Four words. I listed them, only to realize they flow into one another—not as a cycle, but spiraling out.

The spiral of war.

The spiral of war. Poverty leads to conflict, and conflict often results in war. War generates refugees, who become the poor of another land.

That forced me to draw it, which threw me into the arcana of making a spiral in Powerpoint. The reason it’s a spiral is because you go up a level to your new status of poverty as a refugee in another country.

And your hope is that other nation will not itself fall prey to war, even if conflicts exist. However, it’s easy to daisy-chain nations where exactly that has happened: refugees from Iraq to Syria, from Syria to Germany are but one example.

Attached to those four words you can list the causes. Next to conflict, for instance, you might write race. Or tribe. Or religion, perhaps the most fracturing of all. And if refugees from another country integrate into a new society, they can escape the spiral, providing their new home doesn’t itself go that way.

The unfortunate fact is there isn’t a single country on the planet that hasn’t been at war, so it’s more a case of when than if.

You can bypass war and go straight from poverty or conflict to refuge, and you may then be perplexed when your children travel down that spiral in the opposite direction, and leave to fight against your adopted country—it’s happened in many North European countries recently.

The refugee crisis in Europe has prompted a wide range of reactions, from radical xenophobia to enthusiastic welcome. I don’t have a solution, but I expect there will be various approaches that work within that broad range.

Of course the correct solution would be to substitute the words war and refuge in the spiral by peace and wealth, and nations could then develop in such a way that their citizens would feel no urge to leave.

It’s easier to list problems than solutions, and equally easy to provide glib solutions—the essence of people like Trump. Europeans are stunned by everything they hear from him, and perhaps more stunned at the American People.

The vast majority of people in the U.S. are descended from Europeans—the Latino immigrants, with their profound Catholic faith, and habits and traditions familiar to anyone who’s visited Spain, can be counted in that group. Both sides of the pond are aware of each others’ idiosyncrasies, but what binds the two sides is much greater than what separates them.

So the majority of Europeans struggle with the notion that Obama could just be the filling in a sandwich of very thick bread. Perhaps deep down the U.S. knows something that Europe doesn’t—perhaps they know this is all a dog and pony show, and in the end Trump will deliver a bestseller or a reality show, and the White House will be occupied by someone sensible.

If so, they’re keeping the joke up a little too long for my taste.

Build walls, ban Muslims, insult women, abuse race. Only relatively amusing.

The Muslim ban is insane, but the widespread welcome approach that won Merkel the person of the year award in 2015 is also pretty nuts. A huge culture chasm is revealing itself in Europe with the inflow of people from the Mid-East, most recently evidenced by events in Cologne and Stockholm.

In both cases, the societal gap in women’s rights between Islamic countries and Europe is at the root of the problem. You can’t really understand it by watching YouTube (though it helps), but anyone who has visited Arab nations, Iran, or Pakistan is fully aware of this.

And these issues are not just linked to Islam—as evidenced by recent events in India.

The point is that refugees bring with them despair, hunger, and strife, but they also bring their cultural values—and these do not include the notion that a young woman in a short skirt can celebrate New Year publicly without a male companion.

Over the last century, wars all over the world have often been instigated by Western interests—the consumer society in Europe and America is implacable, a beast that’s never satiated.

The upheavals in the Mid-East will not be solved by Western bombing campaigns, nor by Muslim bans.

The refugee spiral will continue, with more or less strife at the points of entry.

The assimilation of new concepts by an established society takes a generation.

The integration of the current wave of refugees will take at least that.

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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