Ilargi: Europe’s Refugees Are a Global Crisis

Yves here. I managed to miss this post, which ran last week. It describes how European leaders are still in denial about the seriousness of the refugee crisis and are focused on what amount to stopgap measure.

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor-in-chief of The Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

At the moment I start writing this, leaders of European nations are in a meeting in which they talk about refugees that, though it was announced over a week ago, was nevertheless labeled an ’emergency’ meeting. The only thing that truly tells you is that Europe still refuses to see the refugee situation as an emergency. And that’s not just semantics.

Of course there’ll be all sorts of bickering about the difference between migrants and refugees, and tons of words about how “we” should separate the two, and send people back, and strengthen European borders, and fight the human smugglers. None of which addresses reality, or at least at best a tiny sliver of it.

“Smugglers” are not the problem, it’s the people they “smuggle” that are. Or perhaps we should turn that around and admit that in fact it’s the European leaders who are the problem. It’s they who lack any courage or vision, or even a basic understanding of what is going on.

Angela Merkel has gotten a lot of accolades when she opened Germany’s borders to Syrians, even though that only lasted a few days. But people seem to forget that she is Europe’s most powerful politician, and that makes her responsible for a lot of the drowned children who lose their lives on a daily basis in a small stretch of the Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece.

Merkel should have acted much faster. She’s just as culpable as all the other jokers in Brussels and various EU capitals. They all were, and still are, hoping this issue would go away by itself. Instead, the issue has only just started, and the whole continent is woefully unprepared to this day.

German paper Die Welt ran a story this weekend (in German) that detailed how Merkel and her government were warned in Q1 by the German federal police (Bundespolizei) that a million refugees would be coming to Germany in 2015. And did nothing. The paper didn’t provide a precise date, but Q1 ended close to 6 months ago, so we know Merkel et al could have acted on this information -and prepared- at least half a year ago.

Have they? Given the chaos that developed within a few days of allowing refugees to enter the country, our money’s on a resounding NO. So those portraits we’ve seen with Angela dressed up as Mother Teresa can now be filed away as ludicrous.

The outcome of today’s meeting is very easy to predict. There will be promises of millions of dollars, and of saddling Greece and Italy with huge camps to house refugees in, far away from whoever is either too comfortable or too right-wing to deal with Europe’s new reality.

There will be nothing in writing that comes even close to what is needed, neither financially nor in practical terms. All politicians will feel free to pander to, and hide behind, their bigoted populations.

These talks should have taken place at least half a year ago. That might have saved children’s – and adults’- lives both in the meantime and in the future. That nothing of true value happened between the moment Merkel got her warning and last week’s announcement of this week’s “emergency” meeting not only tells you all you need to know about Merkel and her peers, it also is certain to both have made matters worse and to continue doing so going forward.

There is precious little to be expected from Europe’s leadership, because there is so little of it. They all like the power but skirt the responsibility. The EU apparently seeks to charge 14 nations with 19 cases of violating EU asylum treaties, but countries like Croatia and Hungary were so unprepared for what happened to them, this could only have led to panic and fences and police dogs. It’s a miracle nobody shot a whole bunch of refugees. Yet.

It could all have been prevented if Merkel had decided not to shelve that warning from her federal police force, and instead had called a high level summit then and there. But she was too busy whipping Greece into submission, and hoping, as all other did, that one morning it would all prove to have been a bad dream.

One would suspect that French secret services also had information on what was to come, but François Hollande is a dunce who spends his time counting votes and reading polls. David Cameron would probably prefer to drown and/or shoot that ‘swarm’, and the other heads of state either don’t count for much in terms of population numbers or elect to keep their mouths shut lest they risk the next election.

If Europe’s leaders don’t tackle the issue now, and in an effective way, we risk, with a likelihood bordering on certainty, much worse than we have seen so far. The refugees will not stop coming to Europe. But with autumn now on the doorstep, their journeys will become much more perilous, and deadly.

Europe is set to change, and in very sweeping ways. That cannot be altered. What can be done is to treat refugees like they are human beings, whose lives matter the way German and French lives matter.

Moreover, if Merkel had called that EU meeting in early spring, she would rapidly have concluded that it was not enough. That this is not a European problem. Very few of the refugees, after all, are European. It is, therefore, a global problem. And there is a political body to deal with those, the UN. Merkel would have called a UN meeting long ago if only she had called that EU meeting first.

Why the UN itself hasn’t even opened its mouth, other than to chide Europe, is a mystery. It’s on a fast track to becoming redundant.

The US has announced it will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees – who may take two years to be processed. For perspective: in the space of just three hours this morning, 2,500 arrived on the island of Lesbos alone. The US cannot deny its share of the blame for causing the crisis. It can still, however, start acting in a humane fashion.

