The horrific immigrant mess that is unfolding currently in Europe seems to defy explanation and resolution. Boat loads of desperate people are trying in anyway possible to gain entry to any European country. North Africa is only about 100 miles from location in Italy and Syrian refugees can be as little as 10 miles from Greece when they reach the Turkish west coast. With a boat and strong will, Europe is just a short distance away from the destitution they are leaving behind.
Economic migrants have always been a touchy problem with which to deal. How can wealthy countries turn away fellow human beings who have little more than the clothes on their backs? But in general, economic migration does meet fairly strict limits, if only to persuade millions of others not to attempt entry and to cash in on generous social services. Destination countries almost always have generous welfare programs which the immigrants seek. The current flood of refuges is difficult to categorize because so many, while traveling with limited or no funding, are also fleeing war zones and/or political oppression.
In war times, “displaced persons” are not unusual. Neighboring countries often set up camps where these displaced persons wait out the war and quickly return to their original homes as soon as hostilities cease. (Palestinian refugees are one exception and many still live in squalid camps in Lebanon.)
Europe is the preferred destination for the current crop of Syrian refugees. There simply are too many for the limited camps in Turkey and Lebanon. Traveling south through Syria to the Jordanian border is too dangerous and east to Iraq is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. So, the Syrian people who have given up on any reasonable government (Assad or any of the rebels) have decided in mass to flee. Hmmm.
Europe is not one country, however. Italians speak their own language and value customs, food, and everyday way of life that has been handed down for centuries. In their own way, the same can be said for Spain, France, Germany, the UK, and all the other countries that make up Europe. Immigrants from Africa don’t look the same as most Europeans and those from Syria don’t have the same religions (and often food preferences). In essence, these immigrants are not the same as Europeans, separately or collectively. But given this tough choice, Europeans seems to favor hard working Syrians.
Consequently, as each European country deals with Syrian refugees who land on their doorstep, the reception these refugees receive varies based upon the wealth of the country. Overall, however, it seems Europe would prefer there were not so many immigrants. Europe, however, appears paralyzed and unable to act except as individual countries.
We are now learning from the GOP Presidential hopefuls that the entire Syrian refugee mess is attributable to President Obama, and dare I say, “his failed policies”. How these candidates can muster the audacity to say such things is amazing. If they would say such things now, just imagine what they might say if elected? (How about Iraq has WMD and we must remove them?)
Following these candidates logic, I assume they would have preferred the US to either (1) invaded Syria with US troops and toppled the Assad regime, or (2) heavily armed and financially supported rebel forces (loyal to the west) against Syrian government troops. Hmmm.
The first case involving US intervention would have created its own set of refugees and almost certainly would have generated new opposition groups even if the US were successful in over throwing Assad. Another Vietnam? How about another Iraq?
The second case of using a surrogate presumes the US had the ability to pick correctly the least evil or least corrupt insurgent group. Hmmm. In addition, the second case would lead to a protracted civil war where the flow of refugees would rival what we are seeing now.
Hmmm. What are these candidates smoking?
The US is no position to advise Europe on how to deal with large scale immigration given its handling of Mexican undocumented residents. The GOP is in an even worse position to advise upon what should have been done in Syria’s Arab Spring, especially given the Iraq invasion and occupation debacle.
Maybe the candidates are too busy talking and have too little time to think about what they are saying.