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Here’s a case of mutual interest. There are hundreds of thousands of young men right now whiling away unneeded and frustrated in German refugee shelters, some boiling with rage and neglect. Not very far away sits the German military, the Bundeswehr, which has had problems recruiting volunteers since compulsory military service was ended.

How much imagination does it take to change this into a win-win situation?

None at all.

It just demands a sense of reality, a quantum leap of courage, and a couple of changes to German military law to make the Bundeswehr into an army that an immigration country needs, so it can serve both the newly arrived immigrants and their new home country.

At the beginning of this year’s great flood of refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the country a pep talk and noted that, while German thoroughness and attention to detail are both clear pluses, what is needed now is a new value -- German flexibility.

But despite her encouraging words, Germany hasn’t really become all that flexible.

So, especially in military matters, we must remain realistic. But we could get started with a rather modest project, for example, the creation of a German-Syrian military brigade.

A couple thousand candidates could readily be found among the refugees who’ve already been granted asylum in Germany.

Syrian men and women soldiers fighting for the joint brigade would bring a healthy dose of English, motivation and other skills to bond with German men and women in the military.

This multicultural brigade doesn’t necessarily have to be a combat unit, but one that could build bridges and military camps, or provide logistics, supply and maintenance, or paramedics and communication technicians.

In this way, the needy could be quickly turned into helpers for a just, common cause. 

As urgent as the need is to gear up German cities and communities right now to handle the flood of refugees, so too it will be one day be the case to do the same in Syria, when it is time to rebuild there. Many refugees in Germany will want to do that, and do it wholeheartedly.