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Average Americans, separated from the land mass of Eurasia, have been oblivious to the migration crisis occurring in Europe until recently when the news media started reporting the thousands of Syrian refugees being stopped at Hungarian border. (Certainly, we were aware that something problematic was happening in Europe whenever we hear about the “homegrown” terrorists lethal activities in Europe or read about the rise of rightwing political parties in some European states. Besides, we certainly know about the illegal migration problem in US without hearing the controversial remarks by a presidential candidate Donald Trump. But, the scale seems different in Europe.) So I was happy to read the enlightening article written by Walter Russell Mead, “A Crisis of Two Civilizations,” which was carried in the Review section of Sept. 12th issue of WSJ. Not only did Prof. Mead clarify the current migration crisis in Europe but also its long historical context. According to him, such migration crises have happened periodically in long history, but this particular migration crisis carries more danger. He writes: “What we are witnessing today is a crisis of two civilizations: The Middle East and Europe are both facing deep cultural and political problems that they cannot solve. The intersection of their failures and shortcomings has made this crisis much more destructive and dangerous than it needed to be – and carries with it the risk of more instability and more war in a widening spiral.” In the Middle East “we are witnessing the consequences of a civilization’s failure either to overcome or to accommodate the forces of modernity.” Meanwhile, “Europe today often doesn’t seem to know where it is going, what Western civilization is for, or even whether or how it can or should be defended…Military strength, without which the liberal states would be overwhelmed, is regarded with suspicion in the U.S. and with abhorrence in much of Europe. Too many people in the West interpret pluralism and tolerance in ways that forbid or unrealistically constrain the active defense of these values against illiberal states like Russia or illiberal movements like radical Islam.” In the penultimate paragraph, he concludes: “It is impossible to have a humane and sustainable asylum policy without an active and engaged foreign policy that from time to time involves military action. The West’s current stance on human rights and asylum is reminiscent of the liberal approach to questions of peace and war in the early 1930s. On the one hand, the West adopted a high-minded, legalistic stand that declared war illegal (the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928); on the other, we adhered to a blind commitment to disarmament. A noble ideal was separated from any serious effort to create the conditions that would make it achievable.”

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