Not like Hollande and Cameron whose main target today is increased bombing of the very places the refugees are fleeing from, not providing them with asylum away from those places.

The refugee question should be the top priority in the talks Obama has with the Pope in America in the next few days. As it should be in the meeting(s) with Chinese president Xi Jinping, who’s also in the country. But it doesn’t look as if that’s going to happen. It’ll be a sidenote at best.

Merkel has a narrow window to right her wrongs, and it’s closing fast. If she doesn’t act now, we’ll see Europe’s lack of humanity and abundance of disgrace bared even more, and increasingly so.

There will be blood.

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  1. low_integer

    This all traces back to 9/11, for which the official story does not comply with the physical laws of the universe.

      1. low_integer

        Just because a phrase such as ‘physical laws of the universe’ is too much for you to get your head around, there is no need to descend into the ridiculous.

    1. James

      The official story doesn’t even comport with the laws of common sense, and yet it remains officially unassailed. The cognitive dissonance is palpable.

  2. tony

    MENA is overpopulated, as is most of Europe. Next country to go seems to be Egypt, a country of 90 million people that already imports 40% of its food. Once Egypt falls, it will probably take at least a few countries in the region with it. Then there are maybe 100 million coming to Europe.

    For Europeans that is an existential crisis. Europe is a lot poorer than it seems and opening the borders is a collective suicide
    You could try to prevent MENA collapse but rapid population growth combined shrinking production capacity means Europe could starve its own population to feed MENA and it still would not prevent the coming refugee crisis.

  3. Haven Monahan

    Interesting position the author adapts. Obviously the current waves of “migrants’ into Europe is an intesification of the neoliberal globalist plot to destroy the nation state and to impoverish the 1st world. Angela Merkel, neoliberal #1 has basically begged the impoverished masses from the Middle East and Africa to come settle permanently in Europe. A Europe where youth unemployment is between 20% and 50% in many countries. A Europe in the throes of a economic crisis triggered by neoliberal globalization. But industry gets cheap labor and will be able to destroy once and for all Europe’s teetering welfare states. Industry will get their migrant labor costs subsidized and then eventually throw the less useful migrants back on to the public dole. On the other hand Socialists believe they are getting voters but that assumes their democracies will survive — and they will not.

    The author clearly supports all this neoliberal migration but needs to keep a steady distance from Angela Merkel so he criticizes her for what, not sending a fleet of 747’s straight to Africa and the Middle East to directly pick up any and all migrants who wish to enrich Europe?

    Cheerleaders of these migration would have us believe people are fungible. Ask the Native Americans how fungible the Spanish conquistador-migrants or English migrants were. Or the Khoisan peoples in South Africa how fungible Dutch migrants were.

    History has shown over the past 50 years that a large percentage of Muslims in Europe are not integrated into the larger societies. In fact much poverty and unemployment in Europe is centered in these communities.

    But even supporters of migrants recognize the austerity they will impose on Europe. This is what Labour’s Racheal Maskell says:

    “We need to shout so much more and say 20,000 is not enough, 30,000 is not enough. We will keep going until we hit our saturation point because what does it matter if we have to wait another week for a hospital visit? Or if our class sizes are slightly bigger? Or if our city is slightly fuller? What does it matter if things are slightly more challenging? If we have to pay a little bit more into the system? Surely it is worth it to see those lives being restored again.”

    I mean if we can’t get Europeans to accept austerity for the banksters let’s get them to accept it for the migrants. Remember, it’s only “slightly” more austerity. And then “slightly” more. And once the saturation point is met well we might need to impose “slightly more. But while Racheal Maskell is brave enough to own the migrant austerity she is attempting to impose on Europe, most neoliberal cheerleaders of mass migration do not. Some go as far as to push the ridiculous line that a country with a top-heavy aging population needs to import a class of mostly working age dependents to compete even more fiercer for every welfare Euro. Remember pensioners, we are “slightly” reducing your benefits so we can take care of the migrants.

    Because Angela Merkel’s commitment to mass demographic replacement knows no limits. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán could no doubt win a landslide election to be President of Europe tomorrow. Luckily for neoliberal globalists, strangely enough, there are no elections for a real President of Europe, let alone even that position. At least America has the possibility (so far) to elect a Trump or Sanders.

    Once the migrant spigot is turned on there is no turning it off. Germany power will be used to inject these migrants far and wide to ensure that NO European countries remain European.

    So yes:

    “Europe is set to change, and in very sweeping ways. That cannot be altered. What can be done is to treat refugees like they are human beings, whose lives matter the way German and French lives matter.”

    This is basically a call for European sui-genocide. If we compare the population replacement currently gaining steam in Europe to the migrant genocide of indigenous people in 18-19th century America or the destruction of the Khoisan in Southern Africa by Dutch migrants, will see why this time it is a combination of demographic suicide and genocide.

