothes. Without getting into the pros and cons of immigration, the 'hey since you like immigrants they get to sleep at your house' meme/analogy is completely stupid.


No. Most of them get benefits of hundreds of euros / month, a house, washing machine and much more. Intermediairies know this better than you, look at slide 8:

Supposedly you can sign up for multiple free phones in the USA.

These are then sold onto somewhere. I wonder who many end up overseas.

This part is sad: "Soldiers at government checkpoints, as well as at Islamic State checkpoints, commonly demand Facebook passwords, he said. They look at Facebook profiles to determine one’s allegiance in the war."

I wish Facebook would be used only to segregate people because of the music they listen, politics or the clothes they wear. I'm not sure if this is the first time Facebook profiles are used to decide which people shoot or not. Anyway, distopyan novel scenarios are not happening in tech developed L.A. or London, it's happening on rural backwaters.

What is dystopian about this? In the old days the simply made you pronounce a phrase in order to give your identity away. The only dystopian thing is that we've handed over power to a bunch of spergy nerds who think technology can fix human nature.

So what are you going to do about it, tough guy?

I worked for some time interviewing asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. It was amazing how rapidly the smugglers pricing would respond to market changes. When Australia announced tougher measures on arrivals they lowered their prices. At one point smugglers were offering money back guarantees and buy one get one free deals.

Wonder if there are any entrepreneurial trades out there establishing futures markets and derivatives on smuggling rates

I could imagine a thriving futures market in Tijuana where smugglers could hedge their fees.

Call 'em Coyote Futures...

What the Hell could go wrong?

Merkel and other german politicians admitted the integration of the turkish migrant workers who came in the 60s failed utterly:

Why would it be different with syrian asylum seekers?

Because, reasons?

Isn't "integration" different than the European conception of "multiculturalism"? European "multiculturalism" always seemed like somewhat watered-down segregation. So of course, integration wouldn't work if 1) that wasn't really the goal, and 2) policies are in place that segregates immigrants into the bottom tier of society.

Fix those policies, and you'll see better results.

Fix those policies, and you’ll see better results

Fix your immigration policy, and you won't need to settle for a better bad.

That is a fantasy. In every country some people claim if only policies weren't racist, encouraged immigration, provided N opportunities etc then the problems would go away. This proposal makes some sense in a country that doesn't have a strong social security net like the USA but makes very little sense in Nordic countries. Yet the same claim is made is made in the USA and in Sweden and in Australia and in France. Thus it can only be discrimination/lack of accommodation that produces achievement and income gaps.
In reality western countries were successful at integrating immigrants because they stressed integration and assilimation, because the number of newcomers was low relative to the population and because the vast bulk of immigrants shared roughly the same world view and culture.

No, integration is related to multiculturalism (people still want jobs, social status, conspicuous consumption etc). Assimilation is the melting pot. The switch from assimilation to integration is part of the problem.

I've noticed immigration advocates now rarely bother to make the argument that immigration will be beneficial to the citizens. Nobody buys it anymore, so they've settled on guilt-tripping people with accusations of racism.

Making the argument requires a mess of theoretical babble and empirical studies which show benefits, benefits which turn out to be so small for the extant population that they're inconsequential. Adding 0.1% to domestic product each year does not really get anyone's juices flowing. So, they have to cherry-pick benefits to select sectors (whose members donate), just like the defenders of the Export-Import Bank. Or, like Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick, inadvertantly reveal that they do not think much of American workers. Or, like the DNC official who talked to Michael Lind a while back, admit that the strategy is to import a political base for the Democratic Party. So, in lieu of a sales pitch they try to generate inhibitions in various ways. (Except for Bryan Caplan, whose various and sundry disorders induce him to a manifest a certain defoliating tactlessness).

The benefits to the natives are privatized and accrue only to certain parties (like businesses, politicians and NGOs). The costs are socialized and borne by the citizens, either directly (crime rates, displacement, low wages) or through their government (the cost of welfare).

What i don't get -- if he's phone led him all the way, does that mean he had data roaming all the time?

Prepaid data card?

That could well be.

Download the maps locally on gmaps... then use GPS (no data connection needed for GPS). Easy...

*His* not *he's*

My father is confined to a wheel chair in a nursing home, and we've been talking about his WWII experiences quite a bit when I visit. After the Marines were shot at the recruiting station, he was telling me about the ones he encountered in the Pacific on a boat full of refugees. I was curious about the refugees, who were headed to the US and Mexico. I assumed they were Asians fleeing the Japanese, but he told me they were from eastern Europe. They had walked from places like Poland to India to find passage. It is sad this still continues.

