How many more thousands will die from drowning?

What many of those who write about or even think about migration are in denial about is the scale, not just the reality, of the African population. Unless there is vast starvation there in the coming decades, or it suffers a major epidemic, then, at present fertility rates, the present population of 1 billion will expand to at least 2 to 3 billion in the coming 30 years.

In short, as many Africans — usually young men on behalf of their families — who can afford the fees demanded by those businessmen whom politicians pejoratively call ‘human traffickers’ will arrive in Libya, or some other launch point, get into a dinghy for Italy.

How many will try to make the crossing — and how many will die by drowning — is anybody’s guess. Mine is up to a million a year. This is greatly exceeded by the natural birth rate in Africa, so the immigration could be vastly greater than what has already happened due to Angela Merkel’s virtual ‘open door’ statement of last year.

In order to prevent even more extreme right-wing parties forming in the EU countries then the Brussels bureaucrats will have to come up with an effective policy. They actually want to increase immigration but they will have to draw a line very soon if they hope to keep the EU in anything like its present shape and composition.

Evading the real issue

Prime Minister Cameron won’t debate face to face on the Referendum issue with Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage because they’re both more intelligent and forceful. Pity, because both would have brought up the vital element in the whole issue — the one that forced Cameron into allowing a Referendum in the first place — mass immigration over the past 20 years or so.

The real issue in the debate is nothing to do with economics. No one can possibly tell — never mind prove — whether this country’s balance of payments will do better after 23 June by staying in or leaving the EU. It’s a purely emotional issue — that is, an instinctive issue. How much can any indigenous culture stand by way of absorbing a different culture, particularly if it’s distinctively different?

The EU-Turkey ‘Agreement’ is dead in the water

The EU-Turkey ‘Agreement’, negotiated yesterday, is dead in the water before it starts. Here are a couple of questions:

1. Is the EU capable of adequately assessing 200,000 refugees, now trapped in Greece and Italy?

[No, not without proper training of assessors and protection by sufficient army and security personnel.]

2. If and when the 200,000 are sent back to Turkey before equivalent numbers of Syrians are then transported to the EU, is there any estimate of how many will actually be sent?

[None at all. Except for trivial numbers none are likely to be transferred anyway because at least half a dozen EU countries — who’ve understandably kept quiet during the negotiations — will refuse to have any.]

Why next week’s EU plan looks to be impossible

Next week 28 EU foreign ministers are supposed to agree the outline plan made last week between Angela Merkel and Turkey. The two main features of this are that (a) all those Syrians who’ve managed o get to Greece and are now trapped are to be returned to Turkey; (b) they, together with Syrians already in refugee camps in Turkey, will then be chosen — by lottery or assessment? — to go legitimately to the EU in the same numbers as those already mentioned in (a).

Ignoring all the intermediate logistical problems to do with the return of Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Iranians and all those assumed to be economic migrants — way too complicated to be contemplated here, never mind being discussed — is how are perhaps half a million (b)s going to be shared out among the EU countries? Most will only want to go to Germany, Sweden or England.

England won’t have them at all because it says that we are already taking in enough Syrian camp refugees. Germany and Sweden won’t take them because a rising tide of far right-wing opposition parties have arisen since Merkel came up with her idea of open doors four weeks ago. It is already obvious that many other EU countries will also not take any in by default. It looks like an impossible situation to me.

Turkey can’t be trusted

Now that we see Turkish coastguards firing high pressure water jets at immigrants’ dinghies trying to reach Greece and others trying to smash immigrants’ engines, is it any wonder that many immigrants are rumoured already to be drowned? Can any responsible government in the EU rely on any sort of agreement with the Turkish government? Last week the EU — Angela Merkel actually — asked the Turkish government to prevent immigrants actually setting out from the mainland.

Is Turkey, a sizeable country with sizeable security forces, unable to do that? It is a country that is now sliding back from having a secular government a few years ago to becoming a religious one. And we know, in Europe, just how nasty religious governments can be. If the EU foreign ministers meeting next week make any further agreements with Turkey then the EU is in an even worse mess than ever.

Blackmail attempt by Turkey

A deal was outlined last night in Brussels between the EU and Turkey that — apparently — achieved everything that Turkey wanted, including accelerated ‘consideration’ of Turkey’s application to join the EU. Such is the confusion that the EU has of itself — though not yet of its core civil service ideology as a future super-state — that an increasingly undemocratic Turkey has been able to provisionally blackmail the 28 countries of the EU.

