Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Demographic Bombing

| December 17, 2015

People as Weapons in Syria and Beyond

In recent weeks, several leading Republican presidential candidates have argued in favor of selectively sealing U.S. borders to Syrians and others. That—and the discontinuation of any Syrian refugee resettlement programs—they argue, will keep the United States safe from terrorist attacks. Such fantastic and ill-informed suggestions are counterproductive on their own terms, but they also distract from very real and consequential ways in which refugees and migrants are being used as political and military weapons.


All sides in the Syrian civil war have, to some extent, strategically engineered mass movements of civilians into and away from their areas of territorial control. In some cases, the systemic depopulation and repopulation of territory represent attempts to gain tactical military advantage....

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For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Greenhill, Kelly M..“Demographic Bombing.” Foreign Affairs, December 17, 2015.

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