In '44 and '45, some 15 million walked west, just ahead of the Red Army...

Similar story in Vietnam. 30 years of continuous war from when imperial Japan invaded in WW2 to the French trying to reassert control to civil war to the American involvement, and only after the communists won was there a refugee crisis. That's how awful communists are

It doesn't take a very high percentage of the refugee population to be terrorists in order to make accepting ANY large refugee population a net negative for society.

I think Europe is standing, right now, on the edge of a precipice. If the refugee flow doesn't abate soon, you are going to see some massive political fireworks go off- and violence that people thought not possible in the EU any longer.

The violence would be regrettable. Also regrettable, however, would be indications that the European public is completely anaesthetized and just an object for the schemes of their repellent elite. The restoration of democratic institutions in Europe and North America is going to require some direct action.

I'm sure you'll be right out there on the front lines. No keyboard warrior, our Art Deco.

+1 the sooner they wake up, the lower the upheaval. This should have been nipped in the bud, going back all the way to the end of the gastarbeiter programs that never sent their workers home.

"Also regrettable, however, would be indications that the European public is completely anaesthetized and just an object for the schemes of their repellent elite."

I'm unsure of this. You clearly have a vigorous, healthy debate about immigration going on in the US. But you don't hear about any legitimate debate happening in Europe. Is this just an example of the how the news is filtered by the major News services for international consumption. For example, mostly what I see written or said, is that some group protests immigrants (refugees) and the 'good' European leaders express their disapproval. Or a story where some 'disreputable' group of 'racists' has formed a proto-fascist party.

I'm curious does the main European press report Republicans and/or the Tea Party as if they were racists or 'proto-fascists'? Certainly, some of the more Left wing news sources spin the news that way within the US, but even CNN and the NYT's stay away from obvious mischaracterizations.

The institutional set-up here makes the 'healthy debate' a pantomime in this county. You can accomplish a few things on the state and local level. The federal level, no.

I disagree. The idea that a difference in leadership at the Federal level makes no difference in outcome is farfetched at best. I do think that the pull from two different sides tends to create a dynamic tension and therefore, regarding controversial issues where the fault lines are fairly evenly divided, not much happens. But on any issue that doesn't obviously break down to a right vs left paradigm, there tends to be clear movement. And isn't that how we want a Republic to operate?

If there's no clear decision, we wait, if there is a clear decision we act, but there's always an other side willing to criticize. Thus whomever the actor is at the moment, they had best act cautiously.

Sorry, basically the same set of issues for 35 years. Nothing much changes. And, of course, the legal profession has arrogated to itself a great deal of discretion to boss the rest of us around and no one does a thing about it. At the local level, we are seeing as we speak vicious elements attempting to reverse and trash the successful initiatives of the last 35 years.

"Sorry, basically the same set of issues for 35 years. Nothing much changes."

Yes, and that's called First world problems. Our problems are relatively trivial and/or relatively hard to solve versus a lot of historical problems. So, there's not a lot of urgency to solve these problems and we tend to go back and forth. And due in large part to that lack of urgency, there's a push by all parts of the political spectrum to drum up a sense of urgency. A feeling that if we don't do something right now, something terrible will happen.

This is some of the best posting JWatts has ever done. Bravo, sir.

Our problems are relatively trivial and/or relatively hard to solve versus a lot of historical problems.

The 'hard problems' of 1910 did not admit of solutions via public policy. And, no, a great many problems are not difficult to solve in a technical sense. They are unsolved due to intertia and / or vested interests.

Please note, in the three years after the 2d World War, the political class managed a rapid demobilization, shepherded the country through a severe recession, and balanced the federal budget. No, their successors cannot manage that.

"You clearly have a vigorous, healthy debate about immigration going on in the US"

You must be kidding. Absent Trump, there wouldn't be any debate. Every discussion has been narrowed to whether you amnesty illegals now or later, and how to resettle even more worthless Somalis and crow about Whitey becoming a minority. They'll be singing the US version of "Kill the Boer" soon enough, maybe in a Rihanna video. The average American has to believe his lying eyes, or else swallow all the bull being fed to him. The people who know better are either paid or ideological shills, or get slapped with accusations of racism, Nazism, supremacism, nativism, marching to the ovens-ism etc. And a sweet saccharine coating of bullshit covers every discussion, as glorious examples of immigrant (and illegal) success are used as stand-ins for the whole community, to get the awwwwwww reaction from the hoi polloi. Let's not forget how the government rigs the gathering of statistics or how the media hides relevant statistics or uses Newspeak to refer to immigrant crimes in the press ("local man", "man from Tucson", "changing his life for the better", "aspiring X"). Also remember how the rights of the natives are trampled and their symbols and heroes literally dug up from their graves to appease some mob, while immigrants talk openly of Reconquistas and are allowed their symbols, heroes, national myths, prejudices, even their warped view of history that teaches them resentment and betrayal.