The idea is that all migrants crossing to Greece from Turkey will be returned to Turkey where they will be assessed in reception camps. Once some are accepted as genuine asylum seekers they can then be sent on legitimately into the EU. It’s only provisional because the leaders of the EU countries will be meeting again next week to confirm how they will share the ‘legal’ Syrian refugees between themselves. If they agree, of course. They haven’t agreed to take in more than trivial numbers so far, except for Germany. But even in Germany there is a rising number of people joining right-wing street demonstrations and might take a lot of the wind out of government sails even as soon as next week.

Waiting for the Africans now

The German newspaper, Die Welt, tells us that there are already 200,000 Africans pooled in Libya waiting for calmer weather before crossing to Sicily. This is not so large a number as the million or so already on their way — largely overland — from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan but, potentially, the number of migrating Africans out of a population of over 1 billion, could be ten times as many before too long unless the EU do what I suggested over a year ago in this blog — effectively blockade the ports from which their rubber dinghies set out

If there is one thing that characterises the EU more than anything else it is that, with 28 member countries but no Cabinet of four or five which is able to take practical decisions, there is no possibility that the surge from Africa will be stoppable once it starts.

What about today and Sunday?

This was when the 28 Prime/Foreign Ministers were to have decided what to do about the mass migration into the EU.  Yesterday, however, much to the annoyance of most, it was dominated by the Brexit question.

Opinion is divided between the neo-liberal Angela Merkel and followers who want to allow a million or more Syrian migrants into Germany and EU, and the Visegrad Four, or V4, an alliance of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia which don’t want them.  To these may be added Denmark, Sweden and Austria which, after being inundated, are now only allowing very small numbers in.

The obvious solution is to build large assessment centres at the main entry points on the boundary of the EU, sending back those migrants who don’t have genuine cause for seeking asylum. At the time of writing, no-one knows what the consequences on the returnees will be.  There are also rumours that Greece and Italy may have to be excluded from the visa-free travel zone within the EU — though not from the EU itself. This would be a fundamental breach of the EU.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day for the EU !

Will Greece be cut off today?

The 28 Prime/Foreign Ministers of the EU have not yet resolved special British concessions in an all-night session.  Today, they are more anxious to move onto the more difficult question of how to halt migrants from Syria and Africa at its borders before the Spring rush starts. Even if Greece has to be cut off from road connection !

So will there be two more nails in the EU coffin at the end of today?

The next-but-one EU Referendum

There is so much woffle being said on both sides in the British Referendum debate — whether to remain in the EU or to leave — that I’m ruminating whether I’ll bother to vote at all.  The real test is not whether the EU has a future as a United States of Europe (USE) — which is being planned as a copy of the United States of America (USA) — but whether it’s going to hang together for much longer anyway.

The evidence is about equally balanced both ways at present.  On the one hand, we have an implacable EU civil service based in Brussels which is intent on nothing else than a USE.  On the other, we have the continuation — if not intensification — of sharp cultural divisions between the 27 member countries which, according to some, will only get worse each time the EU meets new problems.  We actually needn’t wait for those.

The EU still has an enormous financial and economic problem with countries such as Greece still receiving a bail-out and Italy and France shortly needing ones of their own.  Also, the EU still has another enormous problem since, along with America, it decided to oust President Bashar Assad by bombing Isis but avoiding other dissident groups in Syria.  The devastation caused by the bombing actually became a twin problem — the enticement of Isis jihadists out of Iraq and into Syria, and the forcing of millions of Syrians into either refugee camps in adjoining countries or, if they can afford to pay traffickers, to flee to the EU.

Politicians tell us that we’ve all got to vote because voting in a referendum is only a ‘once-in-a-generation’ thing.   Who says so?  Is that a law of physics?  If Britain votes to stay in the EU in June  I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t vote again in two or three years’ time when the financial problems and the immigration problems — singly or together — become altogether too much for the would be arriviste USE

The EU is beginning to shake a little

There’s a huge irony in the nature of the mass migration that’s now shaking the European Union.  It’s the real reason why the Brussels Commissioners and Foreign Ministers alike have not yet been able to devise a practical admissions policy for asylum seekers — mostly families — from Syria.  It is because the majority of would-be migrants — from many other countries besides Syria — consist of those who are pejoratively called ‘economic migrants’.  They would have to be sent back — and in their hundreds of thousands — if accurate assessment could be made in reception centres.

But the latter are the energetic young men that the politicians — particularly Germany — really want to add to their workforce.  Rather cleverly, however, politicians seldom referred to these during most of 2015 and confined themselves to talking of the terrible plight of refugee families, usually with young children — and thus how much we should welcome the immigrants.

