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Intractability

What a shambles the world seems this morning.

The Greek financial crisis rumbles on, the markets reacting with panic.  Three terrorist attacks, all inevitably claimed by ISIL, leaving scores of civilians dead and injured in three disparate countries (Tunisia, Kuwait andFrance).  Hundreds of thousands of migrants continue to brave the Mediterranean in flimsy boats, financed by mobsters, to reach Europe, which doesn’t want them but also hasn’t a clue how to keep them out or deal with them once they land (usually after being rescued).

Think of these problems and the word ‘intractable’ inevitably keeps popping into the head.

The European Union, its central bank and the International Monetary Fund – the so-called troika – apparently have no more idea how to deal withGreece than you or I.  The Greek government matches this confusion in its abject failure to deal with the underlying and deep-rooted problems of its own economy.  To quote the song-writer, an irresistible force seems here to be confronting an immovable object.  Which way round they are depends on where your sympathies lie.  (Mine, by and large, are with the troika, but I rather tend to swing pathetically from one camp to the other.)

ISIL must be dealt with firmly, cry the politicians of the West, but no specific plan of action emerges.  Meanwhile, the public, at least as represented in Britain and America, seems to be clamouring for ‘boots on the ground’ solutions, apparently overlooking the fact that military interference greatly contributed to, if not caused, the Middle East upheavals in the first place – not to mention forgetting that Tony Blair of late has been (rightly) excoriated for supporting the Iraq invasion, and other physical interventions in the region.

The European nations, debating appeals by Greece and Italy, to help stem the flow of seaborne immigrants, dallies and dithers.  Blame the politicians if you will for not coming up with a rational plan, but the people who elected them have no better idea what to do.

In short, we are all equally bemused, governments, paid experts and voters alike.

Intractable is not a word that sits easily with politicians, but it is one thing when ‘We the People’ think we know the answers and they don’t, and quite another when, in truth, neither constituency knows.

For my part, I’ll venture the following:

I’m in favour of Britain staying in Europe but believe the euro to be an impediment to sensible integration and not an essential component. Greece should leave the Eurozone and sort itself out according to its own will.  Currency devaluation would be a good place to start.

We (the West) should, physically, stay out of the Middle East.  We’ve done enough damage there already, some of it inflicted in an earlier century.  That doesn’t mean doing whatever it takes to combat ISIL and other gangsters with an insane mission.  We might start by uniting in our objections to supporting Saudi Arabia, especially through the sales of advanced weapons systems, until the ruling monarchy in that nasty feudal anachronism cesspit learns how to behave.

As for the immigrants, poor wretched souls, sadly we must keep them out, or send them home.  As illiberal and inhumane (and UKIP-like) as that sounds, it seems to me, like Churchill’s appraisal of democracy, the least bad alternative to all the others.  Letting in the first 10,000 will only lead to the next wave, and then the next, ad infinitum – an irresistible flow.

Meanwhile, even as we harass ISIL and the Taleban and others as best we can, we should pump aid into Tunisia and any other state making a genuine effort to establish any form of democratic system.

Hardly a revolutionary plan, I agree, and probably flawed in ethical as well as practical terms.

But who has a better set of ideas right now?

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