The world's politicians are managing the migration crisis with all the ineptitude they can muster, which, as we know is plenty. The Roman Empire was no paradise, but its end was largely brought about by people wanting what the Romans' had. It led to what we euphemistically call the Dark Ages.
Britain long ago chose, in the wake of empire, to become a multicultural society. Some see that as a wonderful and enriching thing, others complain it's destroying our own culture and traditions. I tend to the former view, but things aren't quite that simple there's an element of truth in both positions, life is rarely black and white.
Even if one embraces multiculturalism, has not an ounce of racism, religious bigotry or prejudice about anything, unlimited migration does create problems and people trafficking is a dangerous and evil abuse. Now, we can all sit back and let our talented politicians deal with it, or speak up for a better world.
Britain's answer is to threaten to leave the European community unless we get control of our borders back, whilst sending ships to Libyan waters to pick up illegal immigrants and dump them on Italy. Of course we're not the only ones doing it. We chose to become multicultural, it doesn't mean we have the right to insist others do so too, it's their decision, that is the democracy we're all so keen on.
Italy has a rich culture and they're rightly proud of it, dumping all these people on their doorstep isn't right. Nor is their economy in better shape to deal with it. If you're going to rescue thousands of people you need to have a policy as to what you're going to do with them afterwards. (Just as if you go to war, you need a plan for the peace, the successors of Bush and Blair please take note). By the way I'm all in favour of saving lives at sea. I'm not quite so happy about people deliberately taking stupid risks, especially when the message sent out is 'put yourself at risk and we will not only rescue you, but will help you complete your illegal journey (at least as far as Italy, you can make your way to England or Germany on your own)'.
We are of course encouraging the people traffickers and depleting countries who need fit, strong and in many cases educated people to help build their own countries. Naturally, once again it's not black and white, some are economic migrants, some are fleeing genuine persecution. Some will look for work and to make a contribution to society, others, possibly in desperation, will turn to crime to support themselves. Even violent crime, I've experienced it at first hand in Athens.
So the questions are: Do we rescue migrants who've put themselves at risk in overcrowded un-seaworthy boats? Do we use special forces to take out people traffickers and their boats and resources? Do we return people whence they came? If we don't return them, then where do we put them and is it a sustainable answer? If there's not a sustainable solution to the previous question, how do we help people build a life for themselves in the countries they're currently leaving?
If you can answer all these questions in a common sense way, with a degree of humanity and in a way which will make the world a better place, perhaps you should be running for office, in your own country, or in the European parliament.
It's not just about culture, bigotry, prejudice. It's also about overcrowding and the pressure on health services, transport, housing, the environment and it's about people having worthwhile lives in their own countries, not splitting up families, not making the countries they've left into barren wastelands whilst Europe becomes ever more pressured and crowded. It's not about pushing the problem onto Italy, Spain or anywhere else.
I'm not sufficiently arrogant to think I have all the answers, but since I don't like what I see and have taken the trouble to speak out and write about it I feel I should at least suggest answers to the questions above for consideration.
Of course we should save lives at sea. Should we destroy the people trafficking industry? It may not be easy, but I believe we should use all the resources we have available to fight any evil. Whether or not to return people whence they came is a hugely contentious question, but it needs to be faced up to, without the assumption that to say yes brands someone racist or a bigot. The problems of unrestrained mass migration are real. Rescue and welcome people and more will come, obviously. So yes, sadly I believe we must send people back, but we have to try and help them in their own countries too, whether that is through aid, diplomacy, peace keeping, or more likely a mixture of all three.
Many people are fleeing war, or smaller internal civil and tribal conflicts, we simply have to end war, before war ends us. It's not sustainable to keep taking people in ad infinitum so that the numbers looking to enter increase exponentially year on year. So, like it or not, we have to face up to the problems in Africa and the Middle East, we need more creative solutions from the people who've put themselves forward to govern, we need peace, not to just send ships from all over to fish people out of the sea and dump them on Italy.