For all the expressed surprise at the extent of the present migrant crisis, we are but reaping the harvest of a mis-spent foreign policy – actions (and in-actions) have consequences.
The lack of a post victory strategy in Iraq brought chaos and fostered the growth of IS. Troops were naively sent into Afghanistan, even though no foreign army had ever known success there and our departure has created a vacuum.
The trials and tribulations of the Horn of Africa, South Sudan and the Central African Republic have barely featured in our consciousness and the hundreds of thousands of refugees from these conflicts have been largely forgotten.
When Syria’s people appeared to be rising up against their leader we hoped for another Arab Spring and the chance to be rid of another dictator, failing to recognise that across the region the Arab Spring had in the main failed to bring any real or lasting change – chaos not freedom has too often followed in its wake.
The fall of the Syrian regime we hoped would be another snub to Russia when there might have been the chance of a joint strategy. Now, too late Russia and the USA are talking but why has it taken so long?
Last year boats of refugees were arriving in Italy but we failed to engaged and seemed to hope the problem would go away and no adequate response was planned. The pressure of those wanting to come to Britain was exported to Calais so it was largely out of sight and hopefully out of mind. But the problem has not gone away.
We are endlessly told of the importance of the European Community and European co-operation but the bloated bureaucracy of Brussels failed to forge deep bonds of friendship between nations and at the first sign of crisis it has been every nation for itself.
And the people whose lives have been caught up in these miscalculations and issues avoided, are not just knocking on our door but knocking the door down and, whether we like it or not, are coming in. They come not cap in hand but determined and seeing it as their right. We think we have a right to at least control their flow, if not stop it, but we lost that right when we showed too scant a regard for them as we sought to shape the world to our liking.
If the Christian values of Western democracies that our foreign policies sought to promote ever meant anything, now is the time to prove it by saying, with some humility,”Welcome; how can we help you?”