Over 1 million refugees entered Europe in 2015 alone. Another 136,000 have arrived so far in 2016. This creates a huge financial burden as well as a cultural challenge for a Europe which is already weakened by huge debt and slow economic growth.
It will bolster those campaigning to take Britain out of the European Union in the upcoming June referendum. A British departure from the EU will dramatically weaken it and might encourage other countries to leave as well.
Islamic State terror plays into the hands of populist demagogues such as presidential candidate Donald Trump and right wing French leader Marine Le Pen.
To allow ISIS to have its own territory, and capital city Raqqa in Syria, is a very high risk strategy. It allows the Islamic State to spread its evil not only around the immediate area but all over the world.
The question raised most urgently by the Brussels attacks, so soon after Paris, is whether and why Raqqa can be tolerated when Al Qaeda’s Tora Bora sanctuary in Afghanistan was not. Today, the West’s ponderous wait-them-out approach looks like capitulation.
The fundamental question is whether or not the U.S. can refrain from immersing itself in the crises of the Middle East and still maintain its status as the world’s indispensable super power. “George Bush will be remembered harshly for what he did in the Middle East. Barack Obama is gambling that he will be judged well for the things he didn’t do.” The stakes are very high indeed for both the United States and our European allies.
This has been a bad year for the U.S. and the Western World. Peace, prosperity and progress have suffered major setbacks. Here are the three worst disasters of 2015:
The European refugee crisis. Chaos in the Middle East, especially in Syria, Iraq and Libya, has caused over a million refugees to flee their homelands and overrun Europe. This is not only a humanitarian crisis but also a severe strain on the resources of our friends and allies in the European Union, already weakened by huge debt resulting from the financial crisis.
The rise of Donald Trump. He appeals to the worst instincts of many Republican voters: nativist, protectionist and isolationist. Granted he has created more interest in the 2016 presidential campaign but at what cost to future economic and social progress? He is too crude, prejudiced and unprepared to possibly be elected president. His nomination by the Republican Party will lead to electoral disaster and therefore continued economic stagnation and an even faster increase in debt.
The collapse of fiscal common sense. The Republican Congress started out 2015 by adopting a ten year plan to achieve a balanced budget by 2025. But this plan fell by the wayside as a 2016 budget was hammered out, leading to an increase in the projected 2016 deficit alone of $158 billion. Such fiscal irresponsibility has created new interest in holding a Constitutional Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment. Of the 34 states needed to force Congress to call a Con-Con for a BBA, 27 states have already formally applied.
Always the optimist, I have ended on a hopeful note. The world depends on the U.S. for leadership and it isn’t too late for us to get back on track. But it won’t be easy!