Why Is the World Becoming Such a Nasty Place?
Central American parents send their unescorted children northward in hopes of remittances and eventual anchor amnesty for themselves. Our friend Mexico facilitates the exodus through its own sovereign territory (hoping that no one stops along the transit, and happy that the border is further shredded). Central American governments seem happy too. More money will be sent back home. Fewer mouths will be left to feed. Possible dissidents will emigrate. A new generation of expatriates in the U.S. will grow fonder of and lobby for Central America the longer they don’t have to live there.
We utter “the children,” and discussion about proper culpability, cynical manipulation, and disinformation ends. In such a fantasy world, parents don’t manipulate “the children” as pawns; countries don’t try to export what they see as their surplus population; Mexico doesn’t stir the pot; and liberal activists don’t cynically calculate electoral advantage. There are children in need at the border -- but there is a great deal more as well. When the president of the United States renders his nation’s immigration laws irrelevant, people notice. And when he establishes a radical expansion in entitlements, those abroad likewise notice. And when he offers a narrative that “they” are culpable and owe much to the exploited, people arrive.
Try a thought experiment of extending the logic of the current border disorder. Imagine a growing disequilibrium between Chicago and Canada. (On the other hand, why imagine it since it already exists?) Thousands of the children from the most violent areas of the inner city of Chicago -- where shootings are approaching levels in Central America -- decide to flee the misery for the chance of something better elsewhere. They head north. Some are preteens; some are teenagers; most are innocents; some gang members; some come with their parents; most do not. Most are poor and without resources and capital. They begin walking or getting on trains to Canada and soon mass there at the border in the thousands, as refugees from horrific conditions of the inner city of Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago. Some gang members have charged them transit fees. Imagine further that U.S. officials, with a wink and a nod, had encouraged them to leave, given the endemic violence, and the social costs of addressing it. Their parents likewise hope that they are adopted by the Canadians, given citizenship and that they soon become anchors for their own emigration out of war-torn Chicago. And imagine what might be the reaction if the children were not welcomed en masse by Canada. Would we then blast and damn Canada as nativist, racist, and uncaring for not openly bringing our “children” into their homes? Would the influx be a moral act on the part of the United States or American parents who willingly facilitated the transit, and would it be a fair charge against Canada for not immediately taking the arrivals in as likely future citizens?
Same Old, Same Old
Vladimir Putin is systematically gobbling up the expanse of the former Soviet Union. He swallows some land, regurgitates a bit, then slowly digests what he gulped down, burps, and then has another slice. Future targeted states, perhaps like Estonia, should understand that they are slated to play the 1939 role of Poland after the earlier Anschluss and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Estonia should consider itself safe because it is a NATO member; but Russia thinks it is most vulnerable precisely because it is a NATO member: what better way to destroy NATO than to champion the Russian minorities of a NATO member as pretext to carving out territory, and to expect nothing at all in response?
The Dutch were outraged that the daughter of Vladimir Putin -- whose surrogate thugs just shot down a civilian airliner bound from Holland – was living it up in a penthouse in the Netherlands, but then they quickly apologized for being outraged. It is not like she was Jewish after all. (She finally left.)
Speaking of Jews, mobs of Middle Easterners in the streets of Europe are calling for the destruction of Israel, and at times the completion of the final solution -- 70 years after it played out in the streets of Europe. We are told Europeans are worried as these demonstrations become more virulent. But we are confused whether Europeans are worried that their guests are premodern -- or instead worried that the world senses their guests are saying things that they would like to say but cannot (yet).
Christians and Jews -- So What?
Christians are being exterminated and cleansed from Iraq and Syria. But we seem to think they are equivalent to bible-thumping Texas evangelicals and their killers exotic versions of Che, and so the ethnic cleansing is rarely condemned. If Barack Obama would just close his eyes and envision ISIS, Hamas, or Putin as the Tea Party or Fox News, and then react accordingly, the world would be a safer place.
Israel is trying to figure out an effective policy against Hamas. I say struggling, because Hamas is 7th century: using schools, mosques, and hospitals as missile storehouses, wiring up animals to be suicide bombers, stocking up handcuffs and syringes to capture Israeli soldiers for Aztec-like treatment, urging their civilians to become human shields.
In general, the liberal principle persists that when Arabs on the offense kill lots of Arabs it is normal, but when Jews in defense kill far fewer Arabs it is reprehensible. If Israel were weak, Hamas would do to it what ISIS is now doing to Christians, and the world would react to the rout and slaughter of the Jews with the indifference that it shows to Christians. Wait, it does that anyway.
Yet victory is not an anachronistic ideal; it persists across time and space as long as the human condition remains constant. If the IDF inflicts a great deal of punishment on Hamas, as it did to Hezbollah in 2006, then eventually those whose homes were repositories for missiles and tunnel openings and are now junk will blame (privately) Hamas as much as Israel. Even Hitler lost public opinion once he looked clueless amid the suffering he had caused all those who once cheered him on.
The reputation of Europe, such as it was, is shredded. It weighed Russian commerce and trade versus Russian barbarity, and so far profits have won hands-down. It trashed the interventionism of George W. Bush and now laments the isolationism of Barack Obama -- the only constant being whatever America does, it objects to it. What then does Europe want from the U.S.? Apparently a huge American military subject to the dictates of European “soft power,” as an occasional back-up force when European sermons are laughed at abroad (e.g., “If you do not listen to our exalted Athenian logic, then we will turn loose our brutal blood-loving Roman legions on you”). Unfortunately for the Europeans, they got the president they wanted, and now rue that wish. The EU is being exposed as a self-indulgent socialist mess, full of class tensions, increasing racism and anti-Semitism, angry unassimilated immigrants and minorities, and as a proverbial baying lamb with a wolf next door.
Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon is blasting Israel for retaliating against the barrage of Hamas rockets. He seems content that UN schools were hiding Hamas missiles. The UN has become a de facto ally of Hamas, and Ban Ki-moon’s rhetoric reflects that alliance. In terms of missiles, does he believe that his UN also prevents North Korea from gassing or firing on his homeland -- or is South Korean safety due to the presence of the Neanderthal forces of the U.S.? Could not Israel lecture Mr. Ki-moon to be more tolerant of the next over flight of North Korea missiles, to worry less about Pyongyang’s bomb, and to please ask the U.S. to leave South Korean soil?
The U.S. looks at the current global violence and then looks away, after a call for a “pivot” or a flash card calling for Boko Haram to give back the girls it has enslaved. Our generation’s version of the bad memories of the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive is Iraq and Afghanistan. Like our grandparents of the 1930s, we feel that the dead lost abroad in the most recent wars were not worth it -- and so ignore the gathering war clouds on the present horizon, as if ignoring them means they must disappear.
Glance about -- Central America, Venezuela, China, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Gaza, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Turkey, etc. -- and the world outside the West is mostly a nasty place. The three common denominators in all these catastrophes are the usual demagogic leaders blaming someone else for their people’s own self-inflicted miseries, a comfortable West that shrugs that somehow all these depressing things and mean people will just go away -- and a tired global enforcer whose community organizer leader went into retirement and offers "make no mistake about it" warnings between swings on the golf course.
(Artwork created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)