The massive influx of refugees from the wars, disorders, and economic malaise of the Middle East and North Africa was spurred on by Angela Merkel’s announcement in August that Germany would allow entry to some 800,000 Syrian migrants. Christopher Caldwell explains that the burden of Merkel’s decision will be borne not just by Germany but by its European neighbors:
There is not much willingness to acknowledge the civilizational complexity of the situation into which Germany has now dragged all of its Central European neighbors. Cant rules. . . . The former foreign minister Joschka Fischer has warned that Europe “must not sacrifice its basic values.” By this he means it must remain vigilant against ancient forms of intolerance. New forms of intolerance and complacency escape his gaze. . . .
None dare mention Islam. One young Syrian-Austrian religion professor told the daily Der Standard that five of her students had gone off to join Islamic State. “But Islam is not the problem,” she insists. Germanness is not mentioned, either. The Germans are often referred to in German-language accounts as die einheimische Bevölkerung—the native population. Nor do Austrians give the impression of having great resources of self-knowledge. . . .
There is something in this that reminds one of the financial crisis of 2008. Like a too-big-to-fail bank, Merkel has made a bet that will allow her to pocket the credit if she succeeds and spread the baleful consequences to others if she fails. It appears now that she is going to fail. Her defenders exult that she is showing a different face of Germany than the one the world knows from the last century of its history. It is premature to say so. Merkel is showing the face of a Germany that is acting unilaterally, claiming superior moral authority, and answering those who object by saying they’ll thank her for this someday. As such, she is dragging the whole European continent toward unrest. No German role is older.