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The New Normal
Humanitarian Catastrophes and Global Disorder

We seem to be in an era of relearning lessons of the 1930s, as the post-Cold War order shudders under a combination of attacks from its enemies and paralysis among its friends. For example: we are learning that the world’s ability to respond to refugee crises in a humane fashion is largely dependent on policies that promote global stability, thereby limiting refugee flows in the first place. The plight of the Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, for example, has been all over the news last week:

A wooden fishing boat carrying hundreds of desperate migrants from Myanmar moved farther out to sea on Friday after the Thai authorities concluded that the passengers wanted to continue their journey, instead of disembarking in Thailand, according to an aid group involved in negotiations over the vessel’s future.

But a Thai reporter who witnessed the boat’s departure said that some of those aboard did not appear to want to leave.

The vessel, which passengers said had been turned away from Malaysia, is part of a rickety flotilla from Myanmar and Bangladesh carrying thousands of migrants, many of them Rohingya Muslims, fleeing persecution or economic hardship, with no country willing to take them in.

Should the world situation continue to deteriorate, we will see a deadly and discouraging mix: on the one hand, growing humanitarian problems that become larger and more urgent; on the other, diminishing will and capacity to do anything about them. Today’s plight of the Rohingya, the Syrians and the Libyans point toward the kind of change and turmoil that is bound to accompany any serious decline of American power and will to support a world order.

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  • f1b0nacc1

    Wait, let me get this right…the Thais (who are busy dealing with a Moslem insurgency in their own south) didn’t want to accept a boatload of Moslems fleeing oppression? I am shocked!
    While there are obviously many exceptions that one can point to, I suspect that given the behavior of Moslems in their interactions with non-Moslems across the globe, it isn’t difficult to understand why any rational state would be extremely reluctant to welcome even the most justified group of refugees. Islam has earned itself a very bad reputation, and this is only the beginning…

    • Dan Greene

      Well, the Malaysians didn’t want them either, and Malaysia is majority Muslim. The issue is not that they are Muslim. It’s that no one wants to encourage a large refugee influx. Australia has been the same way with East Timor and they are Christian in the main. Many of the refugees moving through Libya towards Europe are non-Muslims, but for the Europeans, they are just part of a huge mass of needy third-worlders who represent a large and unwelcome commitment of resources. That’s the issue across the board.

      • f1b0nacc1

        My comment was about the Thais, not the Malaysians (who likely do in fact dislike the idea of a large refugee influx, and want to discourage these particular refugees), so lets not change the subject. In the same sense, while you are no doubt correct that there are MANY non-Muslims in the mass movement crossing the Med, I should also point out that MOST of them are Muslims, and that many of the complaints about them are that they (muslims) will not assimilate and are extremely difficult to cope with once they settle in. If you take a look at the recent anti-immigrant rhetoric in the UK, in France and in Sweden (in SWEDEN!) you see this sort of issue crop up constantly.
        Look, there is no question at all that there are general issues with refugees, and this really isn’t anything new. This latest issue however, is strongly focused on Muslims as a plague on any society foolish enough to welcome them without a strong emphasis on assimilation, forced or otherwise.

        • Dan Greene

          I agree that Europe made a serious miscalculation when the diversity-fetishist left and short-term-profit-maximizing corporate right united to bring in large numbers of Muslims (and others) to Europe from the 1950s on. You are undoubtedly right that their being Muslim makes them incrementally more unappealing, although if the Med refugees were mostly non-Muslim, Europe would still not want them. It’s not clear to me how much of an increment this really is, but it doesn’t really make a great deal of difference in the end, I suppose.

          But of course, no one forced the Europeans to let in all those immigrants, just as no one forced the Europeans to establish colonial dominion over most of the Muslim world in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nor did anyone force the British to establish oil statelets (albeit not initially as such) that have had the effect of diverting revenues from the one competitive resource/product in the Arab Muslim heartland into western banks thereby robbing the region of a good deal of potential development capital. Nor did anyone force the West to sponsor the establishment of a Jewish state in the midst of an unwilling people.

          It’s quite interesting to review all the key decisions that have created the current state of affairs with the Muslim presence in Europe and the antagonism between Islamic elements and the West and see that all those decisions were Western decisions.

          And to makes things even spicier, many of the leftists who demanded high levels of immigration to Europe in order to dilute its “inherently fascist” nature have now moved into the neoconservative camp and are now decrying the consequences of policies they once championed. I’d like to see that subject covered in depth with names named and the whole sorry litany laid out in detail.

          • f1b0nacc1

            In many ways, we are in agreement here. I don’t have any real doubt that the EUnicks would be unhappy with the immigration that they are dealing with right now irrespective of its ethnic character, but it’s moslem character certainly makes a bad situation worse. Likewise, I completely agree with you that the Left (trying to import a new population as they were losing their grip on the old one), and the Right (trying to find cheap labor to replace the expensive batch they were stuck with) have much to answer for in terms of their current troubles. With all of that said, my sympathies for the moslems (insular barbarians to a man) is incredibly limited.
            Regarding the West’s responsibility for the current state of the middle east, we largely disagree. The colonization of the Middle East by the West is largely responsible for what little development and investment that the area has received since the great tide of Islam crested and began to recede, and this hardly requires much in the way of apologies. Did Middle East elites shamelessly exploit their peoples, in large part acting in concert with Western interests? Of course they did, such is the way of elites in underdeveloped states from time immemorial. Without the West (let us pretend that oil was never discovered, for purposes of this counterfactual), the Middle East would be much as it were, with the sole exception that its bad behavior would be far more harshly punished, and no fool would try to treat them as anything other than what they are….barbarian tribes who have no place at the table of civilized states. Regarding the State of Israel, one can debate whether or not the formation of the state was a good idea, but given the small size and almost negligible resource endowment of that state (one of my favorite jokes is that it took Moses 40 years wandering in the wilderness to find the only place in the Middle East with no oil), the pointless whining by the various Islamic tribes seems to be special pleading with a vengeance.

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