Reaping the Whirlwind

Reaping the Whirlwind

It started with scuffles in Calais, and has mushroomed into the pictures beamed all around the world of what looks like the entire population of the Middle East, Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa making their way to the West via Budapest’s central station. It is like some disaster movie, something that needs Roland Emmerich to turn up and polish up the final product.

How did we get to this point, where Western countries would seriously be looking at absorbing the a quarter of the population of a country that, not even ten years ago, was stable and peaceful?

We, the West, are reaping the whirlwind. Or rather the people living in the West are reaping the whirlwind, impacted by a crisis created by the folly of our leaders. When Saddam Hussein was removed in Iraq to be replaced by a corrupt government dependent on the agreement and goodwill(!) of religious mullahs and tribal warlords, somebody should have sensed that it is not a particularly good idea to meddle around with these countries. Instead, we just set about reusing this faulty template and destabilising other regions too. Syria and Libya to name but two.

The Middle East and the Arab/Muslim world in general has never experienced democracy, and the region is, quite simply, not programmed to receive. One might as well try nailing a glob of jelly to the wall while trying to pass a camel through the eye of a needle – only after having to sift through a giant haystack first. Regardless of one’s position regarding the motives in pursuing the invasion of Iraq (humanitarianism, democracy, oil, whatever) the result is that a stable, secular leader was removed – resulting in a massive political vacuum that has been occupied by the barbarians of Isil/Isis/Daesh/whatever.

One might have thought that our leaders might have learned their lesson after having their noses rubbed in it in Afghanistan and Iraq, but instead they just did the same thing all over again in siding with the so-called “rebels” in Syria – another secular state that was, compared to many of its neighbours, efficiently run.

Yes, some political opponents in Syria may have had their fingers, toes and nether regions introduced to power sockets in dark basements by Assad’s secret police. Some genuine believers in democracy may have had their houses bugged and their family and friends tracked by some shifty-looking guy in a well-cut Western suit and a pair of shades. And so on. But beheadings, the mass butchery, the destruction of priceless historical artifacts? Even monsters like the Khmer Rouge didn’t go this far.

Syria under Assad may not have been the perfect place to live, but the ordinary man, woman and child lived fairly decent lives in a country that actually functioned. Women’s rights in the Syria were light years ahead of other countries in the region, and the president for all his faults is an urbane, educated man with a wife who could walk the streets without having to cover her head in a sack. Compared to the likes of our “allies” like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states – little more than oil companies with a seat at the United Nations – Syria was a bastion of modernism – as well as being the cradle of ancient civilisiation – the evidence of which is being destroyed brick by brick by the Islamist barbarians.

What were Obama and the rest thinking when they made the decision to side with the “rebels” and set Syria and its people on the path to destruction? Did they really believe that they were going to be dealing with Han Solo, Princess Leia and a bunch of friendly furry creatures? When they heard about these “rebels” were they in fact having visions of some Syrian Skywalker slaying the evil emperor Bashar al-Sidious and everybody living happily ever after?

One has to wonder.

It could, and should, have been so easy. For once, put their ideological bullshit back in the box and let Assad squash the rebels and nip the problem in the bud. No civil war, no Isis, no destabilisation, no refugee crisis that has created the biggest movement of people since the end of the Second World War.

The same applies to Libya. Yes, Gaddafi was more than a little loopy, what with his Amazonian bodyguards, strange custom-made uniforms and predilection for farting in tents crowded with foreign dignitaries. But he was far better than the alternative that now exists – a shell that was once a country, little more than a free pathway to the Mediterranean for the armies of migrants heading north from hellholes in the Horn of Africa. The moment I saw the graves of British soldiers, lovingly cared for in all the years of the Gadaffi regime, being vandalised by Islamists, I knew the writing was on the wall. Sadly, our leaders just carried on with their pipedream rhetoric.

We need to deal with the flow of refugees as best we can. Balancing humanitarianism with the rights of people here, who will ultimately have to foot the bill. We also need to get it right in distinguishing genuine refugees from those that will follow in their wake, bringing with them the inevitable crime and religious fundamentalism. Most Western countries can happily accommodate an educated Syrian family. It is less difficult for people to have to deal with the Somalian pirates, Islamic nutters and Albanian gangsters that will no doubt jump on the next available train.

More crucially though, we need to examine the nub of the problem – the region these people are fleeing. The problem cannot and will not be solved by carrying on the current path and dreaming about a democratic future; if it means putting tails between legs, siding with Russia and strengthening the Assad government, so be it.

The objective has to be the removal of Isis, first from Syria and then, preferably, from the face of the earth. There is no room for compromise with those who do not even believe in the process; quite simply, Isis, like Ebola, has to be eradicated. If these means the abrogation of certain matters concerning human rights and turning a blind eye to Syrian forces deploying and using chemical weapons, again, so be it.

The past months have shown that the alternative is far, far worse.

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