Austria and Europe’s Migration Crisis, Part II

 
Major refugee routes to Europe. Source: Deutsche Welle
Major refugee routes to Europe. Source: Deutsche Welle

A few days ago, I posted the first part of an extended email exchange between me and one of our members, Lilibellt, an Austrian native who now lives in Vienna. Here’s the next part. It gets quite detailed, but even so, we’ve barely begun to discuss the other massive crisis facing Europe. Still, keep Putin in mind as you read this. Peter Dickinson argued in Newsweek yesterday that Europe is still in complete denial about it:

Many inside the EU seem unwilling to admit the 25-year honeymoon period of European peace and prosperity since 1991 is over. They cling to the idea of a return to the old “business as usual” status quo, and appear to believe Russian aggression is only an issue for Moscow’s immediate neighbors.

This policy of obstinate denial is not only morally bankrupt—it also encourages the Kremlin to escalate a hybrid war campaign designed to reverse the results of the Cold War and break up the European Union itself.

We discuss the Putin problem in subsequent email exchanges, which we’ll post soon. I just note it to place what follows in its larger context. Europe has no shortage of problems right now.

Claire: What, specifically, do you think should be done to stem the influx of migrants?

Lilibellt: Four things.

First: Restore lawfulness and secure the Schengen borders. The Schengen-Dublin dilemma shows the chaotic state of Europe at its best. My layman’s understanding of the Dublin III agreement and the Schengen Treaty is that in order to maintain open borders among the Schengen members, migrants and refugees must be processed in the countries they enter first. According to the safe third country rule, people who illegally enter the inland of the Schengen area have to be sent back to the country, within the Schengen territory, whose borders they most recently crossed–

Claire: —Dublin III seems to be based on the Geneva Convention and Protocols. One thing I noticed in it is this:

A process for early warning, preparedness and management of asylum crises serving to prevent a deterioration in, or the collapse of, asylum systems, with EASO playing a key role using its powers under Regulation (EU) No 439/2010, should be established in order to ensure robust cooperation within the framework of this Regulation and to develop mutual trust among Member States with respect to asylum policy.

What do the words “solidarity” and “trust” mean in concrete, legal terms? I don’t know and doubt anyone does. But according to (EU) No 439/2010,

For Member States which are faced with specific and disproportionate pressures on their asylum and reception systems, due in particular to their geographical or demographic situation, the Support Office should support the development of solidarity within the Union to promote a better relocation of beneficiaries of international protection between Member States, while ensuring that asylum and reception systems are not abused. [My emphasis]

Austria is definitely a “member state faced with specific and disproportionate pressures on its asylum and reception systems, due in particular to its geographical or demographic situation,” right? Problem is, there are many ways that clause could be interpreted. It could support Austria’s demand that Greece and Italy better control their borders; but it could just as easily support a Greek or an Italian demand that Austria accept more asylum-seekers and process them on Austrian territory. After all, Greece and Italy too have been “faced with specific and disproportionate pressures.”

But before we look at the legal details, let’s focus a bit on the history of the crisis and the region’s geography. It’s important to visualize how complex it is to secure every border by which someone could enter Europe, and how much cooperation it would require among countries that still have no established common mechanism for border control–

Lilibellt: –it’s easy to see that European countries with territory bordering non-Schengen countries were at a great disadvantage in the summer of 2015, when the influx of refugees and migrants increased dramatically. Hundreds of people killed in the Mediterranean. Thousands upon thousands of refugees in Lampedusa and Idomeni, and no end in sight. As far as I know, the EU made no concerted effort to help countries like Italy, Greece, or Hungary deal with this huge number of asylum-seekers. Instead, it turned a blind eye the way Italy and Greece were openly violating the Dublin agreement by not registering asylum-seekers and just letting them move on.

Hungary began building a border fence, first along the border with Serbia, then along the borders of Croatia, Slovenia, and Romania. Hungary was ferociously criticized for its policies both by the German and the Austrian chancellors. The Austrian chancellor, Werner Faymann, likened Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s refugee policies to Nazi deportations. Maybe I’m not savvy enough, but to me it looked as if unlike Italy and Greece, Hungary had secured its borders — and in doing so, had complied with its duty as the external frontier of the Schengen Area.

Another major turning point was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s press conference in the late summer of 2015, in which she announced Germany’s unilateral suspension of Dublin III for Syrian refugees, which meant, de facto, that all refugees and all migrants could come to Germany directly without threat of being deported to a safe third country (such as Hungary or Greece). But if there’s no registration at the Schengen borders, how do you know who’s a Syrian refugee and who’s not until they’re in Germany? Her message, “We can do it,” was heard loud and clear around the world, especially today, with social media and the Internet. So Syrian refugees, and refugees from other countries who were pretending to be Syrians, and migrants who had conveniently lost their papers — they all set off for Germany. By now I’ve lost track of which countries have suspended Dublin III and Schengen.