It is the genuine refugees who bring out the full swell of sympathy from many ordinary people in the European countries.  With the media also concentrating on these, then it’s no wonder that there was no great resistance in the early months to the rapidly increasing numbers of immigrants.  It took a while for the penny to drop among the non-middle-class parts of the population — those in poorly paid jobs.

European politicians — particularly those in Germany — want the young men in the same way that both the Labour and the Conservative administrations in England encouraged two to three million of young men from Bangladesh, Africa and India in the last 15 years. They would add immediately to the workforce and start paying taxes to help ease the ever-growing burden of the welfare state. Also — and this is only just being realized, the children of poorly-paid immigrant parents — are doing better at school than native children of the same socio-economic level.

Moreover, it is a fact of life that immigrants turn out to be more enterprising than the indigenous population.  This oughtn’t to be surprising but it’s understandable when it’s realized that many of the economic migrants came from what were middle-class families in their home country.  Otherwise, they could not have afforded to pay the traffickers relatively large sums of money.

A recent survey of the Forbes 500 Rich List in America revealed the astonishing fact that immigrants  — or their children — less than 2% of the population — produce 41% of the names on the list.  Other things being equal, energetic young people can do wonders for a country’s economy !  Nevertheless there’s a lot of fear about their jobs among the lowest paid native workers.  The politicians should have done a lot more to reassure them.  As it is, the original complacency has now led to European-wide controversy, and it’s also broadening out to all sorts of different quarrels between countries of very different cultures — particularly from the Vinograd-4 — Poland and three other countries that were formerly communist countries for a couple of generations.

Terrorist attacks are the least of our problems

It is already the case that the 300 million of people in northern Europe are experiencing population movements from some of the 400 million people of the Middle East and the 1,100 million people of Africa.  While the population of the northern European countries is liable to decline to 200 million by the year 2100, the Middle East will expand to 680 million people (a 72% rise) and Africa will expand to 4,950 (a 350% rise)  [The figures are derived from a report from the Royal Bank of Canada, based on population projections of the United Nations.]

While it is true that migrants mainly come from the war-torn countries of the two blocs, how many more wars are there going to be in the coming years?  Migration pressure will remain enormous and continuous from now onwards unless the lesson (unfortunately brutal) of “No more” is rammed home as soon as possible. This has almost been achieved on the land borders but the EU has still not had the courage to institute blockades on the Mediterranean sea coasts from which boats set out.  It is only then that the thousand-mile supply chains of migrants will slow down and then cease.

Government politicians are sensitive to terrorist attacks by Isis and so forth, but the majority of ordinary folk in ordinary jobs in Europe are far more worried about immigrants taking their jobs away from them. It is this fear that has eclipsed what would be their normal instinct to help the immigrants who would like to come here.

Is there an ‘understanding’ between the people traffickers and the EU?

Am I right or am I wrong in thinking that there must be an  ‘understanding’ between the people traffickers and the EU?  The dinghies bringing refugees and migrants to the small Greek islands just off the coast of Turkey are a better class of dinghy and no longer being beached. The steersman — a trafficker – is taking the dinghy away again for another visit.  Also, every migrant has a lifejacket. Also, there aeems to be a higher proportion of families with very young children.

When the EU foreign ministers announced a month ago that they were going to more heavily patrol the Mediterranean and arrest the traffickers — then invariably referred to pejoratively — I wrote how stupid this decision was.  It would stop the traffickers steering the more expensive type of dinghy with powerful enough engines. They’d use cheaper boats which would be more overloaded as used to be the case early last year, and there’d be many more drownings,

The EU must have realised this. We’ve heard no bad words about the ‘criminal human traffickers’ in the last week or so and none seem to have been arrested.  They appear to now to be treated as business people with whom the EU have made some sort of verbal agreement.

Donald Trump scores in Europe

Trump’s border policy may not be appropriate for America — not yet, anyway — but now, after two years of wrangling, a strict border is now being instituted around the EU.  With a million-a-year migrants on the move to Europe from the Middle East and Africa already, it has been none too soon.

What are the skills of the immigrants?

Within the context of current European political correctness yesterday’s advice of ex-Australia PM Abbott in telling Europe to close its borders completely sounds uncomfortable, not to say brutal.

The fact is, though, there is a potential for many millions more immigrants from countries other than Syria.  Young men — economic migrants only — are already starting to flow into the heart of Europe in their thousands from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and even from some of the \Balkan countries which are already members of the EU and are seeking better-paid jobs in Germany.

