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The migrant crisis and the great moral failure in the US and the UK




"indeed. with their political correctness and WW2 guilt,
the germans (especially merkel) have screwed up europe for the 3rd time in 100 years."
Kiddl22 on reddit

"35000 in 3 weeks in winter. We can't Brexit fast enough if you ask me."
RenaissanceManc in the Guardian's comments section



Following the Anglo-American discourse on the European migrant crisis can be really depressing these days. The amount of hostility, schadenfreude, spite, I-told-you-so-cynicism directed at Germany and her few allies is staggering; just browse social media like Twitter and Facebook, the discussion sections of various newspapers, or online forums like Reddit (both comments above were among the most popular ones in their respective discussions). What did Germany in particular do to attract so much negative commentary? – They are trying to give shelter to refugees, no matter the number. And rightly so, because many of those refugees have lived in fear and uncertainty for years.

For the time being, let's not bother with "details" like the Geneva Conventions and human rights, how it is irrelevant whether 10 000 or 1 000 000 people are seeking refuge from war; let's not bother with the greater European perspective, i.e. if Germany was to close her borders, the Balkan and Greece would probably collapse.
Instead, let us turn our focus to the hypocrisy of many of those who criticise Germany, particularly those from the US and the UK. These critics often disregard highly relevant facts. To understand why, here's a quick number crunch (with a focus on statistics from Germany).


Some number crunching – refugees arriving in Germany

Consider where the refugees arriving in Germany come from. These are the top ten categories with respect to the refugees' countries of origin:


Countries of origin of those seeking asylum in Germany in 2015. (Source: BAMF)*
(*N.B.: The total number of refugees provided by the BAMF is comparatively small, because many of those who have already arrived are not registered yet. It is estimated that about 1m refugees have arrived in Germany in 2015).


Numbers from 2014 show that those coming from Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia have virtually no chance to get accepted as refugees (similarly, those who are currently coming from Morocco and Algeria). So, let's chuck them out and focus on the top three countries of origin for those who have a viable chance of staying.


Top three countries of origin of those seeking asylum in Germany in 2015 with a viable chance of getting accepted. (Source: BAMF)

Anyone fleeing from those three countries has very strong reasons to leave their home country: civil war (Syria), ISIS (Iraq), and the Taliban (Afghanistan). Those people deserve help, particularly by us in the West. We live in safe and prosperous countries; we did nothing to have been born here, no-one of us "deserved" to be here. To not help as a society equates to moral failure.


Historical ignorance and moral bankruptcy

But to spite or ridicule those who try to help is a sign of moral failure, too. This applies especially to critics from the US and the UK. Look at the top three countries again. The civil war in Syria is in parts fought with Western weapons and also a product of failed diplomacy of the West (in particular of the US and the UK). The rise of ISIS in Iraq is a consequence of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (which Germany opposed) and the subsequent withdrawal, similarly the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The point is this: Because of their actions, the US and the UK are to a good extent responsible for the European migrant crisis. Hence, these two countries have a moral obligation to deal with the consequences.
However, instead of taking responsibility, the US and the UK only act symbolically (the US has pledged to take 10 000 Syrian refugees in 2016 and the UK 4000 Syrians per year until 2020). Moreover, the Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, has done the very opposite when he dehumanised refugees as a "bunch of migrants" and a "swarm of people". Yet, countries like Germany, which have comparably little to do with the situation in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, are picking up the pieces.*
(*Certainly, Germany has some responsibility, for various reasons. Further, it is also true that other countries like Turkey or the Lebanon shelter a lot more refugees that Germany does. However, many refugees in Germany are presumably there to stay and thus need to be integrated into society, while most refugees in e.g. the Lebanon wish to return as soon as the war is over.)

With all this in mind, the question arises: What does it actually take for many US and UK policy makers, but also for those posting spiteful comments on social media  to realise their own moral bankruptcy?



tsj; originally posted on 29 Jan 2016
last modified: 30 Jan 2016