Twelve years ago, it was said that the western armies in Iraq would be welcomed as liberators. (They were - for a while.) Today in Germany, another conquering army are being welcomed as liberators - liberators from the residual moral stain of what remains of ethnic nationalism and cultural identity. Watching European news broadcasts right now is like an insane demotic inversion of the Emperor's new clothes. "To a fool these thousands of fit young Muslim men appear well dressed and well fed. But a wise man such as Your Majesty can easily see that they are desperate starving refugees in rags." And so as the trains pull in to German railway stations to disgorge men who meet no known definition of "refugees" they are greeted on the platform by volunteers offering food and second-hand clothes. The cameras do their best to alight on a telegenic moppet or a covered woman, but, even when they do, you notice that they're surrounded by a sea of confident vigorous males - who, according to the UN, make up 75 per cent of the "refugees".
That would be an unusual demographic distortion in most emergency situations. If 75 per cent of the Titanic's survivors had been men who'd left their women and children back on the ship, there might have been a few disapproving comments. But not here. And why complain that the Syrian refugees aren't really "refugees"? After all, they're not Syrian either. Only one in five of the arriving migrants are Syrians fleeing the implosion of their country.
To be sure, there are a lot of Syrian refugees. One in four people in Lebanon right now is a displaced Syrian. That's the equivalent of America taking in 100 million Mexicans - or Canadians, if there were such a thing as 100 million Canadians. But the vast majority of those marching across the Continent to the bountiful welfare states of the north-west are economic migrants lured by western weakness:
The 35-year-old mother of three is from Ghana. She says she came to Germany for economic reasons and is waiting to hear about her visa status. Her children attend the local school, and she wants to settle in Friedland for their sake.
"I want my children to have a bright future," Amoah says. "My first child says she wants to be a doctor and the second one a lawyer. My prayers are that their dream should come true."
There is no civil war in Ghana. But, if you're a 35-year-old single mother, Friedland beats Accra. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or a lawyer, but, like Ms Amoah, the "Syrian" "refugees" have grasped that picking out which European nation to settle in is like choosing universities. Britain, France, Benelux and Scandinavia are the Ivy League. If necessary, Spain and Italy are good solid fallbacks. Nobody really wants to go to the post-Communist countries:
"I don't want to be registered in Croatia. I want to be out of here as soon as possible," said Khalid Nasr from Damascus, Syria. "I want to go to Germany and nothing will stop me."
In the Universities of Life, Germany is Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale rolled into one - everybody's first choice, and with an open admissions policy:
"I want to go to Germany to study computers," said Mr Momtaz.
Great! And Chancellor Merkel can't wait to pay your tuition.
'Germany! Germany!' cries an Afghan teenager aged around 15 in a filthy pink pullover and jeans who is roasting a cob of corn over a makeshift fire.
With piercing blue eyes that contrast with his sunburnt skin after weeks on the road, these are practically the only words of English he knows.
But they're the only words you need.
"I want to go to Germany. Please, Angela", hat ein Flüchtling auf die schwarze Wand in der sogenannten Transitzone geschrieben.
That's the literal writing on the wall.
'I want to go to Germany, there are jobs opportunities there, the healthcare is good and accessible to everyone,' said Kasim, a 35 year-old maths teacher from Iraq.
And there's nothing like accessible health care after a long walk:
"We walked too much. I want to go to Germany, but then I stop," a 26-year-old Syrian man from Homs, whose feet were wrapped in bandages, told Agence France-Presse.
It's a good thing Germany has plenty of - oh, what's the word? - lebensraum. Angela Merkel, a childless woman, has been obsessed with her country's deathbed demography since taking office: Germany's fertility rate has fallen from 2.9 births per woman in 1965 to 1.3 today, and, even with immigration, they're already in net population decline. I wrote about this extensively in America Alone, and all that's happened since then is that the trend has accelerated. Without Germans, there won't be a Germany: when your workforce shrinks and ages, you can't be the economic powerhouse of Europe, or justify your seat at the G7 summit.
I was supposedly an "alarmist" when America Alone warned of the demographic death spiral. Now every western reporter has embraced the thesis as justification for accepting "refugees" - because you wrinkly old Krauts need these strapping young Muslim lads far more than they need you. It's an easy piece to write: pick a German town with declining population - and don't worry, there are zillions to choose from. The Guardian:
Goslar, a town of 50,000, has shrunk by 4,000 in the last decade and is currently losing as many as 1,500 to 2,000 people a year. In some parts of the town, which once thrived on silver mining and smelting as well as a spa, whole housing blocks stand empty while others have been torn down...
Oliver Junk is determined to reverse the trend. The mayor of Goslar has sparked a debate that has spread across Germany by saying he wants more immigrants to settle in the town... There cannot be enough of them, he says.
The town of Manheim, in western Germany, was slated for outright demolition after its lignite coal mine closed; it is a place where, according to the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, "cigarettes are all you can buy." Yet it has postponed its own demolition to receive 73 refugee families.
The newcomers will not on their own rejuvenate Ottenstein's ageing population of 900. But they could be enough to save the school, which the authorities have pledged to keep open as long as the roll does not drop below today's level of 50. "We have to keep the school," says 71-year-old Mr Weiner. "What is a village without a school? Without a baker? Without a butcher? Without a pub?"
Hmm. I wouldn't be so sure Muslim "refugees" are likely to save the village pub. Better plan for a smaller Oktoberfest. Mr Weiner never asks: What is a German village without Germans? Where the butcher is Halal, and the church is a mosque, and no one wears lederhosen because showing your knees is verboten, and the school makes "unclean" menstruating girls sit at the back during Friday prayers...
I wrote about that too, all those years ago in America Alone:
Perhaps the differences will be minimal. In France, the Catholic churches will become mosques; in England, the village pubs will cease serving alcohol; in the Netherlands, the gay nightclubs will close up shop and relocate to San Francisco. But otherwise life will go on much as before. The new Europeans will be observant Muslims instead of post-Christian secularists but they will still be recognizably European: It will be like Cats after a cast change: same long-running show, new actors. Or maybe the all-black Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! is a better comparison: Pearl Bailey instead of Carol Channing, but the plot, the music, the sets are all the same. The animating principles of advanced societies are so strong that they will thrive whoever's at the switch.
But what if it doesn't work out like that?
Best not to ask. Because if you do, you'll get prosecuted, like Marine Le Pen. Best to talk about the dangers of "climate change", as the Pope is doing this week, even as in the heart of Christendom the post-Christian future is showing up at the express check-in. For us 19th century imperialists a hundred years past our sell-by date, the migrant army indicts almost every contemporary western worldview: from Iraq and Afghanistan come the product of a decade of ineffectual desultory "nation-building"; from Libya of frivolous pointless interventionism, and from Syria of non-interventionism; and from everywhere else from across the map of the ruthless demographic logic of what happens when an impoverished dysfunctional tide of humanity next door to a depopulating not-so-gated community of soft decadent poseurs has sufficient access to "social media" to figure out whose system is easiest to game. The west's cultural imperialism - the smart phones, the TV shows - do not spread western "values" but only western weakness: Look at how we live! And how close and undefended we are!
"I want to go to Germany". If everyone goes to Germany, there will be no Germany to go to. But Angela Merkel has given a generation of young men from the Mahgreb to the Hindu Kush their battle cry. And the lesson of this month is that no one will stop them.
Oh, don't get me wrong. There are real refugees in Europe, and there will be more: Ask a Jew in Toulouse, a gay in Amsterdam, an uncovered woman in Rosengard...