I'm European myself, but I know that every turd the US lays is going to be the hot new thing here, just like multiculturalism, so I am aghast at what I have been seeing in the US. If it and Western Europe are the countries we should be emulating, then we might as well go full fascist and reject everything added to the West these past two decades of decay save technology. I'd rather my posterity be fashionably embarrassed with me than not exist at all... or curse me for my cowardice in leaving them with Civil War or bondage.

I just found this again.

"Though Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1890-1938) remains more famous for his contributions to the field of linguistics, his other great achievement was as one of the founding fathers of the Eurasian movement.

Furthermore, not only is Westernization “extremely difficult and hemmed in by obstacles”, but is also a “thankless undertaking”, since all indigenous inventions, as well as most mixtures of Romano-Germanic and indigenous traditions, will be rejected by Europe because of their taint-by-association with non-European values.

One consequence of this is that a Westernizing nation “borrows its evaluation of culture from the Romano-Germans”. Cultural imports will always exceed cultural exports, creating a dependency relationship. And these cultural imports must always be implemented, regardless of how jarring or unwholesome is the resultant clash with indigenous traditions – “it must accept without protest everything that genuine Romano-Germans create and consider valuable, even if it conflicts with its national psychology and is poorly understood”.

This has several very deleterious consequences. First, national unity degrades and there arise intense class conflicts and genealogical struggles in the Westernizing nations because of the big differences between various social groups in their degree of Westernization – “social, material and professional differences are much greater in Europeanized nations than in Romano-Germanic nations precisely because ethnographic and cultural distinctions have been added to them”.The destruction of national unity and belief in oneself leads to a national inferiority complex – because the standard of comparison is with the West, and because the Europeanized nation is in a constant state of cultural backwardness, this results in low levels of social morale and lack of patriotism. The unfortunate nation is either dominated by, or is forced to take up a subordinate, dependent position relative to the Romano-Germanic nations – even though the latter aren’t really as good or talented as they present themselves:Not only do intense attempts to catch up with the West result in permanent, self-reinforcing backwardness (because their powers of indigenous innovation are hemmed in by structural obstacles, hence their forced spiritual dependency on the West), but they are also looked down upon by Westerners – either a) for not Europeanizing far enough, or b) deceitfully repressing their “true nature” under a European veneer.

This simultaneous outreach towards the West, and the West’s rejection of it, evokes a tendency in the Europeanized nation to sporadically overcompensate by making leaps into the future in Sisyphean attempts to overtake the West, but this only leads to exhaustion and long periods of stagnation.It must skip several historical rungs and create overnight, ex abrupto, what arose in Romano-Germanic nations as a result of a “series of historical changes”. The consequences of such “leaping” evolution are terrible. Every leap is followed by a period of apparent (from the European standpoint) stagnation, when it is necessary to bring order to the culture, to coordinate the results achieved by a leap in a particular area with other elements of the culture. During this period of “stagnation”, the nation again falls even farther behind. The histories of Europeanized nations are always characterized by brief periods of apparent “progress”, alternating with more or less protracted periods of “stagnation”. In destroying the wholeness and the unbroken incrementalism of the historical process, such historical leaps also disrupt tradition, which is already fragile in a Europeanized nation.Let us emphasize: unbroken tradition is a prerequisite for normal evolution. Leaps and jumps create a temporary illusion that the “common European level of civilization” has been achieved, but they cannot advance a nation in the true sense of the word. Leaping evolution wastes national energies, which are already overburdened owing to the very existence of Europeanization. Using Russia as an example, the red Bolsheviks – as well as their rabidly free-market, pro-Western Bolshevik descendants, the Russian liberals – are excellent illustrations of this entire phenomenon. Both tried their best to leap into the future of the West, which was perceived to be socialism in 1918, and free-market utopia in 1991 – yet both failed and were destined to fail because of the deep conflict between these Western values and indigenous Russian traditions."

Of course we have no idea how many of these "refugees" are ex-militants. Not that it would matter, I guess. Western countries are so weak right now, they would probably take ISIS fighters if they had a sob story about how Assad was mean to them.

I think 'weak' is perhaps less apt than 'vapid'. It's the sort of spirit which led the Manolo-Blahnik-clad twerpette in charge of Britain's national police to babble about 'the consent of communities' in the midst of riots, or which led the Macedonian border police to just fold.

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