What does not kill you will make you stronger. That’s the conventional wisdom. Time will tell if this holds true in a Europe that is suffering a financial and banking crisis. Right now nobody can tell if Europe will emerge stronger after the crisis and its contagion have blown over. Or if the crisis will let up at all before the continent is crushed by the weight of its troubles.
But there was a time when Europe came to grips with a protracted crisis, addressed it with wisdom, and came out stronger. Because Europe was the frontline of the Cold War from the mid-1940s to the late-1980s, it was there that the fate of humankind would be decided: whether it would survive and flourish or it would go up in nuclear smoke as the US-led West and the Soviet-led East plunge into MAD — mutually assured destruction.
When a government sacrifices political development on the altar of economic prosperity, heaven may respond by sending down a national tragedy.
Indonesia suffered that kind of tragedy in 1998. We called it krismon, meaning krisis moneter (monetary crisis). It was also an economic crash and a political upheaval that culminated in the fall of longtime strongman President Suharto.
A sadist named Bashar al-Assad rules Syria today with a bloody iron hand. The estimate is that he and his cohorts have killed more than 11,000 of their compatriots in the past 14 months. The actual toll may be closer to 14,000.
Syrians in their millions keep demanding that he step down. He just keeps on killing them. Just over a week ago, Assad’s thugs massacred 108 civilians, mostly women and children, in the town of Houla. Days later they carried out a similar massacre in Hama. This sort of carnage has been going on in Homs for months.