WASHINGTON – A vast crumbling can be heard across Europe, coupled with an ennui that is the ironic upshot of being stunned by too many disparate crises. The Mediterranean, it turns out, is not the southern border of Europe: Rather, that border lies somewhere in the Sahara Desert from where African migrants coalesce into caravans headed north. And as they have throughout history, the Balkans still form a zone of human migration from the Near East.
For decades, the dream of the European Union was to become a post-national paradise of prosperity and the rule of law, and gradually, through various association agreements, extend the bounties of civil society to contiguous regions. Now the process is being reversed: The contiguous regions are exporting their instability into Europe itself. Eurasia, a supercontinent of historic exoduses, is starting to reintegrate Europe.
This tumultuous process occurs as the social welfare state — the moral answer of European elites to the carnage of the 20th century — has become nearly impossible to sustain at its current level in some countries. The prolonged multi-year stagnation, exacerbated by bad monetary policy, has begot populist movements that will turn against the latest wave of refugees once the initial bout of public compassion runs its course.