When the king of Poland, Jan Sobieski, defeated the Ottoman army at the Siege of Vienna in 1683, that army of 23,000 soldiers did not have scores or hundreds of thousands of hungry and desperate civilians at its back, hoping to find a new life in Europe.  The Ottomans were attempting a military invasion of the Continent, not a demographic one.  The present crisis in Europe is not the fulfillment of Hilaire Belloc’s prediction of a renewed assault by Islam against Europe, but of Jean Raspail’s scenario in The Camp of the Saints, published in 1973, in which a flotilla of rusty ships from Calcutta lands hordes of desperate invaders on the southern coast of France.

As in Raspail’s novel, liberal Europe is demanding that limitless numbers of invaders be welcomed, resettled across Europe, and given all the benefits the European welfare states have to offer.  Chancellor Merkel, perhaps in an effort to soften her image as the heartless martinet who dragooned the Greeks into line, is at the forefront of this effort.  No one denies that the chaos in the Middle East and Africa is a terrible thing, yet the moral dilemma defined by Raspail is the same as today’s: To deny the migrants entry is to destroy them; to grant them entry is to destroy us.

The American and the European media alike describe a crisis in which the European Commission and the various European capitals are so compromised by contradictory bureaucratic regulations and universalist principles that the only conceivable “option” is to alleviate the ultimate “suffering situation” for as long as it lasts, and at whatever cost to the host countries.  In truth, the European Union has been so successful at replacing political action with administrative diktat that its 28 members have indeed arrived at the point of political paralysis, reinforced by a system that has terribly weakened effective national government without creating a proper and effective (but finally impossible) federal system in its place.  One result is that the European national armies have been reduced in size and force to the point where they are virtually impotent to repel foreign invasion.  There is still NATO, of course, but can one imagine the members of that alliance driving tanks at, and bombing swarms of, Third World refugees?  (If the impossible were actually to happen, their next logical mission would be to turn westward and accomplish the same work along both sides of the Rio Grande.)

The far more likely eventuality is that the European peoples themselves, faced with the care and support of millions of migrants (already demonstrating aggressive inclinations at the train station in Budapest), will rebel against their governments in numbers that will return politics to the Continent as citizens take matters into their own hands, thus forcing the bureaucrats to declare a state of emergency and replace administrative process with direct action.  Considered in the context of history, the possibility is far from an unthinkable one, especially as Europeans confront the impossibility of one civilization rescuing another.