    In both of those situations the indigenous people were split between trading and fighting the migrants. But this very brief window of opportunity for forcibly evict the invasive migrants slammed shut very quickly. And no Native American or Khoisan leader ever invited their conquering migrants in the first place.

    In Europe this population replacement is to a large extend self-inflicted. Despite the obvious warning signs of what a neoliberal EU would mean, everyday Europeans did not resist enough. Now they will resort to voting for nationalist parties but in many countries, first on this list being Sweden, this will be too little too late. Within 20 years we will see waves of “old” Swedes migrating out of their country.

    It is suicide for Europe because they do have the power to stop these migrations and yet do nothing. They should have long ago abandoned the neoconservative plot to destroy powerful Arab nation states to keep Israel safe. In order to survive Europe must reject the US and reach out to Russia instead. In addition, Europe can finance refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East. They could implement Australia’s policy on no migrants reaching her shores. And they have the power to massively deport 98% of these migrants — only Christian Syrians have any business seeking asylum in Europe; they lack the will to do so. I am certainly that if at some point for example the Cherokee had the power to deport their American migrants, they would have jumped at the chance.

    Europe allowed itself to fall into the clutches of the forces of neoliberal globaliztion and now escape will only occur through the use of force. In such a war some areas will escape and others will be saved from neoliberalism. But will these victories be temporary. Will Europeans be marching on their own Trail of Tears towards the wilderness of Russia in the coming decades?

    1. david

      “intensification of the neoliberal globalist plot to destroy the nation state”

      yes US induced chaos coupled with the US promoted TPP / TTIP is the one-two punch to eliminate sovereignty via Tribunals appointed by corporations making the decisions ultimately.

      There will be no citizens only labor

    2. dana

      Yours is a much more eloquent argument but along similar lines to a comment I posted, today, on seperate forum, in response to discussion of US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for the expulsion of Mexican “illegal aliens” from the US.

      Has anyone taken into consideration the after-effects of NAFTA on the Mexican population, for example, which amounted to a perfect laboratory experiment as to what mass deprivation and consequent migration can do to increase corporate profits through decreases in wages in countries to which impoverished peoples are drawn.

      The NAFTA experiment was such an overwhelming success, what does anyone imagine the carbon-copy TPP and TTIP are about?

      The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Europe where unemployment is skyrocketing, social support is being cut back, if not outright eliminated, is part of a broad, established political plan. …

      It is in Europe that the concept of ‘nation-state’ was implemented, along with the notion of ‘legal’ ‘property ownership’ [whut?], a strategy which, thanks to its taxation of enclosed serfs, served to finance colonial expansion and limitless global wealth extraction.

      The problem todays’ plutarchs face is an increasing lack of ability on the part of the conquered masses to consume, hence to contribute to corporate profits. With wavering, tilting, near-imploding fake financial markets, the only way these vultures know how to respond is by squeezing out profits by force. And lowering wages through the creation of immigration crises is a known, well-worn tool. This needs to be recognized for what it is: a last-ditch strategy and, when the whole effing global financial debt-based infrastructure implodes, which is ineluctable, who does anyone suppose is destined to pay the price?

      The cost and necessity of taking in and caring for immigrants is negligable in the broader scheme of things. It is high time, meanwhile, to be creating the means to protect ourselves and the environment from rogue elements.

      1. different clue

        “Has anyone taken into account the after-effects of NAFTA . . . ” Well, yes. Someone has. Many someones. Even so limited and pedestrian a thinker as myself has suggested referring to the illegal immigrants from Mexico as “Naftastinians”.

    3. jrs

      “We need to shout so much more and say 20,000 is not enough, 30,000 is not enough. We will keep going until we hit our saturation point because what does it matter if we have to wait another week for a hospital visit?”

      Generous thoughts but it depends on the illness, but even if it’s not serious, it means people lose faith in your medical system which means a push to privatize it. already underway in the UK.

      “Or if our class sizes are slightly bigger?”

      It means your children are not learning and possible a push to privatize that (though that’s mostly a U.S. issue).

      “Or if our city is slightly fuller? What does it matter if things are slightly more challenging? If we have to pay a little bit more into the system? Surely it is worth it to see those lives being restored again.”

      The city fuller might mean noone can afford the rents, they can’t in London anyway, but maybe anywhere. But what if the city was fuller and all landlords were abolished? Then I don’t know :) I’m presuming this economic system continues.

  4. financial matters

    Neoliberal and neoconservative policies definitely helped create the refugee crisis and I think it’s going to take a major change to deal with it.

    These policies are getting harder to ignore as they start majorly affecting western countries.

    Many people understand the problem and offer roadmaps for a better future such as Naomi Klein, Michael Hoexter and Maria Mazzucato.

