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Let’s imagine your country borders with a major conflict zone. As the conflict escalates, for instance over a period of four years, and turns into a full-fledged civil war, you are inevitably affected.

This happened to Portugal in the late 1930s during the Spanish Civil War, and to Sweden in the Second World War. It happens to any safe haven, even to the Canadian ambassador’s house in Tehran during the Iranian hostage crisis.

War brings death.

It also brings about an incredibly swift transformation in human beings. We return to all our primeval instincts of self-preservation. And also to ruthlessness, hatred, and its first cousin, cruelty.

Any crisis always strikes hardest at the poor, the disenfranchised—a military crisis always splits the community into two parts: those who can, leave. Those who can’t, stay. The proportions may vary depending on whether you are in a civil war, but the worst situation is when a nation becomes the focus for  a proxy war among other nations.

Such was the fate of Syria.

What began on March 15th 2011 as a manifestation of the Arab Spring has evolved into a major theater of war, largely a proxy war. Who are the players? The usual suspects of the Mid-East, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Russia. The United States.

And other factions, for instance Kurdish tribal interests, which have brought Turkey into the conflict. To understand Syria, we need to back up a little.

In an article entitled ‘Walk Like an Egyptian‘ which came out on January 30th 2011, I wrote:

With a soaring population, haring past the laboring tortoise of economic growth, and the facile appeal of radical Islam, this is not a regional issue, it will affect Europe in a very significant way.

Some of the dictators who tumbled like dominoes were supported by the United States: Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, classic cases of Roosevelt’s ‘our sonofabitch‘ syndrome. Others were pariahs, like Gaddafi, and got  trounced by everyone, or had more steadfast patrons.

Obama unfortunately moves in a world totally unsuited to the various sons of bitches that populate it, including the people in charge of Russia, the Mid-East, and vast tracts of the Far-East.

The U.S. president is too nice a man for the decisions he needs to make. Above all, to use the Mafia term, he is not a war president. Hillary Clinton will be no different—after all she didn’t resign her position as secretary of state because Obama was too dovish on her hawk-like policies.

But if a Republican gets into office, then the lay of the land (or is that the lie?) will change. This is why Putin knew it was time to anchor his forces to the Syrian conflict now, when Obama is hamstrung in Afghanistan, because there won’t be a Republican in the White House until 2017.

His best case scenario is there will be a Clinton in the White House, in which case it will be business as usual in the Kremlin.

The U.S. today relies on fracking and other sources for much of its oil, and although the Saudis are playing a money game with fossil fuel prices, it’s undeniable that the U.S. is far less active, or even preoccupied, with foreign policy.

Of course there is a military machine to oil, if you excuse the pun, and a massive arms industry that relies strongly on exports—wars are good for business.

But since we’re now in no man’s land between Canadian Thanksgiving and U.S. Thanksgiving, let’s reflect a little more on Turkey.

Turkey sits on the northern border of Putin’s new colony. I wonder which one he wants next? Lebanon, Jordan? I don’t think so—my bet is Northern Iraq.

The refugees from Syria, and from a decade of war in general, went south to Lebanon and Jordan, or North to Turkey. In Turkey’s case, there are well over one million Syrians, at the latest count.

Rather than contain them, Turkey has been letting them go, and the geography of the region makes it plain where they’re headed. North is the Black Sea, east the former Soviet republics.

Never has the saying ‘Go West, Young Man’ rung truer.

The most astonishing development is the notion that Turkey can dam this tidal wave by becoming a member of the European Union. I nail my colors to the mast on this one—I’m against the expansion of the EU to include Turkey.

Historically, the political line of Europe goes through the Balkans, which explains why that area, like an ocean front, is an region of great turbulence. Cyprus is perhaps the last enclave to the east that can claim to be Europe, and even there Turkey has made it plain that it will not relinquish one side of the island.

To add Turkey to Europe in exchange for containing refugees is one more stupidity in the chronology of obtuse politics of the past few years. The ‘strong man’ policy in the Near East and Mid-East, propped up by Western governments, has for many decades been the only way to prevent wars, to stop the descent of vast regions of the world into total chaos.

The direct consequence of that change in policy has been mayhem everywhere: tragedy in the nations where conflict exists, and for Europe, a tide of refugees.

But the word tide is ill-employed, for a tide is both neap and spring, and most importantly it is flood and ebb.

There is no compelling case for Turkey to become part of the Union, and certainly not for refugee containment—why containment within the EU would be better than outside it is beyond me.

Now everyone knows about Izmir and Kos, and the rubber boats. But this is not happening because someone suddenly bought a map—this is strictly political, a change of foreign policy by Turkey to open the flood valve to Germany. And the ‘reward’ for that is EU membership—by pressuring one of the key opponents of Turkish adhesion, and the most powerful country in the Union.

A cynical observer might be excused for thinking Germany and Austria’s open door policy paves the way for Turkish accession. A perplexed one might wonder why.

One thing is certain.

The refugees will keep coming. If not through Turkey, then back through Lampedusa. This tide will not ebb.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones and tablets.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones and tablets.

 

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