This is what I meant when I quoted Weber. An ethics of responsibility would demand from politicians non-ambiguous formulations, hard distinctions, and the definition of a clear, feasible objective with all the hard measures and heartbreaking pictures that come with it. Ethics of opinion, on the other hand, are laws and treaties as vague as Dublin III, or Merkel’s announcements that “We can do it,” or her references to the inviolability of human dignity (Article 1 Par. 1 of the German Basic Law – which now applies to the whole world, in effect), or, “There is no legal limit to the number of asylum seekers in Germany.” That may be correct according to the Geneva Convention, but it is certainly not feasible in reality. Her speeches don’t give people any specific answers, but they give them the good feeling of being on the right side of history (this time around). All the hard measures will be taken and the heartbreaking pictures will surface anyway, and maybe more so, but who cares, we had the right intentions!

Austria, in any case, reinstated border controls in January–

Claire: –how well did that work? What was the daily influx before that, and what was it after that?

image004
Source: Austrian Interior Ministry

Lilibellt: As far as I can tell, along with other measures, it improved the situation. The trend peaked at 12,000 asylum requests per month in October 2015, and now it’s reversing. Last April there were “only” 4,000 asylum requests. But it could also be seasonal, we can’t draw conclusions until the end of summer.

Claire: What does it take, in terms of manpower and resources, physically to patrol all of Austria’s borders?

Lilibellt: Hard to say, because I’m no expert. It seems to me that the mountainous provinces of Vorarlberg, Tyrol, and Carinthia have natural barriers against the south (Italy and Slovenia) and the west (Switzerland), and aren’t too hard to secure save for the mountain passes. For the time being, border controls in some places, for example at the Brenner Pass between Tyrol and Italy, have been suspended. But security measures are in place if needed. There’s a realistic possibility that Italy will hold up its end of a recent agreement to prevent illegal aliens from crossing the border to Austria, if only out of self-interest. If Austria reinstates border controls at the Brenner Pass, it would hurt Italian tourism. In the east, Hungary has already secured its borders, so I’m not sure if Austria needs to take any further measures. Until now, there seemingly hasn’t been a large number of refugees coming from the north. Slovakia, like Hungary, is a member of the Visegrad Group, which opposes refugee quotas for Europe.

That leaves a non-mountainous area of 90 miles on the southern border, with Slovenia. The government has built a fence there. In the winter there were almost no asylum requests. All in all, I think 90 miles is manageable, even for a little country like Austria. But as we discuss later on, I don’t think border walls or fences are the best way to deter migrants. Far more important is the restriction of benefits. If you have the right incentives, you can finally deal only with the real refugees.

Claire: Given that steps have been taken to secure the border, and given that the flow of migrants fell sharply as a result, why were you so unhappy with the government’s performance? Is your chief complaint now a matter of the ease with which criminals can escape deportation? Or was your vote intended to send, in a sense, a vote of no-confidence to Merkel and the rest of the EU, a warning that they need to get it together?

Lilibellt: Because like many others, I suspected that these measures were primarily taken to avoid an FPÖ president. The numbers of asylum requests are down, but like I said before, really conclusive data won’t be available until the end of summer. If you look at the graph, you see that the numbers of asylum requests this spring compared to last year are the same, the decrease is only in comparison to previous (warmer) months. The unusual numbers in May and June may just be because spring was unusually cold this year.

There are no longer crowds of refugees waiting at the stations for trains to Germany, or waiting, and even sleeping, in front of the interior ministry, or the social services, or — for example — in front of the house I live in. The distribution of the refugees has definitely improved.

But between the two rounds of the elections, Chancellor Faymann resigned and a new government was sworn in. And just yesterday, the new chancellor, Christian Kern, backtracked on proposals to limit asylum requests. The new state secretary for immigration, Muna Duzdar, who’s of Palestinian origin, is a strong open-border supporter. Exactly what I expected if [Green Party candidate] Alexander Van der Bellen won the presidential contest.

I voted for [the FPÖ candidate] Norbert Hofer because I wanted to avoid a situation like this, where the government continues ignoring half the people after the election. On top of that, large parts of the media, the president, and the government keep referring to FPÖ voters as resentful, unsuccessful, poorly educated, misinformed xenophobes in need of their guidance and understanding. A highly dangerous mix that will fuel resentment and radicalization on the other side even more. I really worry. The first refugee camp on Austrian soil — uninhabited, they were going to arrive soon! — has already been burnt down. Until now, arson like this only happened in Germany.

Let me repeat that I would rather see stronger measures taken to send rejected asylum-seekers back home, and separate refugees from migrants in a faster, less bureaucratic way, than to limit to asylum requests. In short, it should be about the real refugees and not (yet) about the limitation of access for real refugees. But the concern I mentioned in the first part of our interview — that last summer’s failure to distinguish between migrants and refugees would harm the real refugees — has already come to pass. Germany is examining the possibility of declaring an official limit to the number of asylum applications it will process this year. Austria already declared one. Well done, EU and Frau Merkel.

And just as Dublin and Schengen are incoherent, the same is true of the European legal system. So there’s an appeal process for asylum-seekers not only at a national level, but the European one; there are European Court rulings that refugees can’t be sent back to Greece and Hungary, because they aren’t considered safe third countries. Expediting the selection process would surely be in violation of one of the many agreements and treaties in place. So it’s generally “easier” – especially in light of Germany examining the same possibility right now, perhaps confronting the same dilemma – for Austria to limit the number of asylum requests. Total madness.

Claire: What were the economic effects of sealing the borders—was commerce affected, trucking, imports and exports? How did businesses that rely on trade with the rest of Europe respond?