    “We owe such an effort to people like Ekaru Loruman, who are already suffering and dying on the front lines of the catastrophic convergence, and to the next generation who will inherit this mess. And, we owe it to ourselves.” (Tropic of Chaos)

    As Hannah Arendt points out when challenging thoughtless production and consumption

    “This, obviously, is a matter of thought, and thoughtlessness — the heedless recklessness or hopeless confusion or complacent repetition of ‘truths’ which have become trivial and empty — seems to me among the outstanding characteristics of our time. What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing.” (The Human Condition)

  5. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Let’s be clear: the typical refugee had a mud hut, an olive tree, and a goat. Politicians in the West, paid for by a few arms billionaires and supported by an ignorant, deluded, supine and fearful electorate, decided to blow up the hut, chop down the olive tree, and kill the goat. Precisely what did we expect the man to do? And remind me exactly who should be completely and wholly responsible now for the man and his fate?
    As RL Stevenson said “eventually everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences”. Enjoy the meal.

    1. BEast

      Well, in the case of Syria, the multi-year drought in much of the countryside was a compounding factor. Rural people moved to the cities, already straining with refugees from Iraq. (Which, like you say, was the U.S. and its allies in that invasion’s fault.)

      A couple years of diminished harvests and lack of work, and tensions were running high enough that the Assad government’s overreaction to some graffiti during the Arab Spring days was enough to set off mass protests.

      And since then everybody and their cousin has been fighting in Syria or funding proxies there for their own reasons — the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia.

      Which is not to say the U.S. coalition of the dumb didn’t have a major hand in destabilizing the whole region, but there were other factors in Syria.

      To me the big question is, how can governments and policy makers deal with issues of overpopulation in ways that are non-racist and humane. Governments from Mexico to Iran have done so, (see Countdown by Weisman), but public campaigns and readily available birth control are not terribly feasible in war zones… and even in non-war zones, governments have to be willing to conscience such programs.

      But while Europe can and must take refugees whose lives are in danger in their home countries, no place on Earth has unlimited carrying capacity, and every country will have to deal with increasingly disruptive weather (causing crop failures). So what Europe can provide by way of safety valve is limited, time and numbers-wise.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        To me there has just been a time delay which conveniently lets the war-mad West deflect responsibility. Refugees from their WFFAP (Wars For Fun And Profit) have been piling up by the millions in camps in Jordan and Turkey, after a few years of poverty and misery they are finally heading north.
        “Hey the house burned down”
        “How did that happen?”
        “I’m sure it was nothing to do with the empty can of gasoline I’m holding in my hand”

        1. BEast

          Especially the U.S. has been like, “Who, me?” I agree.

          But to me any sound response has to be looking forward, as well. Maybe because I see the current crisis as a preview of what’s to come the rest of this century.

  6. Malcolm MacLeod

    Frau Merkel is giving us a good lesson on how to destroy your country from the inside.
    It’s not that difficult.

  7. EoinW

    We reap what we sow. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how irresponsible people can be. We were perfectly happy with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, plus quite happy to live with Libya and bombing Syria. Yet when it comes to taking refugees from the countries we destroyed we put the blame solely on our politicians then plead “existential threat” as an excuse to turn these people away. Shouldn’t we have been more concerned about these things before allowing the destruction of these refugees’ societies? You think thousands of refugees are an existential threat to our society, well that’s chicken feed to the existential threat NATO poses to any society in its cross hairs! But do we manage more than the occasional protest at the behavior of NATO? We do not change our lives one iota in an effort to stop such behavior. Now loads of refugees are going to change our lives for us. Or they’ll force us to, perhaps, be more honest with ourselves while authority uses all means to stop this migration.

    I find the hysteria laughable. You’d think people expected Syrians to be camping out in their backyards. Should I be preparing my spare bedroom for a family from Libya to move in? Personally I believe people should be free to move where they want to. I do not feel a need to tell other people where they can or cannot live. I certainly do not support governments and bureaucrats who think they have that right to do so. I can travel 3 days to Vancouver but if I try to travel 3 hours to Buffalo armed guards will prevent me from doing so. Amazing that social conditioning makes all this perfectly acceptable to us. Live and let live seems to only apply when it’s convenient to us. When it’s inconvenient, generations of social conditioning take effect as racism rears its ugly head once again. Is western morality really just fair weather morality?

    1. jrs

      Who are you calling “we”? How how many Ivy League studies do we really need to prove the people have little say in how the country is run? (in the U.S. at least) Who is this “we” you speak of?

  8. todde

    I don’t believe in the free movement of people, capital or goods across countries borders.

    If we want to treat the refugee crisis then let’s set up safe areas in Syria guarded by multi national forces.

    The plan is to break down national sovereignty and replace the nation-state with what I am calling the investor-state.

    If you want to know the plan peter sutherland is pretty vocal about ending national homogenity.

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