How long will it be before ordinary folk in Europe — as they are already doing in Germany and France — start to make their voices heard and produce a revolutionary situation such as Europe hasn’t had since 1848 when pretty well all governments were overthrown one way or another.

Once again, the human instinct for altruism and generosity to the many families of Syria who have suffered from civil war is a strong one.  But there is a stronger one when it comes to it — job protectionism.  Most politicians of any experience already know this — it’s part of their trade — but the ideological civil servants at the heart of the Brussels Commission don’t appear to have the message yet.

Mr Abbot said: “Misguided altruism is leading much of Europe into catastrophic error” He then goes on to say — a sentence I take issue with — “No country or continent can open its borders to all comers without fundamentally weakening itself.”

Whether substantial immigration leads to the weakening or the strengthening of the recipient population depends entirely on the average skill content of the immigrants compared with the recipients . That’s what really needs to be borne in mind.

More drownings in the Mediterranean this coming winter

Government legislation this coming Tuesday will only make sure that there will be more drownings in the Mediterranean this coming winter.  The Border Force will be given powers to arrest suspected traffickers bringing immigrants over to Europe from Turkey, Syria or north Africa.  The result will be that traffickers will stop accompanying their customers and will leave them to fend for themselves in overloaded rubber dinghies with inadequate outboard motors — as they were doing earlier this year.

In the last few months, traffickers have been bringing customers over far more safely than  previously, giving them lifejackets and not crowding the boats too much.  The traffickers can then return with their dinghies and adequate outboard motors — and, of course, for more paying passengers.

Will the European leaders have the courage today?

What is now going on in Europe over the immigration problem has complex mixed agendas on both sides of the argument, but what it essentially boils down to is a tussle between Brussels bureaucrats who, in their own protected environment, are still under the sway of excessive liberal carry-overs from a century ago and politicians who have to keep their eyes over their shoulders at the votes of the broad masses of people who are worried for the long term future of their jobs as automation steadily creeps in.  This is the sort of democracy that neither civil servants nor politicians fully allow for when they talk of the virtues of Western systems of elected governments.

The 28 leaders of the European countries who are meeting today know what a reasonable and practical solution should be but do they have the courage to over-ride the Brussels bureaucrats?

The EU is becoming as dysfunctional as the Middle East

Yesterday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers became an imbroglio.  Four countries — Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — are refusing point-blank to accept quotas of refugees from Syria.

Did the foreign ministers decide that the problem is too big for them and there had to be an emergency meeting — this time of leaders — today?  What can they possibly decide?

The ideologists of the Brussels Commission are pushing one way and the politicians, aware of the growing anger of their electorates — worried for their own jobs in the coming years — are wanting to go in the other direction.  Just like the Greek financial problem — far from resolved and probably never will be — the refugee/economic migrant problem is becoming something that the EU can’t solve.  The EU is proving to be as dysfunctional as the Islamic world in the Middle East.

What about a realistic policy for the EU?

The foreign ministers of 28 EU countries are meeting as I write to decide what to do about the wave of mainly Asian immigrants already upon them — only some of them from Syria now.  Or, rather, only 120,000 of them are on the agenda, about a third of the number already stretched out somewhere along the roads and railways of Europe.  And there’ll be another 120,000 on the roads and the railways between Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq as well as Syria.

Even if they get agreement today to share out 120,000 immigrants among themselves and impose it by a majority verdict, do the larger countries of the EU think that the smaller EU countries of Eastern Europe are going to obey them?  What about a once-and-for-all meeting of EU countries’ leaders and decide on a realistic policy for the EU?

What is Islam?

It is a religious organisation and of different complexions in different countries.  However, exactly like the history of Christianity, or Buddhism, or Hinduism, Islam anywhere today is nothing like it was when its original founder Muhammad was alive, preached and led the movement. As to textual sources, the Qur’an today has become a heavily annotated edition of the original over the centuries just as the original texts of the Bible, Buddhavacana and Sutras have been.

One thing for sure is that Islam today — besides existing in many different varieties — is nothing like it was.  The original Islamic faith, springing forth from Muhammad’s Qur’aysh tribe not only had to defend itself against persecution from other Arab tribes in Saudi Arabia but also from massive occupation waves from Roman and Persian armies which, in fighting each other, swept backwards and forwards over the whole of the Middle East for more than a century.

They were dangerous and chaotic times and other religious faiths besides Islam, such as Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism had a hard time surviving. More often than not in Muhammad’s time they helped one another when persecuted by more powerful forces. Because all these sects were monotheistic, Muhammad saw no reason to treat them as enemies.  He preached reconciliation.  Muslims frequently allied themselves with Jews or with Christians when they needed help and, in turn helped them when necessary.

