A suspiciously "European" solution
by Tom Sullivan
American presidential candidates debate deporting millions of immigrant families to Mexico as Europe faces the worst refugee crisis since WWII. On the Macedonian border with Greece, CNN reported last night:
Refugees who are soaking wet and hungry in makeshift camps, with only a few nongovernmental organizations present to help, told the CNN team of sheer misery.
A Syrian man said he never imagined Europe would be like this.
"Look at her," he said, motioning to his 3-year-old daughter in his arms. "In Syria she was a princess, now she is like a rag. They are treating us like animals."
He said that if someone could get him back to Syria, he would go. "Better to die from bombs in my homeland than die out here," he said.
The Independent reports this morning:
For a second day, they came. And, for a second day, they faced a wall of riot shields, razor wire and batons. But on Saturday something was different. As the Macedonian police waved a handful of exhausted refugees through from Greece, something snapped and hundreds rushed the lines, causing chaos and police retaliation in the form of volleys of stun grenades and beatings. Many were injured.
And yet they still came and, eventually, with the tide of humanity too much to hold, the Macedonians opened the border with Greece. The police, who only hours before had swiped and batted at the crowds, simply stepped aside as thousands – men, women and children, many from Syria – streamed through, crying tears of joy as they began their next step to sanctuary and escape from the horrors of war in their own countries.
The Guardian, also this morning:
Hundreds of migrants have crossed unhindered from Greece into Macedonia after overwhelmed security forces appeared to abandon a bid to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe following days of chaos and confrontation.
Riot police remained, but did little to slow the passage of a steady flow of migrants on Sunday, many of them refugees from the Syrian war and other conflicts in the Middle East, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.
Macedonia had declared a state of emergency on Thursday and sealed its southern frontier to migrants arriving at a rate of 2,000 per day en route to Serbia then Hungary and the EU’s borderless Schengen zone. This led to desperate scenes at the border, as adults and children slept under open skies with little access to food or water.
Elsewhere on the Mediterranean, Italian and other naval vessels rescued another 2,000 refugees yesterday, responding to distress calls from more than 20 vessels in danger of sinking.
Donald Trump and others on the right are too busy insisting we have walls to build across our southern border to take notice. But maybe someone should point out that this is a suspiciously "European" solution coming out of the mouths of American politicians:
Throughout Europe, leaders are succumbing to the keep-them-out syndrome. Hungary is building a fence (along its border with Serbia). Spain has done the same (in Ceuta and Melilla). Bulgaria followed suit (on the border with Turkey). More fencing is springing up in Calais.
In Macedonia, which is not in the EU, they are deploying armoured vehicles against migrants. Will this work? Unlikely. When you flee atrocities and war, the desperation to reach a haven will always be stronger than security fences and dogs.
The causes of migration in Europe and the Middle East are more instability than economics, argues Patrick Kingsley in the Guardian. Human smugglers often portrayed as the source of the problem are simply reacting to the opportunities presented by demand for their services, as any conservative economist could tell you. But as I recall, one of the last mass migrations in my lifetime occurred after the U.S. military debacle in Vietnam. Not enough attention has been paid to the fact that the current crisis presents itself in close proximity to American adventures in Iraq and Syria. Strategist Thomas P.M. Barnett has suggested that one of America's greatest exports is security. Isn't instability more like it?