EUROPE AND THE REFUGEE PROBLEM: A COMMENT
"The migrant crisis at Calais is a story of human misery, war-torn and broken states and European denial. It speaks to a world in which advanced nations have lost the will, and some of the capacity, to prevent and resolve conflicts. Their politicians will not find an answer by drafting in more police or building higher fences. An estimated 5,000 people are camped, in dreadful conditions, around the French ferry port and its entrance to the cross-Channel tunnel. The numbers have been rising through the year. So has the desperation of the migrants to make it across the 21-mile sliver of sea that separates France from Britain.... There is nothing new about large movements of displaced people. In recent memory, Europe has managed the influx of refugees from the former Yugoslavia as well as those from seemingly never-ending conflicts in Somalia and Afghanistan. What has changed — and this was a point eloquently made by António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, when he gave the Ditchley Foundation annual lecture this month — is the spread and persistence of conflicts in failed and failing states. The pendulum in advanced nations has swung from liberal interventionism to furtive inaction.... For all the panic generated by the 5,000 camped in the so-called “jungle” at Calais, Europe has been only slightly touched. Running scared of the populist right, politicians have lost a sense of proportion. An estimated 150,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean in the first half of this year. That is much more than in 2014, but it is to be measured against a population for the 28-nation EU of about 500m; and it remains a small fraction of the 4m who have fled the civil war in Syria. Up to 2m Syrians have fled to Turkey and, as Mr Guterres noted, fully one-third of the population of Lebanon now comprises Syrian or Palestinian refugees".Philip Stephens, "The Calais migrants are Europe’s shame". The Financial Times. 30 July 2015, in www.ft.com.
"Pledges of more money and plans to blow boats out of the water may sound like tough policy making. Yet the agreement cobbled together by EU leaders last week in a scramble to respond to the escalating refugee crisis in the Mediterranean falls well short of the mark and will do little to address the underlying issue. The lesson to be drawn from the meeting is that Europe is still not prepared to address the tragedy of the deaths in the Mediterranean in the most effective and humane way possible. This is because Europe has still not made up its mind about the single key strategic issue: border control. Until it does that it will not solve the problem. To see how this can be done, Europe could look to Australia. Between 2008 and 2013, under the previous Labor administration, effective control of our borders broke down. In that period some 800 boats arrived illegally in Australia carrying 50,000 illegal entrants. Up to 1,400 people died at sea. That state of affairs was reversed last year when the government reimposed sovereign control of our borders. The result is that boats rarely try to come to Australia illegally now, and no one trying to enter illegally has died at sea. Australia’s comprehensive policy includes offshore processing, turning back boats, regional resettlement, the removal of internal policies such as full social service payments, and the political resolve to deliver effective and humane successes in border control.... Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, belled the cat in the most understated British way when he described destroying Libyan boats as “tricky”. If the EU is prepared to use force to destroy boats, then force could be used in a much more strategic and effective way, but not until the EU has decided to control its borders.... Deaths at sea in the Mediterranean is the result of years of border control failure, just as it was in Australia. The deaths were not caused by boats being in Libyan harbours. Europe will experience tragedy until it has sovereign borders".Jim Molan, "Europe could learn from Australia’s tough border controls". The Financial Times. 26 April 2015, in www.ft.com The refugee 'crisis' is an issue which has emerged with sudden quickness in this anno domini. And in some ways could be said to have become as being besides the problems of Greece and Ukraine the leading conundrum for Europe and its beleaguered politicians and its political class. First things first though, make no mistake: whatever one may say of them once they reach the borders of Europe, much less Calais, no one could in good conscience argue against the fact that the lot of these poor wretched people is truly a miserable one. Often forced or prompted by the carnage and brutality of war in their own countries to leave their homes and homelands, few can disagree with wishing them an oh so different set of circumstances! However, with that being said and understood, it is nonsensical to accept the argument of the usual bien-pensant sort `a la Philip Stephens of the Financial Times, that merely by opening its arms, and accepting a few hundred thousand migrants and refugees here, and a few hundred thousand people there, Europe will rid itself of the cauchmar of the refugee crisis. Per contra: it is in fact that case, that merely by accepting a 'few hundred thousand' here and there, especially in such a short time period, the inevitable result is that the forces (what immigration historians refer to as the 'push-pull' factor) causing and propelling the current crisis would redouble if not triple in scope and force. Nor should we forget that it only takes a small number of people at any one time in history to upset and confound the civil order. As Bury's great opus on the Barbarian Invasions of the late Roman Empire shows clearly 1. In short order rather than a crisis caused by a 'few hundred thousand', the issue would in rapid sequence become one of a 'few million'. And while people of the Phillip Stephens sort can claim (truthfully or not) that a mere hundred thousand is small potatoes in a continent of over Five-hundred million, that could hardily be the case if one is talking about say 'a few million'. What then is the solution? Simply put, Europe can and must enforce the law and sovereignty of its borders in the same way and fashion that Australia has done recently. And did very successfully indeed as the piece by Mr. Molan so clearly demonstrates. Pur et simple, the fact is that sans a rigid control of Europe's borders from the teeming masses of poor wretches from the Third World, Europe as we currently know it, will disappear under a brown and black mass of migrants and refugees. This may perhaps be an ugly fact, but a fact it is none the less. If Europe is to stop this from occurring then it needs to act forcibly and immediately to regain control of its border tout de suite. 1. J. B. Bury. The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians. (1927). Wherein Bury notes that it was the influx of a mass of refugees into the Empire in the years 375-377, which ultimately caused the catastrophic defeat of the battle of Adrianople in anno domini 378:
"In recent times Europe has had some experience of the enormous difficulities of dealing with crowds of refugees, and of the elaborate organisation which is necessary. Take, for instance, the case of the thousands of Asiatic Greeks who fled from the Turks and sought refuge in European Greece. Here it was simply a case of affording food and shelter to people of the same race, but it taxed the whole resources of the Greek Government to solve it. The problem that met Valens was vastly different and more difficult. Quite suddenly, without any time for thinking out the problem or for any preparation, he was called on to admit into his dominions a foreign nation, of barbarous habits, armed and warlike, conscious of their national unity: to provide them with food, and to find them habitations. The Roman state was highly organised, but naturally there was no organisation to deal with an abnormal demand of this kind, which could not have been anticipated. As might have been expected, when the barbarians crossed the river and encamped in Lower Moesia (Bulgaria) all kinds of difficulties and deplorable incidents occured. The military and civil officials were quite unequal to coping with the situation, and no wonder. War was the result, a war lasting nearly two years and culminating in A.D. 378 in the great battle of Hadrianople, which is one of the landmarks of history".