Two more perspectives on the “refugee crisis”

My article two days ago titled ‘The so-called “refugee” flood‘ attracted a lot of attention from readers.  Since then I’ve come across two more articles that reinforce what I had to say there.

In the first, Fraser Nelson argues that ‘It is not war, but money, that drives people abroad. That is not going to change any time soon.

When the crew of HMS Bulwark first fished immigrants out of the Mediterranean, they were expecting to find the world’s hungry, wretched and destitute. Instead, they found them relatively healthy, well-dressed and carrying mobile phones and credit cards, which they intended to use upon arrival in Italy.

The military learnt then what politicians are only slowly beginning to work out – that this is not simply a refugee crisis. The world’s poor are on the move because they’re not quite so poor as they used to be, and can afford to travel. A great migration has begun, and it could be with us for decades.

The photographs of the body of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy, vividly convey the human tragedy on Europe’s borders – but not the complexity. Many are fleeing war, but many are fleeing poverty. The Royal Navy found a pregnant Nigerian woman who had paid $1,200 for the journey and a father from Faisalabad, an industrial city in Pakistan.

. . .

It might not feel like it, but the world is more prosperous and peaceful than at any time in human history – yet the number of emigrants stands at a record high. But there is no paradox. As more people have the money to move, more are doing so – and at extraordinary personal risk.

So the Great Migration is a side-effect of perhaps the greatest success of our times: the collapse in global poverty. The Washington-based Center for Global Development recently set this out, in a study drawing on more than a thousand national censuses over five decades.

When a poor country becomes richer, its emigration rate rises until it becomes as wealthy as Albania or Armenia are today. This process usually takes decades, and only afterwards does wealth subdue emigration. War is a catalyst. If conflict strikes, and the country isn’t quite as poor as it once was, more of those affected now have the means to cross the world. The digital age means they also have the information.

. . .

If you misjudge the refugee crisis, you incubate a political crisis … Efforts intended to help can end up causing harm, costing more lives. Since the Italian navy decided to send rescue missions to the Mediterranean, the number of people making the crossing (and perishing) has trebled.

Doubtless Angela Merkel meant well when she invited every Syrian to apply for asylum in Germany. But she will be toasted by the new breed of people traffickers, who will now have far more families to extort and leave stranded in Budapest or pack into boats on the coast of Libya.

. . .

The Great Migration is a 21st century problem, far bigger than Syria and bigger than the authorities in Brussels seem able to comprehend. To panic now, as Mrs Merkel is doing, will just bring more to panic about. The solutions of the last century – refugee camps, or the notion that you can stem the flow of migrants with foreign aid – need to be abandoned, and a new agenda needs to be forged. Europe, in short, needs to begin a new conversation.

There’s more at the link.

I can confirm Mr. Nelson’s perspective from my own extensive experience in the Third World.  I’ve seen refugees in at least a dozen countries.  Without exception, those who were in any way educated or had access to any resources at all dreamed of reaching Europe or the USA.  Getting the hell out of the Third World and into the First World was an all-consuming desire for them.  In 2013 I wrote about one such man I met in Eritrea.  I urge you to read his story for yourself . . . and realize that he’s far from alone.  (I wonder if he made it?  I think he may have died of his disease by now – he wasn’t well when I met him.  It would have been a terribly sad end to a tragic life.)

Julia Hartley-Brewer offers a different perspective on the crisis.  She argues that ‘The only way to save children like Aylan Kurdi is to go to war against the psychopaths they’re fleeing. Everything else is just empty noise.

More than 210,000 Syrians are now estimated to have died since the violence in their country began in 2011, according to the the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. That figure includes at least 10,664 children.

Yet we didn’t wring our hands over each of their deaths. Why not?

. . .

It is all very well wringing our hands and tweeting out hashtags about welcoming refugees, and maybe even sending some money to a relief charity, but that won’t deliver a safe and happy future for the many millions of Syrians – or the many millions more Iraqis, Afghans, Eritreans and others who are also fleeing violence in their home countries.

Even the practical suggestions like offering Syrian orphans safe passage will be just a drop in the ocean. Indeed, even if David Cameron agreed to allow an extra 10,000 or even 100,000 Syrian refuges to come to make their home in Britain, it would still not touch the sides of this epic human disaster.

Offering safe haven to a few thousand more refugees may well be a welcome break for those lucky enough to win that particular lottery, but what about the other millions who are in just as much need? What do we plan to do about them?

As much as our hearts may break when we look at the image of a drowned little boy, if we are not prepared to do anything about the reasons why his family felt that getting on that rickety boat to Greece was worth the risk, then it counts for nothing.

This refugee crisis is not going to be resolved until Britain and other western nations wake up and see the real picture: that we need to instigate military action to oust the psychopathic regimes and Islamic extremists who are forcing people like three-year-old Aylan and his family to flee their homes in their millions.

