So it's war. Europe united, we're all off to defeat ISIS for good, led by Russia who are now sort of at war with Turkey, for reasons ranging from Turkey's complicated and layered approach to Syrian border politics, to it's a pretty fantastic opportunity for Russia to move in a massive amount of military equipment into Syria on the grounds of 'self defence'.
Ship's hit the fan
Distractions, distractions. We're fighting the good fight here, so let's just let that one fly for now. Here's the thing though, amidst various countries' pledges to bomb ISIS targets in Syria, patriotic Facebook posts about unity and action and even whispers of "Thank God the Russians are here" (a phrase normally reserved for waitresses of VIP tables in Mayfair clubs...) there is one question that remains unanswered and in fact as time goes on, increasingly un-asked: what exactly are we going to do with all these refugees?
Whether you're a strong supporter of mass immigration or avidly against it doesn't actually matter. The traditional immigration line of "Get a job or go home" is redundant now that we're in the process of bombing their homes. There's four million Syrians spread across Europe and Asia. two million alone are in Turkey. One million are expected to arrive in Germany this year.
The long walk (away from) home
This writer is absolutely pro-asylum. He's also of the opinion that military action against ISIS is needed, because proxy wars and supplying arms simply hasn't worked. He simply wants the answer to one question:
Why is Europe bombing Syria, before it has a plan in place to deal with re-settling existing and future refugees?
As it emerges, if handled correctly, the emergence of a predominantly younger workforce could prove an advantage. Large swathes of Europe have ageing populations. Care workers and assistants are needed. Earlier this year, the UK reported a major shortage of construction workers. As much as a quarter of the refugees have university education. For those that don't, apprenticeships and online courses should be set up to help countries make use of the new arrivals to bolster gaps in their current industries. Failed integration is caused largely by foreign community groups in countries becoming insular and introspective. Proactive resettlement and integration plans should be made to ensure this does not happen.
English courses should be set up. On the flipside, so too should Arabic courses, taught by Syrians, backed and run by local universities (because let's be honest, they can afford it ). The more we understand that world, the more chance we'll have of combating some of the most pressing world problems of today.
Because when it comes to how we got here, how we got to a world of fear and distrust and civilian bombings and government espionage and mass refugee movements the answer seems simple enough: Terrorism. But, what causes terrorism? Religous extremism? Perhaps. But no-one's born with that kind of crazed devotion.
Refugee sporting an 'I love mum' tattoo he got shortly before fleeing home
Terrorism starts with large groups of unemployed, disenfranchised, lost young men, with no central focus or guidance in their life. Often marginalised by the society they live in. So they seek solace where they can find it, and unfortunately in recent years that's led a number of them to a group of savvy social media anarchists with big flags and rhetoric that involves 'Proving to the world that rejects you that you're better than them, you're one of us, an elite warrior of god'. it all snowballs rather quickly after that.
So what if we had an alternative? What if we had a system in place that took disenfranchised, unemployed young men and women and educated them, gave them something to train for, something to qualify for, some means of earning a living? Of seeing the world not through one narrow perspective but broadly enough to have context, and to have some measure of control over their destiny? Do you really think a young adult, well educated, with a bit of income, a job, friends from a variety of backgrounds and the possibility of a flat and even a date on the weekend would be remotely interested in strapping on a bomb? Or in serious religous devotion at all?
Military action against ISIS in Syria is surely a necessity. But the real achievement will be the rollout of a plan to turn refugees into employed, integrated European citizens. Doing so could end many countries future economic woes. The infrastructure needed to create a transition could create employment for currently unemployed nationals. Better, do this right, and do it properly, and terrorism simply won't be able to take root anymore. If Europe's going to fight for anything, surely fight for this.