The Blog

Exodus 2015: The World Wakens to a Wall

What is happening geo-politically in our world that stirs this human disaster that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán seeks to withstand on his Serbian border?
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

This post was co-authored by Joseph Juhasz.

As the larger than Biblical flow of migrants heads north from the Balkans, Hungary's government seeks to reverse, or at least redirect, its course. On the border with Serbia, prime minister Viktor Orbán has decreed a wall, deployed troops, constructed holding pens, and now plans a set of makeshift courtrooms--all designed to repel the over 3000 daily entrants to his country from the South.

So far the flow of migrants has not been stopped; they have only been harassed, delayed, and subjected to the brutal pangs of extreme homelessness. Day after day, they enter Hungary in search of Budapest, the venerable gateway to the North and West that has served as a principal stop for ages on the Silk Road, the Orient Express, and the River Danube.

But Orbán is a determined man, fortified both by the support of his people and his confidence that he can always outpoint his fellow leaders in the European Union. He stands at the gates of Schengenland as the defender of Western Christian Europe from the Muslim hordes, doubtless convinced that he will win the support of silent majorities all over that continent. He may well succeed in building the perfect wall, deflecting the river of migrants to forsaken Serbian airstrips or its one Adriatic port. From there, the Exodus might continue on a scale yet unknown in history, by massive transfers by plane and ship, should the nations of the world begin to address their next big problem: how to redistribute the millions desperate to leave Syria and many other war-zones and poverty-pits of the Middle East and Africa.

What is happening geo-politically in our world that stirs this human disaster that Orbán seeks to withstand on his Serbian border? We start a list:

--The United States, having failed to prevail in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, has now added Syria to its growing list of military disasters -- however profitable has been the manufacture of weapons and continuing access to Middle Eastern oil associated with these adventures.
--China (The People's Republic) has emerged as no less than the second economic power, now building the Silk Road literally in iron, a rail link between itself and Europe.
--Russia remains the 2nd Military Power, its permanent fleet now in the Mediterranean and Sebastopol defended from NATO control. Putinism is alive and well, and now helps prop the Assad regime in Syria.
--The Germans succeeded in vetoing war with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
--Aided and abetted possibly but certainly precipitated by the USA, a flood of refugees is now in Exodus from the Middle East through Constantinople and up the route of the Orient Express.
--The USA and the rest of the World save Israel has re-oriented its Iran Policy, and in the U.S., AIPAC, now revealed as a right-Republican lobby in decline, has suffered its first significant defeat since its founding in 1951.
--Pope Francis is speaking forcefully on a number of vital global issues, including the need to address the migration crisis in a humane and effective manner.
--And, in Hungary, Viktor Orbán has placed himself as a roadblock not to the Chinese, nor to the Russians, nor for that matter to the Germans, but most certainly to the Americans on a variety of issues, and most notably that of migration.

Hungary's stance forces us to note that Serbia is not a cul-de-sac with only an exit through Hungary. Hungary has 1/30 of the population of the USA and 1/100 of its land area. Is Hungary supposed to absorb or provide a migration route for this exodus? Viktor Orbán says "No". This is about commerce, it is about geopolitics, and it is about the current world order. It is also about Hungarian history and the Hungarian constitution, now firmly under Orban's control. It would appear that Orbán is the willing Hungarian Patient, a second fiddler-on-the-roof (perhaps continuing to serenade Putin?).

What should be done?

Well, to begin with, more or less under any rubric of "should," the USA should take its share of the refugees and not become, once again, the laughing stock of the rest of the world--its big Trumpian talker and feeble solver of probems. And while it is at it, the USA might join with the Pope, the UN, and the EU in developing plans for moving many millions of refugees to their new countries in the days, months, and years ahead.

And the USA might stop bankrupting itself while casting itself in the image of itself when it was victorious in the Pacific and the main beneficiary the Soviet victory in Europe. Those days are gone. We hope and believe we now live in the age of The Iran Deal, where dialogue replaces destruction. And, just one more, how about a realistic Eurasian policy for the USA?

Back now to the Hungarian Crisis: In truth Viktor is not Victoria--he is not merely a product of history; he is making history in his own often disagreeable ways. The USA would be well off to tailor its policy toward Hungary based on current realities rather than retracing its past misadventures with Iran (And Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Syria. And so on...). The USA will not (and should not) respond to the migrant crisis by seeking to produce regime change in Hungary--that's a task for Hungarians to address in their own streets, and in forthcoming elections. It would be better to live with than try to destabilize or remove the Orbán regime--distasteful as those folks are to those who continue to think that a modicum of social justice should emerge as a product of periodic elections.

We conclude by noting the cunning of reason involved in Orban's observation that there are limits to European responsibilities for the migrants. We must surely begin to recognize the urgent need for the global community to design and implement the massive redistribution of populations required by the painful realities of Exodus 2015.

CO-AUTHOR Joseph B. Juhász is Professor Emeritus of Architecture and Environmental Design at the University of Colorado. He is the author of well over 200 professional publications, has won numerous architectural competitions, has exhibited his photography, directs, produces and conducts radio programs, and has been president and officer of numerous divisions of the American Psychological Association. He was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1938, is a holocaust survivor, and emigrated to the USA in 1951. He graduated Brown University in 1961, served for four years in the US Navy and went on to get a Ph.D. from Cal Berkeley in 1968. He is the father of five daughters and is also a grandfather.