European Chaos Requires Steady US Commitment, Leadership
The continuous flow of migrants and refugees across Europe’s borders may not make headlines, but it remains a crisis of proportions dangerous enough to threaten European stability. Nearly 7,000 Afghans, who were classified as economic migrants, rather than refugees, were caught along the border of Macedonia and Greece, and many more are finding European nations closing the doors that had been opened last summer.
The crisis has worsened over the months, while European leaders have fecklessly responded a day late to it. In a moment of candor, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for patience as she conceded her government “has no Plan B” to stem the flow of people across her border. She added that simply closing the borders was not a sufficient, nor an efficient, response.
A lack of US leadership in global affairs, however, is not helping to prevent the collapse of order in Europe – or the world.
Many European leaders despair at the absence of U.S. leadership as much as they decried US intervention, but the truth is American leadership is critical, says Washington Post columnist Fred Hiatt.
“In fact, there are no answers without patient, determined U.S. commitment, diplomatic and economic and military, through international institutions when possible and around them when necessary. Such efforts will succeed sometimes and fail sometimes, at which point the only option will be to regroup and try again. None of which makes for appetizing sound bites,” he writes.
Why Bad Ideas Survive
The last two decades have brought incredible and rapid change to the world. Technological advances have altered the economies of nations, leaving many who relied on manufacturing jobs in the dust. Political upheaval has occurred throughout the world and citizens feel they have been left behind by a global economy that has faltered. That frustration has left populations susceptible to the alluring charms of leaders who profess to have the answers to their concerns. Even if those ideas are bad, says Moises Naim in a recent column in The Atlantic.
Despite ample evidence that the doctrines promulgated by China’s Mao and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez will never lead to anything besides economic disaster and the limiting of human rights, those bad ideas continue to hold cache among those populations. The phenomena, which he calls “ideological necrophilia” is not limited to foreign nations. For example, the populism which is fueling the campaigns of Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump are no different.
“In a world in which a few keystrokes on a computer can lead to a wealth of information about the track record of a particular economic or political proposal, it’s surprising that ideological necrophilia is still so common. There are many reasons why bad ideas endure, but perhaps the most important is people’s need to believe in a leader when faced with the grave anxieties and uncertainties associated with rapid change—and the demagogue’s inclination in these fragile moments to promise anything, even the discarded notions of demagogues past, in order to obtain and retain power,” he concludes.