Connecting the dots on the European refugee crisis

Op-eds Opinions

The recent migrant — read “refugee” — crisis loominglarge over Europe seems to have reached its height in recent weeks. I write this because one of my family members has experienced firsthand the strife refugees are facing, whereby international trains have been blocked from leaving Budapest’s Keleti railway station. The pictures of deceased children washing up on sandy shores act as a visceral reminder and attach a human face to the crisis before us.

The dominant media narrative being foisted upon the public is brimming with emotional platitudes that mista-kenly frame the refugee crisis as some new phenomenon while ignoring its primary cause: the countless wars of choice, resulting in the displacement of  nearly 60 million people, according to the U.N. But what has led us to this moment?

Conflicts across the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe are displacing uncountable numbers of people.  Many of these refugees have been caught between the exploits of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (known as Daesh across the Middle East), and the antiquated military alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) . It is not just protracted loss of human life, but the breakdown of complex societies such as the one Syria maintained for centuries that are at stake since the violence began in 2011.  Outside a train station in Hungary, one Syrian teenager’s message was clear: “Just stop the war [in Syria]; we don’t want to stay in Europe.”

Ending foreign sponsorship of terror would be the true remedy to the situation, although this sentiment does not appear to be shared amongst policy-makers.  Regardless of what one thinks of the Syrian government, the reality on the ground is that Syria is facing a foreign-backed terrorist insurgency — which has been evident for quite some time to any rational observer.

In recent years, we have seen full-fledged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, and Palestine. These wars have been waging since 2001, and the subsequent outflow of refugees is a direct result. Understanding these events requires the realization that these have been wars of choice on NATO’s part. The refugees appearing across Europe did not simply pop up overnight.  These wars of choice have resulted in the targeted countries’ social and institutional fabric being utterly destroyed. Remember these factors when inundated with the myriad emotional pictures of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea in overcrowded and unseaworthy craft.

This crisis goes beyond ideology, and comes down to human decency and the need for adequate responses to these social and political upheavals.  There is a disconnect between imperial wars of choice and the subsequent outpouring of refugees choosing to flee terror rather than endure the intransigence of those responsible for their collective plight. The argument put forth here is simple : look past the emotional appeals in the media and focus on the real reasons why Europe is faced with an influx of refugees.