It will cost money and it will cost lives. What we have to decide now is whether we are willing to pay that high a price so that we don’t have to look at another photograph of a dead child washed up on a beach.

Everything else, I’m afraid, is just bleeding heart sentimentality.

Again, more at the link.

The problem with Ms. Hartley-Brewer’s suggestion is simply this.  What pressing national interest should drive one country to send its armed forces into combat on behalf of refugees from another country?  As far as I can see, there is no pressing national interest that could (or should) persuade the United States to expend the lives of its soldiers (not to mention an immense amount of money) to do that.  Absent such a cause, why should our soldiers, sailors and airmen put themselves in danger?

I don’t know what the answer is from the point of view of the refugees, who should more accurately be called ‘economic migrants’.  I do know that you can’t have both a modern welfare state and open borders.  You can have one, or the other, but not both.  If you have open borders, a welfare state will be swamped by all and sundry wanting access to the benefits it offers.  If you don’t have a welfare state, its attraction to economic migrants will be far less, so you won’t need to spend so much on securing its borders . . . but you’ll have to wean its citizens off their dependence on government handouts.  In today’s First World economies, I don’t think the electorate is willing to accept that.  (Try telling today’s average US urban voter that they must accept smaller government handouts.  Good luck with that . . . and with surviving after they realize what you’re saying.)

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.  Who’s going to win?  Unless First World governments grow a spine, only the extremists (on both sides) are likely to come out on top of this one.



  1. You're right about all this. Just like the Latinos crossing our southern border, none of the migrants reaching Europe are fleeing war. The escaped the war when they reached Turkey. What they're looking for is a better life.

    It sounds nice, until you realize just how many people want to do this. They aren't asking for temporary visits – they want to move in permanently. And the other problem that no one wants to talk about – the countries they are fleeing are poor and awful because they're populated by people like them.

    Unless the migrants are willing to abandon their native culture (to include religion – Islam and everything else don't mix), they will never fit in and never succeed in the West. They will just form larger and larger ghettos, like in Paris, Berlin, Stockholm… And let's face it – nobody really wants to change their own culture. Go visit southern South America, and see all the German Bund halls for an example.

    As far as a solution to the problem? The only successful solution that comes to mind from history is Caesar's solution to the German problem in Gaul. It seems a bit harsh to our modern eyes, but it did work. Of course, it wouldn't look good on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. And would bring up a host of other problems.

    But you have to pick which principles you must stand on and which you can bend for a while, and sometimes all your options are bad. The trick is to divine which is the least bad option, and implement it with all your strength, ignoring the outcry from those who don't necessarily wish you well.

  2. Hmmm, going to war against the psychopaths… not really a government's mission; sounds like a job for a secret society. And, at that, it probably works a lot better in fiction than it would in real life.

  3. A second factor comes into play here too, by giving the refugees (both the war weary and the economic ones) an easy exit and cushy new home are we undermining their willingness to defend their homeland or stay home and work to make their homeland a better place to live?

    Think of Cuba, would things have played out differently if we had not given the Cuban people unhappy with their lot there an exit option to a better life. If they were stuck in Cuba maybe they would have done something to change things there for the better. We got some really great people from Cuba but at what cost to them, their homeland and us.

    Same question on Mexico, if we weren't providing a home for something like a quarter of their population could the people have worked to make Mexico a better place to live?

    Things haven't always been so great here either but Americans didn't run off to somewhere better, we dug in and made America a better place to live.

  4. How long before someone running for US President suggests a solution that will bear strong resemblance to "white man's burden"? Sane people should be ready to call that out before it gains momentum.

    How about this (I've read others around the Interwebz suggest vaguely similar stuff)? Saudi Arabia, in the interest of a stable (i.e., good for the Saudi elites) Middle East, funds an international group of mercenaries (pardon me, freedom fighters) to train and lead as many of the expats that want to "take back" their homelands. With good equipment, good cadre, and lots of Saudi oil dollars, the resulting armed force could . . . Oh, crap – they could take over Saudi Arabia, because who wants a poor country like Syria when you could have all that oil? Heh.

  5. One important thing that no one wants to mention , the West does not have the capability to pacify the Middle East much less Africa . We don't have manpower (for example the medium age of a German is 40 and the average number of children is 1.3 or so) money or the will.

    No one else is much better save the US and if it weren't for government handouts in the US we'd be in the midst of civil war and have millions of people starving.

    What the West can do though is preserve our own borders.

    However the ruling coalition doesn't want to do this, there are a lot of reasons for it, for the Economic Liberals its in short "money" but on the Left they are in a social signalling loop. Kicking these people out would make them feel bad an lower in group status and they can't have that.

    As such these people will cheerfully fill their supposed country with refuse, man, woman children even at the risk of destruction of their own society.

    In the end though, solution will come down to forcing people out or the various nations will cease to exist.

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