Lilibellt: Really sorry, but I don’t have enough insight to answer that question. Anyway, Austria will likely lift the suspension under the new SPÖ Chancellor Kern — and Greece and Italy still haven’t secured their borders.

Claire: Let’s remind people here that these are maritime borders, and perhaps explain what happened with Operation Mare Nostrum. In October 2014, Italy ended its search and rescue operations after critics in Italy and Europe claimed that the rescue mission was just creating incentives for more migrants to attempt the sea crossing. The Italian government had been spending nine million Euros a month on it. Italy asked the rest of the EU for funds to support the operation; it refused. But cancelling the operation didn’t result in a decreased rate of crossing. Within a month, a thousand people had died in shipwrecks.

So it was replaced with the EU-funded Frontex, which in principle “promotes, coordinates and develops European border management,” but which in the words of this Bureau of Investigative Journalism report,

… is arguably more for show than substance – a microcosm of everything that is hampering a pan-European response to the current crisis. …

Frontex actually has little power and struggles to operate in the straitjacket imposed by the collective failure of member states and Brussels to fully commit and cooperate with it – despite the current crisis. …

… Our investigation has also uncovered official warnings about the way the agency oversees the return of illegal migrants.

And even its intelligence-gathering role is hampered by a lack of member states’ action.

Frontex risk analysis during the past three years correctly predicted a surge of refugee numbers streaming through the central Mediterranean, Greece and Hungary.

The trouble is Europe did not act on its findings.

The consequences of these EU-wide failures has been to create an environment in which thousands of people have drowned at sea and where smugglers have made fortunes from refugees fleeing war.

Greece is an archipelago, and I truly think it never occurred to people before this started happening that so many people would risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean in rubber boats: It was assumed this was a reasonably impenetrable natural barrier. I also suspect that people keep thinking about this without thinking about the context in the MENA region. It used to be possible, for example, to make (extremely dirty) deals with Qaddafi: “You keep anyone from escaping, we’ll pretend we don’t know how you make that happen, and we’ll invest in your oil.” And Syria of course used to be a Baathist dictatorship with a very strong state; now it’s a failed state and a refugee factory with no authority strong enough to control its own borders.

There’s no easy solution to this that doesn’t involve killing people who are trying to escape these places. In a way, the collective non-decision to let them drown is a passive-aggressive way of deciding, “We will protect our borders with force. If you try, you will die.” No one has to shoot them, but not rescuing them amounts to the same thing—

Lilibellt: —The EU didn’t help. No question. But since everybody wanted to get to Germany, Austria, and Sweden anyway, Italy and Greece waved through most of the arriving migrants without processing them.

Claire: Most? Many refugees are still in Greece. A seventh of all in the EU in total.

Lilibellt: That’s true, but the refugees don’t apply for asylum in Greece (in contrast with Italy):

image005

Lilibellt: –Austria wasn’t any better, the state-run railway company transported thousands of migrants to the German border. You can’t overlook the irony here, the man who was in charge of the company back then is now our new, sworn-in chancellor – actually a human trafficker himself. If you did the same thing with your private vehicle, you would end up in jail. Craziness all around, and not many journalists who seem to care.

But let me continue to my second point: Don’t process refugees and migrants on national territory. Create an offshore detention facility protected by the military, e.g. on a Greek island or in North Africa, with clear preferential treatment to refugees.

Claire: Do you know if any Greek island or African country has expressed a willingness to do this? Greece is already de facto a refugee holding pen, and I suspect wouldn’t agree to this being formalized.

Lilibeltt: If I remember correctly, Greece has and will again very soon receive bailout payments. Am I being too simplistic, or do I see some leverage here? (And there are islands without inhabitants.) I concede that Greece is having a hard time right now, but it is partly self-inflicted, and they can’t accept refugees refusing to be transported to other places. Hard decisions will have to be made and the pictures won’t be pretty.

Claire: It’s not pretty, no, especially because everyone’s response is, “Keep them somewhere else.” And since politicians are responsible to their national electorates, rather than a larger “Europe” (no matter how hard the EU pretends it has authority), everyone tends to blame their immediate neighbors for the problem rather than looking at the impossible problem — the conflicts that are prompting people to flee.

Austria’s not a superpower, it doesn’t have an “Eritrean policy.” Turks are asking, “Why the hell are we responsible for all of this? We’re not even part of the EU, we’ve taken more refugees and spent more money than any other EU country, and now you don’t even want to let our citizens travel to Europe? How insulting can you possibly be!” — it’s all understandable, at the national level.

Lilibeltt: Third point: Urgently negotiate readmission agreements with Afghanistan, Morocco, Tunisia, Pakistan, Somalia, Chechnya. Doing this is mentioned specifically in European treaties, but the European Commission can’t be bothered; they’re too busy calculating the penalty payments for member states that don’t accept their refugee-quotas. If the EU is unwilling to do it, Austria should conclude bilateral treaties.