Islam, as practised by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, exists by causing shock and fear, hating even fellow Muslims such as Shias, never mind Christians or Jews, and is a very different movement from the way Muhammad originally framed it. The jihadis of Iraq and Syria are treated with contempt by the vast majority of Muslims — that is, those larger populations who live in India and Indonesia. Al-Baghdadi’s assumption of Caliph-hood is laughed at by leading Muslim theologians elsewhere in the Middle East.

I’m prompted to write this blog because I’ve been reminded of Christopher Caldwell’s book, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, which created a great stir when published (2009).  According to the New York Times, Caldwell’s argument is that “When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture [meaning Europe] meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by doctrines [meaning al-Baghdadi’s version of Islam] it is the former that changes to suit the latter.”

I disagree. It’s true that Europe, in the throes of great economic and cultural adjustments as we leave the industrial age and enter a period of increasing automation and high cognitive skills (for those who are educated sufficiently), is politically confused.  But it’s still stronger than the ad hoc, anti-scientific terrorists who are so easily promoting fear among the impressionable.  An organisation that can only exist by means of fear is vulnerable to reactive anger at any time.  Just like most of the Caliphs of old, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will not have a long reign. His closest allies, the Sunnis, will probably be the first worms to turn.

What the EU needs to be worried about is not Islam itself, nor even the small number of unstable, impressionable youngsters within them — even though they’re dangerous in the interim —  but the sheer volume of immigration that has now been encouraged by Angela Merkel. Hundreds of thousands more would-be immigrants are now moving in one way or another along a line more than a thousand miles long through Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and onwards and there’ll be hundreds of thousands more starting out until the EU seals its borders. In the coming years, European countries will have enough on its plate with a lack of decently-paid jobs for its own people, never mind millions more immigrants.

Greek negotiations overtaken by refugees

So Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza Party has been returned to power in the latest Greek election with four fewer seats than before.  He’ll still have to form a coalition — probably with the right-wing New Democratic Party as before. The latter strongly believes in Greece becoming independent, and thus in the re-introduction of its old currency, the drachma.  If the talks with the EU don’t result in a write-off for a proportion of Greece’s enormous debts, then Greeks will be a lot nearer taking the sensible independence step.

But the Greek issue, however crucial it may be for the reputation of the EU, may be completely submerged under the Syrian refugee problem, with most EU countries refusing to accept more than nominal numbers, and Hungary and two others refusing to take any at all because they are Muslims. This surely strikes at the ideological roots of the EU far more deeply than the Greek problem ever did.

What is Germany playing at?

Breaking news this evening is that Germany is (temporarily?) closing the border with Austria and suspending trains from there.  There are two views as to why Germany has decided on this.  One is that because Munich is now overwhelmed with the influx of refugees pouring into the city on the trains from Austria, it is refusing to cope with any more unless Berlin starts to distribute the refugees among the other lander — or regions — of Germany.

The other theory is that this is Germany’s way of telling countries like Serbia and Hungary not to keep on sending refugees onwards to Austria without registering them first and deciding which are genuine and which are to be considered economic migrants and to be repatriated.

I’m inclined to think that the first is the real reason.  The question is, however, will the other lander be as welcoming as Munich has been so far?

It’s a guarded welcome

On the front page of my newspaper this morning is a wonderful picture of two boys of three or four years-old, presumably migrants from Syria, in hooded green anoraks and gleefully holding a chocolate bar as they posed for the photographer.

It’s a refreshing change from the usual beautiful young lady that appears these days — fully clad, of course, because the Daily Telegraph is a so-called ‘quality newspaper’.  She’s always good to look at — or they wouldn’t put her there for the male readers, would they?  Its either that or another photo of one of the royals — for the DT is the Conservative Party in cellulosic form (though I don’t buy it for that reason, having big reservations about the Tories).

But back to the boys. Yes, there’s a great deal of altruistic euphoria wishy-washing about Europe these days as wretched families fleeing civil war and sturdy young economic migrants are facing down border police and breaking down fences in their intense desire to reach to get to Germany or any northern European country that will give them a welcome, temporary accommodation and hopefully a job.

Altruism is a strong instinctive emotion that will break out on particular occasions. But we also have a strong instinct for territorial/cultural protection, to protect our jobs and to maintain our normal daily habits and ways.  This will break out soon enough.  An affable German cycling group in Munich, relaxing after a spin, was interviewed by a BBC television man last.  Yes, they welcomed all these migrants . . . m’mm . . . one or two made some guarded diplomatic comments about the “thousands” of them.