More than 4 million Syrians have left their war-torn country since civil war began in 2011, and with ISIS on the move that human flood seeking solace is unlikely to recede any time soon. This spate of refugees comes on top of lesser-known but equally desperate migrations from the sites of early entrants into the last 15 years of war in the Mideast: From Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, millions more seek the safety of the Western world.
The United States have been insulated from these migrant crises thanks to a lengthy, stringent refugee vetting process and the natural barrier of two giant moats in the form of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Our allies in Europe, however, have enjoyed no such guarantees of volition. Refugees are coming, whether they like it or not.
And because some do not—and even those sympathetic to the refugee cause must concede that the sheer quantity of migrants in need presents a daunting problem—closing Europe’s borders is now suggested as a potential solution. Already, a few smaller countries, like Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia, have taken this step, leaving would-be migrants trapped by the tens of thousands in Greece and Turkey.
Writing at The Atlantic, neoconservative David Frum made the case for the rest of Europe to follow suit. “[A]lthough migration is attractive to the migrants,” he argued, “it is unwanted by European electorates—and the tension between continued migration and public opinion is changing the Continent in dangerous ways.” Suggesting that the burden refugees present is simply too much to be borne, Frum lionized Australia’s model of closed harbors and involuntary detention centers for unapproved immigrants, insisting that—once possessed of electricity and sewage disposal—refugee camps are good enough.
Tellingly, Frum cast aside as too hard to seriously countenance a surer remedy to the migrant crisis: “prompt resolution of the wars that displace people in the first place.” And, those who lack Frum’s complicity in starting several of those wars might add, “stop launching destabilizing interventions with no clear end or goal in sight.”
Indeed, what Frum and other buccaneering hawks refuse to consider seriously is the one real solution to these migrant crises, namely ending the chaos-producing military interventions which make the Mideast uninhabitable for the people who flee. The direct cause-and-effect connection here is so blatant that not even Frum’s casual glossing over can disguise it: The migrant crisis with Europe we must now contend is an unintended (but thoroughly predictable) consequence of Western interference in the Middle East over the last decade and a half.
America has not significantly suffered this consequence due to our geographic buffers, but Europe has and will continue to do so as long as its neighboring region remains in turmoil. Supposed solutions like closing borders or, on the other side of the aisle, using young migrant workers to prop up Europe’s failing welfare states are mere Band-Aids at best—and, realistically, probably not Band-Aids with a whole lot of stick to them.
What would persuade migrants to go home is the renewal of precisely what they walk toward Europe to find: Stability. Safety. Security. These millions are not seeking Paris, but peace. If they can find that at home in the Mideast, the long, hard journey to Europe will lose its attraction for most.
The wages of intervention is immigration, and it is a wage which will be paid until that intervention comes to a close.