Claire: What’s wrong with the readmission agreements as they’re now written, and what would the goal of these negotiations be? Is there evidence that the EC can’t be bothered, or might it be that they’re trying, but it’s taking a long time and they’re not getting much cooperation from the governments in question? I’d think cooperation would be good with Morocco and Tunisia. Neither country is apt to be producing many legitimate refugees, so in principle there should be very few, or no, unskilled job-seekers coming from there to Europe. I don’t know whether the Afghan state has enough control to negotiate treaties expeditiously. Wouldn’t any agreement with Chechnya have to be negotiated with Russia? I don’t know how that would work–

Lilibeltt: –I was a bit sarcastic there. Yes, they are negotiating right now, but I sense a lack of urgency. What I should have written: Urgently finalize negotiations with those countries. I stand by the last sentence: If the EU doesn’t succeed in doing so in the near future, we should begin bilateral negotiations. Afghanistan and some others will be difficult, therefore there have to be detention facilities, not only for migrants of certain nationalities, but also for migrants who have conveniently lost their papers.

Last point: There should be massive financial and military support for refugee camps in the region.

Claire: Absolutely agree with you about that. Do you think it’s necessary for Austria to become more involved in settling the conflicts that are producing so many of these refugees? I don’t think the influx from places such as Syria and Libya is apt to stop until the civil wars stop. The push factor is just too high.

Lilibeltt: Yes, correct. As much as I wish that America would be more involved, I also agree with people on Ricochet who think it’s time for Europe to take on some responsibility. You can’t always leave the dirty work to Americans and then condemn them for waging war or having self-interested motives. “Oil, you know!” “Austria is politically neutral like Switzerland, so conveniently, we are off the hook.” Those are the opinions of most of my fellow Austrians.

Claire: But you do support both the EU and the letter and spirit of the Geneva Convention, it sounds. Is this a common view among people who voted FPÖ? You sure wouldn’t know it from the press, if so.

Lilibeltt: I say: EU: Jein (Yes and No) – another time. The EU directives on asylum go beyond the Geneva Convention. (I support the Geneva Convention within its “natural” limits: For example, a country can’t grant asylum to as many people as it has inhabitants; or at least, I wouldn’t support that, it must be feasible enough that a democratic majority will be comfortable with it. But this is common sense, isn’t it?) The FPÖ says, EU: Yes (with the emphasis on Union of Nations, not a United States of Europe – paraphrased from their party program).

Claire: The vagueness of Dublin III is a recipe for conflict. Every country blames the other, no one to has sufficient legitimacy to take responsibility, and no one, therefore, takes responsibility — leading each member state to an even greater lack of “solidarity, trust, and smooth functioning” with the other.

And for everyone who will automatically say, “The problem is the EU, get rid of it,” I have to ask: Then what? Re-hire the same bureaucrats to negotiate a new treaty that at best will say exactly what EU No. 439/2010 does? Someone will have to negotiate these treaties if there’s to be any cooperation — and they will require an EU-like structure to implement.

Lilibeltt: The downfall of the EU was the Greek bailout — also under Merkel — in violation of the Maastricht Treaty. A much more complex problem than it looked on the surface, much like the refugee crisis, but that’s the problem with this kind of lawlessness, it comes back to bite you. Losing trust is so much easier than gaining trust. I don’t see the EU recovering from this, and that’s the most scary part: What will a Europe without the EU look like?

Claire: My instinct, based on the reality of power politics, is that the US will ultimately either lead these negotiations and dictate a solution to this problem (to a reasonable approximation of sanity, at least) or cede Europe to Russia. But we’ll pick up that point from here next time–

Lilibeltt: –what I’m sensing and guessing is that the people (not the politicians) of middle Europe, at least, distrust America more than Russia. The reasons for that are simple: The hard left (anti-capitalism) and the hard right (latent and open anti-Semitism, nationalism) are indistinguishable in their anti-Americanism. The political center to a large extent thinks America is the reason for all of this turmoil in the first place, either because of the Iraq War (among those who lean left), or because of Obama’s naivete (among those who lean right).

Claire: On top of that, if the European state that would naturally dominate decision-making, by virtue of wealth and power, tries to dominate decisions like these, the rest of Europe goes nuts, because Germany’s history of trying to do that has left … bad memories, shall we say. Neither France nor Germany can impose their will on the situation because the whole point of the EU is to contain that rivalry. And Britain is useless; they can’t even decide if they want to be part of Europe. So effectively, the smaller states are the victims of the chains Germany and France have placed on themselves.

This is where our conversation ends, for now. To be continued.

……………………………………….

Thank you so much for the contributions that have allowed me to focus my attention on stories like this. I’d of course be hugely grateful for support toward defraying the costs of travelling to the countries affected by this (starting with Austria), seeing what’s happening with my own eyes, and then writing about what I see:

There are 61 comments.

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  1. Flagg Taylor Member
    Flagg Taylor
    @FlaggTaylor

    Again, fascinating stuff!

    • #1
  2. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    The map says, “Mainly from…” six different times.

    “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.

    Let’s hope the bain does not fain mainly come from the insane?

    • #2
  3. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: image005

    This is a fascinating graph. Look at the huge (absolute and proportional) rises in Hungary and Finland, and the modest increases in the UK, France and Italy. And why does no-one want to live in Poland?

    • #3
  4. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    “Many inside the EU seem unwilling to admit the 25-year honeymoon period of European peace and prosperity since 1991 is over. They cling to the idea of a return to the old “business as usual” status quo, and appear to believe Russian aggression is only an issue for Moscow’s immediate neighbors.”

