Well, so much for the one-post-a-week plan. I just can't help myself. You don't associate prudent, practical Germans with the act of sleepwalking into a crisis, but that seems to be what they're doing right now. It's a fascinating new experience for me. In any case, all my immigration posts will be tagged as such, so you can ignore them if you wish.
A while ago I jotted down an 11-point sketch for handling the migrant crisis. Nothing particularly original, but I thought it might stimulate some debate. Some readers surely found may plan Draconian and cold-hearted. Yet, as the migrant crisis keeps spiraling out of control (headline in the Sueddeutsche yesterday: "Increasing Signs of a Crisis" (g)), and costs mount into the dozens of billions of Euros, my modest proposals are quickly becoming the mainstream consensus.
A few examples:
Me, August 30: "The EU should build a high-tech fence around its external borders with non-EU nations."
Veteran Swedish diplomat and former Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (strong opponent of the Iraq War), yesterday: '"[W]e have to find a coherent European response. Controlling the outer border of Schengen is vital to the system,” he said, referring to the passport-free zone within Europe. “It is uncomfortable but necessary, and it needs to be done.'"
Me, August 30: "All states within Europe, perhaps with the exception of Belarus, should be declared safe countries of origin. All migrants from Albania, Kosovo, etc. should be swiftly deported unless they can qualify for refugee status...."
Germany's leading grand coalition, policy reform proposals agreed yesterday (g): Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia will be declared secure countries of origin, immigrants from these countries will be swiftly deported, once their asylum claims are denied their cash handouts and in-kind support will be significantly reduced.
Seems like a weekend in which 20,000 refugees arrived in Germany (as many as Britain has pledged to take in 5 years), priorities quickly snapped into place. Send those buses brimming with Bogdans barreling back to the Balkans, aber schnell!
In other news, the right-wing anti-immigrant party Sweden Democrats is now the most popular party in Sweden, with 25% of the vote. This may have something to do with the fact that two Eritrean asylum seekers have recently been charged with stabbing a Swedish mother and her son to death in a terrifying random attack in an IKEA store, and asylum seekers have also been charged with the gang-rape of a Swedish woman in the town of Ludvika.
One might wonder whether Sweden is doing a responsible job of screening and monitoring asylum seekers to protect its citizens.
In any case, an official of Sweden's new most popular political party enthused: "It’s a tremendous breakthrough for us!" Until this time, mainstream Swedish parties have enforced a cordon sanitaire policy, refusing to form coalitions with the untouchable 'populist' Sweden Democrats. I wonder how that's going to work if they continue to be the single most popular party in the country.
And speaking of democracy, the leaders of Germany's grand coalition demanded a 'national act of strength' (Kraftakt) of Germans to handle the influx of hundreds of thousands of new migrants. They didn't mention that, over the years, these hundreds of thousands will swell to millions due to chain migration. They compared this massive national challenge to the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s. This trope was enthusiastically taken up by dozens of newspaper commentators calling on Germans to fundamentally re-assess their idea of what German society is and to prepare for 'huge new challenges' that will last for 'generations to come'. Am I the only one who finds this sort of language a bit ominous?
Also, these commentators are missing a rather fundamental distinction. The economic miracle and re-unification were national projects taken on by Germans, for Germans, with overwhelming popular approval from the German electorate (70% (g) were for re-unification in 1990). Current poll numbers show a similar level of support right now for providing immediate assistance to refugees. But after the initial rush of hospitality is over, people are going to start asking what was the precise democratic legitimacy behind the policy of (1) violating EU law by refusing to enforce the Dublin accords; which (2) let hundreds of thousands of completely unknown foreigners into the country; which (3) will impose huge and unknowable burdens on Germany for 'generations' to come.
Seems like a policy this important should be approved in advance by a majority of the population after a thorough debate, should it not?