15A052 Syria by Jim Davies, 9/17/2015    


Only one thing matters, for the freedom-seeker; to take such action as will remove government from human society as fast as possible. That method is at hand.

While it's in operation, though, it would be pleasant if the world was as peaceful as it can be when still riddled with governments, and so one can usefully take some interest in what's happening; and currently I think Syria is rather interesting.

About half a dozen violent groups are squabbling to obtain the power to rule Syrians, two of which are ISIS and President Assad, whom KerryBama has targeted for régime change. All of them are dreadful; ISIS is clearly the worst but I dare say Assad is the least vicious.

He has friends. The governments of Russia, Iran and Iraq like him. Others, notably Israel and Turkey, though I forget why, do not. He has tried to stay clear of the Shia/Sunni divide and tolerates non-Muslim religions. And the latest rumor (here) is that Putin is about to intervene in his behalf, with a military base and boots on the ground, to help him wipe out ISIS and mop up the other rebels. That could be a game-changer.

Putin's motive is probably to counterbalance American influence in Ukraine, to secure the Russian warm water port in Tarsus, and to displace America in the Mid East. All those other friends of Assad would be glad if he succeeds; hence, Putin's influence and prestige would be well enhanced. That influence might well translate into control over oil supplies in Iran, Iraq and Syria, supplementing Russia's already substantial clout in the energy market. That isn't as important now that the US is almost energy-independent as it used to be, but even so it would be a big feather in Vladimir's cap.

Syria would be stabilized, ready to be rebuilt over the following decade. Some who fled the country as refugees would return, bringing relief to Jordan and Turkey. Only the Sunni population of those parts will be losers, and the degree to which that matters will be in the hands of those in charge; if they become as tolerant as Assad, Sunnis may simmer down.

Those refugees who do not return also make a very interesting case.

The nightly news tells dreadful stories of a long line of tens of thousands of refugees who left the violence in Syria and are making their way to central Europe in search of new lives; via Turkey, Greece, Hungary, etc. In so doing they are being obstructed by EU regulations.

Those rules say that if a refugee arrives in a member country, he shall be considered there and either accepted or sent home, and only then granted the normal EU right to travel and live in any other member country. The Hungarian government has tried to implement that rule as written. It has erected a shiny new razor-wire fence along its border to keep new floods out, and refused (until September 5th) to allow those already inside the country to move on to Austria. Result: chaos.

Let's savor that for a moment: rules produce chaos. Misery, hunger, thirst, death, anger.

Sure enough, the pressure was too great; the rules broke. The border was opened and the flood passed on and those at the head of the line reached Germany, whose government had announced that 800,000 of them were welcome! Presumably, the population there is getting older, and Merkel wants to see more younger people eager to work, join the country and support it. Why she didn't just tell her ambassador in Ankara to get busy issuing visas so that the migrants could simply board a plane to Berlin is not clear; but the point is that, while not everyone agrees, this stream of immigrants seems different.

No doubt many of them are Muslim (and so perhaps, as has been proven repeatedly, hard to assimilate in bulk) but not, it seems, fanatical. Look at the crowds. None of the men are wearing traditional Muslim garb. Some have beards, but very few are the orthodox, long and bushy type. Some of the women are wearing head scarves, but usually colored; I did not see a single black burka. Several of them could speak passable English with reporters. Several of those were clearly people with marketable skills - a pharmacist here, an IT engineer there. These refugees are an asset. They are unlikely to burden welfare systems - they want to work and rebuild their families' lives.

To the extent that they succeed, Europe will prosper from their help - and Syria, or what remains of it after this madness is over, will lose its prime asset: its most productive people. That's what happens, when governments go to war to gain or preserve their power. The "winner" may wind up the absolute ruler of a stretch of desert.

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