    Part of this is no doubt due to the U.S relieving these countries from having to spend on the most basic of gov’t duties- defending the nation. However, as Mark Steyn often points out, cradle-to-grave socialist welfare states infantilize people, and leave them feeling the gov’t is a kind of parent while they are mere children without responsibilities.

    • #4
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    TeamAmerica: Part of this is no doubt due to the U.S relieving these countries from having to spend on the most basic of gov’t duties- defending the nation. However, as Mark Steyn often points out, cradle-to-grave socialist welfare states infantilize people, and leave them feeling the gov’t is a kind of parent while they are mere children without responsibilities.

    I’d need to see empirical evidence of a significant connection between levels of welfare spending and a belief that Russia poses no significant threat to one’s national interests. European welfare states didn’t exist when the Munich agreement was signed. I’d be extremely surprised if more than a small percentage of Americans saw Putin as a significant threat to US interests. If I wanted to spin theories about why, I could say, “Having large oceans to a country’s east and west infantilizes people.” But that would be pretty silly. People respond to these threats in different ways at different times for complex reasons. I would guess that the variable most closely correlated with “concern about Russia” is “having a historic memory of being invaded by Russia,” not “level of welfare spending.”

    • #5
  6. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Insanity. Pure insanity. Other than a desperate attempt to avoid a third (or fourth) European war, why would the countries of Europe want to be saddled with this insanity.

    • #6
  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    David Knights: why would the countries of Europe want to be saddled with this insanity.

    I don’t think anyone wants this. I’m also unsure how you’re counting European wars, or which policy you think is designed to forestall a European war. There are good reasons not to want a war with Russia.

    • #7
  8. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Note:

    Vulgarity regarding who is rape-worthy.

    genferei: And why does no-one want to live in Poland?

    Language barrier.

    Lower welfare benefits.

    Impending Russian invasion.

    [redacted]

    • #8
  9. Mr Nick Member
    Mr Nick
    @MrNick

    Very likely true. I know Poles who are much more fearful of Putin’s Russia than we “useless” Brits. Great journalism Claire, thank you.

    • #9
  10. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    genferei:

    And why does no-one want to live in Poland?

    Et voila.

    • #10
  11. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Zafar:

    genferei: And why does no-one want to live in Poland?

    Et voila.

    Nut graph:

    Last year, the Polish state received 4112 asylum applications from Russia. The authorities approved 252 of them (Overall 6 per cent: with 13 granted refugee status, 37 granted subsidiary protection, and 202 granted temporary stay.) … “Those negative numbers are one of the main reasons why they do not wait till the end of their own procedure and leave Poland, moving to Western Europe after their registration even if they know that they could easily get sent back to Poland because of Dublin III”

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    There is a big cognitive problem in that I am not sure the notion of being European is anything other than a denial of more familiar cultural identities. These are people who have largely abandoned the Christian heritage but cherry pick from the legacies of what used to be their common cultural connection. By submitting to micro-homogenization from Brussels they seem to think they are also transcending their respective national identities and loosening the bonds imposed by national heritage.

     A “European” is someone with an identity (delusion?) defined solely by not being part of or bound by religious, cultural or national heritage. A vaguely transcendent being linked only to a benevolent bureaucratic absolute ruler rather than a history of a people.

    That disposition prepares them to resist parental expectations about making babies or demands to honor ethnic or religious duties but is pretty useless against actual threats from outsiders who not only don’t share their culture-transcending experience but despise it and all that went before it.

     The immigrants will not become European in either the new or old meaning of that term. There will be ugly ethnic and culture wars and those who foster and cling to the illusion of cultural transcendence are entirely to blame for that.

    • #12
  13. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    David Knights: why would the countries of Europe want to be saddled with this insanity.

    I don’t think anyone wants this. I’m also unsure how you’re counting European wars, or which policy you think is designed to forestall a European war. There are good reasons not to want a war with Russia.

    European wars. #1. Either 1789 to 1815 or 1870 depending on what you want to count as a modern European war. #2 WWI, #3 WWII,

    So the next war would be the Third or Fourth European war depending on how you want to count.

    As for not wanting a war with Russia, NATO was the response/solution for that (which worked very well, even before the creation of the EU), not the EU and its idiotic rules. The EU was the dream of bureaucrats for a United States of Europe, but without any sort of messy democracy.

    • #13
  14. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Lilibeltt & Claire,

    But the concern I mentioned in the first part of our interview — that last summer’s failure to distinguish between migrants and refugees would harm the real refugees — has already come to pass. Germany is examining the possibility of declaring an official limit to the number of asylum applications it will process this year. Austria already declared one. Well done, EU and Frau Merkel.

    And just as Dublin and Schengen are incoherent, the same is true of the European legal system.

    This is the same beast we are all facing. Coherent law & policy would direct maximum resources to those who truly need it. The left’s attempt to force a result by a vague bureaucratic autocracy produces the most disastrous effect and will result in damage to true refugees.

    When Mexico was allowing the Guatemalans to jump aboard the Death Train (so named because so many died trying) and ride the 800 miles through Mexico to the US border, nobody stopped to ask why the Guatemalans were so desperate to leave in the first place. (Also, if our reticence to accept the influx was deemed racism what exactly was the Mexican excuse?) There is no free lunch in foreign policy. Isolationism/Non-interventionism can sound high-minded in the short term, unfortunately, it can make for horrendous long term problems. Blurring law so much as to allow bureaucrats absolute power is an insanely dangerous innovation in response.

