A European Union proposal to resettle tens of thousands of refugees from Syria and Eritrea across Europe met with strong resistance from some governments, raising doubt about its prospects.
At the same time, another EU plan for dealing with its refugee crisis—a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea to destroy the vessels that smuggling gangs use to transport migrants—came in for criticism from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Never mind that both of these approaches are counterproductive, although not in the way that “some government” or Ban seem to think.
Rewarding these refugees for fleeing, desperate though their plight might be, does exactly nothing to solve their problem—or the problem of their fellows and future refugees in northern Africa. Instead, it only allows the problem to grow worse, and it makes the growing flood an even greater humanitarian problem and an even greater problem for the nations of Europe.
Ban made manifest the general misunderstanding of national responsibilities in this regard.
I encourage EU member states to show compassion as they consider this important proposal to share their resettlement responsibilities. This can enable the European Union to address the dramatically increasing flows of people while setting an example for other regions of the world facing similar challenges[.]
No nation, including no European nation, has a “resettlement” responsibility here. No nation is obligated to allow people—or peoples—who are not citizens to cross its border and enter without permission. And no nation has any obligation to grant that permission—such an obligation would destroy the very concept of borders. Which in turn would destroy the very concept of private property and of ownership, whether private or national.
The effort, money, energy, and other resources committed to “resettlement” (reservations? The US has some experience with the failure of that sort of thing) or to sinking boats (which won’t stem the flow in the slightest; boats like the ones refugees or their African coyotes are using are easy to cobble together) would be better spent, would be more morally spent, working the problems in the refugees’ home countries so there would be far fewer refugees in the first place.
Of course political solutions are preferable, but even with its high up front cost (while potentially being far cheaper in the long run), an included option for working the problems at the source is military intervention. Just War Theory allows for humanitarian military intervention; all that’s necessary is for the intervening country(s) to do it like they mean it.
Besides that, there’s a utilitarian reason to intervene rather than merely to absorb refugees. The refugees are not looking for a place in which to better their lives; they’re looking for a place in which to stay alive. The countries from which the refugees are flooding will only become the more violent as time passes and peaceable people leave. And those countries will become increasing threats to the peace and safety of the European nations just across the Med.