Time for European countries to decide whether they come to table to solve the Syrian crisis or continue as before-with tiny, domestic conflicts
It was a very famous slogan in France on the eve of World War II "Mourir pour Danzig" means "would you like to get killed because of Danzig?" that was used by the pacifist camp and the extreme right to say that France had nothing to do with the expansionist attempts of the Third Reich. Both the United Kingdom and France were not ready for a long war and tried everything before the war to look non-belligerent. France had a huge army that was not well-organized with an obsolete commanding strategy. The one military expert to continuously advise for a re-organization of the French army, especially concerning armored battalions, was an eccentric colonel named Charles De Gaulle. Nobody listened to him. The one in Great Britain to continuously advocate for an accelerated effort for armament was Winston Churchill, he was seen as a warmonger and nobody listened to him.
European countries are by far the most developed and wealthiest countries in the world, and they have to play a major role in this "interregnum" period that characterizes the present situation of international relations. The United States, which remains the essential military and political force in the world, is trying to give more and a larger margin maneuvering to its allies around the world in order to decentralize the forces of the bloc of democratic countries. Up until now, this has not led to any tangible or positive results.
What EU countries are mainly afraid of is a huge wave of migrants at their door. As a matter of fact, EU countries would like to see themselves in the role of a huge Switzerland during World War II: A safe haven of neutrality, accepting only a very tiny fraction of refugees, but among the wealthiest.
This is not going to happen. EU countries cannot simply ignore the situation in the Middle East and try to stop the refugees in the first country where they find shelter. This is mainly Turkey, sometimes Lebanon and in some other cases Jordan. There are more than 3 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have crossed the Turkish border to save their lives and honor. Some 2.5 million of them remain in Turkey. These people have no chance to migrate to European countries, as they have no qualification, no money to pay to human traffickers and no illusions about a possible future in any European country. They are here to stay.
Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, there have been a number of terror attacks in Turkey, almost in every region, not least the heart of the country in the capital Ankara. From Reyhanlı to Istanbul, from Suruç to Ankara, hundreds of civilian lives have been lost over the last four years without counting the military and security forces members who have been killed.
Despite all these terrible developments, despite the very visible presence of Syrian refugees in every city of Turkey - there are 400,000 registered Syrian refugees in my hometown of Istanbul alone - there is no mobilization against the refugees, there are no manifestations asking them to go back. There are even no real attempts that advocate the closure of the 900-kilometer border with Syria.
The danger is not a horde of refugees washing over Greece and other EU countries. The danger is the fact that there is a steadily growing feeling in the EU, inflamed by an increasing number of politicians, that stopping the refugees is the only problem. It is turning into a kind of millennium fever among the EU public. If the refugees are stopped, if they are somehow forbidden to enter the EU, life will continue as before, made up of tiny, domestic conflicts, the numbers of economic growth and unemployment.
The challenge is huge, but there are countries that understand the situation and its consequences, such as Russia and Iran. I previously wrote about the fall of Aleppo and how it would be reminiscent of the fall of Madrid in 1939. Back then, there were countries that understood the opportunity they could get out of the Spanish Civil War, like Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. Now, should we revert to the old pacifist slogan and ask ourselves whether it is worth dying for Aleppo? Hopefully there are still perhaps a number of far-seeing politicians in the EU to correctly evaluate the danger of this situation.