    The EU is neither fish nor fowl. It is not a large mega-state like the US with a strong elected constitutional central government. Nor is it just a close knit trading alliance. It has morphed into something that is making a hash out of things and is threatening liberal democracy to cover its tracks. Little wonder a fool like Obama wants to extend the EU’s power and make America EU like. He’s upside down and backwards and seems to like it that way.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #14
  15. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    You know, I used to care deeply about Europe. I lived there – in Paris and Milan for many years. I worked there. I have many close friends there -still do. I travel there a few times a year. When I was living there they were creating the new, improved EU, the Euro and the European bank. The weaknesses of their approach were obvious, but they persevered.

    And as I listen to Donald Trump and realize that many Americans just don’t care that much about relatively rich nations strewn across Europe who can’t seem to figure out how to make their societies secure and safe, …I say, why worry about it. They will eventually figure it out. They will. It may be an inferior outcome, but they will muddle through. That is the modern European, socialist way. Unless Brexit comes to pass, it will be business as usual.

    And, …no matter the problem, deficits, immigration, terrorism, Putin, Greece,…. they will portray their solution as wisdom, humane, and thoughtful. They will critique us for not showing a progressive, intelligent approach of compromise and flexibility. The will plaster over the problem while they will give awards and shower our anti-liberal dignitaries with great accolades and praise. Al Gore, Barrack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Sean Penn remain Gods to the European leaders, dilettantes, elites, status quo’s, bureaucrats, intelligentsia, opinion-makers, and apparatchiks, be they aristocrat, people of “some accomplishment,” or lumpen.

    Think Jamaica – only surrounding the Alps. No worries, mon.

    • #15
  16. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    I am trying to understand the fundamental motivations of all those involved. There are many moving parts, but I am aiming at the basics. I have the sense that facts on the ground, rather than conventions, treaties, diplomacy and the like will determine outcomes in the long run. That frightens me.

    European elites seem motivated by humanitarian desire to help what promises to be millions of individuals fleeing ever more failed states, many with endemic or even epidemic radical Islamist populations. I get the sense from Merkel, for example, that these desires take insufficient account of limited economic/financial resources in countries which are already straining under the weight of their welfare systems.

    Conquest of Europe has been a consistent effort from the seventh through the 18th centuries, the latter in the form of the Ottoman – Hapsburg wars. Today’s Islamist militants have not been shy in advocating use of demographic means of conquest. It seems to me, then, that this provides an irresistible incentive to create and maintain failed states as literal factories aimed producing refugees in large numbers. From the perspective of Islamist thinkers/strategists, it seems inescapable that Europe has declared itself to be a very soft target, indeed, for this type of slow-motion warfare. All that is required is continued brutality on the ground in failed states with large Muslim populations.

    This is reinforced, in my mind, by the fact that formerly-Christian Europe has done little to rescue Mid-eastern Christian refugees.

    • #16
  17. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    civil westman: it seems inescapable that Europe has declared itself to be a very soft target, indeed, for this type of slow-motion warfare. All that is required is continued brutality on the ground in failed states with large Muslim populations.

    I think you’re trying to put a hugely complex situation — one that’s every bit as complex as it looks at first glance — into an overarching analytic framework that’s unlikely to be so simple. A bit the way ideological leftists would look at this and say, “global warming, overpopulation — we told you so.”

    The crisis may indeed partly be attributable to desertification, climate change, and resource scarcity, but that’s only one part of the story.

    There are surely feverish Islamists who dream of conquering Europe by population jihad, but that doesn’t mean it can or will happen, or that these refugees (probably the great majority of them are real refugees) represent an army, literally or figuratively, or that they’re operatives of an organized Islamist plot.

    At the end of 2015, Frontex statistics suggested 710,000 had reached Europe (and this is probably over-counting by a quarter, because many seem to have been counted both in Greece and Hungary or Croatia). This is less than a thousandth of Europe’s population. Refugees are now a quarter of Lebanon’s population. That’s not because there’s a plot to invade Lebanon.  The total influx into Europe is slightly more than it was in the early 1990s, when people fled from the former Yugoslavia. This is what happens to Eurasia when there are wars of that scale.

    Most of these people are frantically trying to escape Syria — the most brutal conflict of this century. Half the population of Syria has been displaced.Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon are sheltering by far the largest numbers of refugees, globally. No European country has accepted asylum-seekers in anything like those numbers.  The ten countries with the highest number of refugees are all in Asia and Africa. Both Turkey and Pakistan each have more refugees under their protection than the entire European continent.

    So, “deadly conflicts” are my best guess at what’s driving this, not a plot to invade Europe.

    Why so much conflict? In part they’re a symptom of the breakdown of the international system built over the past seventy years. The result of growing rivalries between the major powers, including the revival of US-Russian rivalry. They’re the result of very contingent, unfortunate circumstances: We couldn’t intervene when it might have made a difference in Syria, because Putin made it so clear it was his protectorate — and because domestically, the revulsion at the idea of intervening in another Middle Eastern conflict was just too great.

    The next-largest sources of migration are Iraq and Afghanistan, and as painful as it is, if anyone was behind a “plot” to create a refugee outflux like that, it could only have been the United States. And it wasn’t a plot. This was not, at all, the goal of our intervention in either country. But it has been the consequence.

    No one knows what the US will do anymore, or whether we have any idea what we’re doing, so no one feels confident in following the US lead — especially because there isn’t one.

    European states don’t trust each other yet. The wounds of the last century are still too fresh. It will be another two hundred years at least before that becomes a dim memory. The European Union is still too fragile and protean a political system to function as a unitary, rational body and to respond effectively to this kind of threat. The Eurozone crisis knocked the stuffing out of it; the failure of the Libya intervention destroyed confidence. And at the same time — and it’s a much bigger threat, because you can’t just dismiss it as a bluff after Crimea and Ukraine — Putin’s threatening to nuke his way toward reconstituting the Soviet Union.

    Human trafficking is huge money. Funding for humanitarian aid has dried up.

    There are so many complicated parts to this story. I doubt it’s a slow-motion invasion of Europe, though. I think it’s an extremely poorly-managed refugee crisis, at a time when no one is in a good position to lead, materially or morally.

    If millions of people end up stuck in fetid refugee camps and prisons for the next several decades, though, I do think that’s a timb bomb. Probably of an Islamist variety, but it could be another species of horror, too: A few kids get their hands on Mao, that ideology could spread like a virus, too. Or something we haven’t even dreamt of. But jihadism is the obvious risk. That said, it’s not as if it would be just fine for these people to languish in camps for half a century provided they were no threat to us. It’s a moral stain on our century.

    On the bright side, in some parts of Europe, immigrants have genuinely been welcome, and are revitalizing villages that would otherwise have died.

    • #17
  18. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: At the end of 2015, Frontex statistics suggested 710,000 had reached Europe (and this is probably over-counting by a quarter, because many seem to have been counted both in Greece and Hungary or Croatia). This is less than a thousandth of Europe’s population

    The ~750 million population figure is for a Europe that includes Moscow and Istanbul.

    • #18
  19. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon are sheltering by far the largest numbers of refugees, globally. No European country has accepted asylum-seekers in anything like those numbers. The ten countries with the highest number of refugees are all in Asia and Africa. Both Turkey and Pakistan each have more refugees under their protection than the entire European continent.

    Which then begs the question of why any “refugees” need to go to Europe. If just a few more Islamic countries made even slight efforts, they could accommodate all that are in Europe.

    • #19
  20. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    ctlaw:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon are sheltering by far the largest numbers of refugees, globally. No European country has accepted asylum-seekers in anything like those numbers. The ten countries with the highest number of refugees are all in Asia and Africa. Both Turkey and Pakistan each have more refugees under their protection than the entire European continent.

    Which then begs the question of why any “refugees” need to go to Europe. If just a few more Islamic countries made even slight efforts, they could accommodate all that are in Europe.

    ct,

    The Islamic countries, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordon, already have and are continuing to. The obvious answer was to just send aid to the countries already housing the refugees safely not create a stampede of people drowning in the Mediterranean Sea because someone had promised them European Shangri-La.

    What happens when another Middle Eastern country disintegrates because of Jihadist insurrection? How about another 5 million, 15 million, or 50 million? This is so stupid it should win the Nobel Prize in Stupidity. Obama already has one. Merkel will be getting hers soon.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #20
  21. James Madison Member
    James Madison
    @JamesMadison

    Again, why is this a burning issue? They will ignore. They will finesse. They will protest. They will distort. They will pretend. They will resolve it in a semi-messy way. It’s Europe. The land of collective good. And they know best. So, don’t worry. Muddling is what they do.

    • #21
  22. lilibellt Inactive
    lilibellt
    @lilibellt

    male female ratio refugees

    My excel sheet shows you the male-female-ratio of asylum-seekers in Germany 2015. More than 60 % of refugees are between 16-40, of these young refugees 70% are male. If you calculate with a base of

    1.100.000 – this is the number of people, that have entered Germany in the course of the refugee crisis (officially confirmed by interior minister DeMazière) –

    instead of 450.000 – this is the number of official asylum requests for last year (in the article, I linked to below, this discrepancy is explained by administrative delays) –

    it follows, that approximately 1/2 million young male migrants/refugees mostly without wifes are added to 10 millions young male Germans (Germany counts 82 mill people, 24% aged between 20-40, a little bit less than half of them are male). This equates to 5% more young men within a year.

    It is also worth mentioning that in the age group of 0-16 and 55-65+ the female-male-ratio is “normal”, meaning 50%-50%.

    Only 50% in total are Syrians, Irakis, Afghans, the 3rd largest group of “refugees” are Albanians (!) followed by people from Kosovo (I thought this war was over, who knew). The 2nd largest group (17%) consists of people from other countries. Aha.

    • #22
  23. lilibellt Inactive
    lilibellt
    @lilibellt

    TeamAmerica:Part of this is no doubt due to the U.S relieving these countries from having to spend on the most basic of gov’t duties- defending the nation. However, as Mark Steyn often points out, cradle-to-grave socialist welfare states infantilize people, and leave them feeling the gov’t is a kind of parent while they are mere children without responsibilities.

    I concur, you can draw an analogy between countries, that handed over their defense to a more powerful, benevolent protector and people, who think government should take care of them in times of need. The vast welfare systems in Europe would have been impossible to maintain, if NATO (i.e. America) hadn’t carried the financial burden for Europe’s defense. You have to ask yourself, why national defense is of no/little concern to most of my fellow Austrians and Europeans. In Austria spending on national and inner security combined amounts to roughly 3,5% (!) of government expenditures (France in comparison spends 13% on national defense, that is closer to what the US is spending on military today, not in the past). The Green Party – years ago – seriously suggested to abolish the military all together, because Austria is a neutral country and times of war in Europe are clearly over (I guess, I shouldn’t feel worried, that the former head of this party is now our President and CIC).

    • #23
  24. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Lili,

    it follows, that approximately 1/2 million young male migrants/refugees mostly without wifes are added to 10 millions young male Germans (Germany counts 82 mill people, 24% aged between 20-40, a little bit less than half of them are male). This equates to 5% more young men within a year.

    I don’t feel the need of recourse to utilitarian arguments. One should make a distinction between true refugees and migrants. That should be what we concentrate upon, helping the true refugees as a priority. On the other hand, nothing could be more politically tone deaf than ignoring this sociological earthquake.

    The sociological earthquake, if exacerbated by an arrogant government, will turn into a political earthquake.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #24
  25. lilibellt Inactive
    lilibellt
    @lilibellt

    James Gawron: I don’t feel the need of recourse to utilitarian arguments. One should make a distinction between true refugees and migrants. That should be what we concentrate upon, helping the true refugees as a priority.

    Of course, that should be our focus and I didn’t want to emphasize utilitarian arguments. But such demographic disparities can impact public opinion negatively towards refugees and migrants alike, especially in light of the events in Cologne.

    And frankly, I resent EU officials for always comparing the number of refugees/migrants to the total of EU citizens. First Europe for the most part is disproportionally old and the refugees/migrants are disproportionally young and male, second the EU plan of refugee quotas probably will never go into effect. As most refugees/migrants already are or want to go to Germany, Austria and Sweden, it is only realistic to assume that those countries will have to deal with the majority of asylum-seekers.

    • #25
  26. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    This doesn’t need to be the US’s problem, ‘cept that Omega is desperately rushing to get 200K unvetted “refugees” in here before he leaves office. Europe has drunk the Kool-Aid. Clinton/Omega are stirring up a vat of it for us.

    • #26
  27. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: There are so many complicated parts to this story. I doubt it’s a slow-motion invasion of Europe, though. I think it’s an extremely poorly-managed refugee crisis, at a time when no one is in a good position to lead, materially or morally.

    What you say sounds plausible and is a welcome perspective, but on this point I’d like to differ slightly. Just because it’s not intended as a slow-motion invasion of Europe doesn’t mean it’s not an invasion of Europe. The invasion of North America by Europeans was an invasion, even though it wasn’t intended as such by the participants.

    • #27
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    The Reticulator:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: There are so many complicated parts to this story. I doubt it’s a slow-motion invasion of Europe, though. I think it’s an extremely poorly-managed refugee crisis, at a time when no one is in a good position to lead, materially or morally.

    What you say sounds plausible and is a welcome perspective, but on this point I’d like to differ slightly. Just because it’s not intended as a slow-motion invasion of Europe doesn’t mean it’s not an invasion of Europe. The invasion of North America by Europeans was an invasion, even though it wasn’t intended as such by the participants.

    It wasn’t? They didn’t notice they were killing Native Americans and taking land to make farms?

    If Europeans had gone to America then the way Syrians are coming to Europe now they would have done stuff like applying for refuge and integration in the Iroquois Confederacy or the Sioux Nation. It seems quite different.

    • #28
  29. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    …because everyone’s response is, “Keep them somewhere else.” And since politicians are responsible to their national electorates, rather than a larger “Europe” (no matter how hard the EU pretends it has authority), everyone tends to blame their immediate neighbors for the problem rather than looking at the impossible problem — the conflicts that are prompting people to flee.

    Is the take away from this that, for a number of reasons, instability and war in MENA States today present Europe with a different (more physically and politically immediate) set of challenges than had been anticipated?

    If the asylum seekers in Europe are the tip of the tip of the iceberg, how does/should this change in the West’s policies on icebergs?

    • #29
  30. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Zafar:

    The Reticulator:

    The invasion of North America by Europeans was an invasion, even though it wasn’t intended as such by the participants.

    It wasn’t? They didn’t notice they were killing Native Americans and taking land to make farms?

    Certainly they noticed and favored such actions. They even bragged of their “Manifest Destiny” to take over the whole continent and more, as though putting a label on it somehow justified it.

    But those who came from Europe, when they came, had other personal or communal motivations, not unlike those Muslims who are described by Claire. Some even came, determined to have good relations with the Indians, unlike those nasty, Catholic Spaniards in South America. In the end, such good intentions were incompatible with other goals, which gained priority. In the end, the result was an invasion.

    If Europeans had gone to America then the way Syrians are coming to Europe now they would have done stuff like applying for refuge and integration in the Iroquois Confederacy or the Sioux Nation. It seems quite different.

    Yeah, many of those who came sought integration. They thought their own culture was superior, but they sought integration. By the time of the second generation, or sometimes even before, they were behaving very differently than the first comers had intended to behave.

    • #30

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