Springtime in the Mediterranean: The skies are clear, the waters are calm, and the migrants are drowning. In 2014, the U.S. Border Patrol estimated that 307 people died while being smuggled into the United States from Mexico. So far this year, more than 1,650 people have drowned as they attempted to cross Europe’s most porous and dangerous border, the Mediterranean. In 2014, the Border Patrol “rescued” 509 migrants along the Mexican border. In the third week of April alone, European vessels retrieved 8,500 migrants from the Mediterranean, most of them in the 300-mile stretch between the shores of Libya and Sicily.
Many of the migrants are trafficked out of Africa’s numerous failed states, across the Sahara, and into Libya. Every stage of their journey enriches organized criminals and, in their odyssey’s later stages, Islamist militias too. Smaller numbers of migrants come from Syria. Some are found floating in the water or drifting in dinghies. Others are crammed into rusting pirate ships. All have risked their lives, and many have suffered exploitation and abuse.
The migrants have been drowning quietly for years, but this month, a series of tragedies forced the European Union to acknowledge the crisis, if not to admit its responsibilities. On April 12, 400 Africans drowned when their boat capsized, apparently because they had rushed to one side to greet a rescue ship. On April 16, 40 Africans drowned when their inflatable sank off the Libyan coast. On April 17, Muslim migrants murdered 12 Christians from Ghana and Nigeria by throwing them into the sea. The worst came on April 19. More than 700 people crammed into the lower decks of a 65-foot vessel drowned when it capsized.
Until 2014, Italy policed these waters in a program named, apparently without irony, Our Sea, after the Roman Mare Nostrum. The Italian government suspended the program because of Italy’s chaotic finances, and because other EU nations were unwilling to help. The EU government in Brussels took over and launched Operation Triton, a cheaper and smaller program that patrols only 30 miles from the Italian coast. Although the number of migrants in the first quarter of 2015 was lower than in the first quarter of 2014, the death toll multiplied ten-fold. In Europe’s moral hierarchy, Palestinians rank high, other Arabs low, Africans lower, and African migrants lowest of all.
After the mass drownings of April 19, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, summoned the leaders of the EU states to an emergency summit. For two decades, the EU has tried to control the Mediterranean basin through the Barcelona Process and its spin-offs, the European Neighborhood Policy (2004) and the Union for the Mediterranean (2008). Now, finally facing a genuine pan-Mediterranean crisis, the EU leadership is washing its hands. Even before the summit had convened, EU leaders seemed resolved to return the human and budgetary aspects of the problem to member states.
“I do not expect any quick fix solutions to the root causes of migration,” Tusk declared presidentially, “because there are none.” His foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, bravely asserted that she was not “afraid of showing the limits . . . of the policy-making process.” When Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni complained that Italy has not received an “adequate response” from Brussels, EU spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud protested that there is no “silver bullet” for the migrant problem.
The EU is short of brass bullets, too. It floated the euro before floating a navy. It is the first power in history to offer a major currency without a military guarantee. There is no EU fleet, only the overstretched and underfunded navies of its member states. While the EU combines imperial pretensions with provincial pettiness, its member states behave no better. The Germans wish to manage Greece’s economy but not its borders. The Italians accuse the Greeks of sending migrants to their shores, while themselves shunting migrants into France. The French denounce the Italians, while allowing migrants to camp at the ferry port of Calais so they can leave for Britain. If the EU lacks the means, its members lack the will. Both lack the money.
Eight days after a meeting on a potential free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union last month, two congressmen introduced a bill to influence the process and help prevent economic discrimination against Israel. Called the “U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act” the bill is an effort to counter the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which is lamentably popular in Europe.
Former Texas governor Rick Perry is taking on Russian president Vladimir Putin. The possible presidential candidate says that the "peace and security of the world" depends on how America deals with Russia.
Here's what Perry recommends doing to counter Putin's recent aggression:
Vice President Biden spent about a day and a half in Belgium in early February to meet with various European leaders, but his entourage, security team and other delegation members required up to 209 rooms for up to three weeks surrounding the visit.
Vice President Joe Biden is in Europe today where how spoke out against Vladimir Putin's aggression toward Ukraine.
"Ukraine is fighting for its very survival right now. Russia continues to escalate the conflict by sending mercenaries and tanks and as we euphemistically say in the United States, Little Green Men, without patches in, and very sophisticated special operation soldiers," Biden said at the European Council building in Brussels.
In Athens in mid-January, two weeks before the election that would make 40-year-old engineer Alexis Tsipras Greece’s new prime minister, a bunch of cleaning ladies explained to me why they planned to vote for his party, the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza, for its Greek acronym). We met where they had lived, at least part of the time, for the past 16 months: among tents on the sidewalk in front of the economics ministry in downtown Athens.
The European Parliament has called for the dismemberment of Google, the French want “les Gafa,” as they call Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, reined in, EU regulators are under pressure to get tough with the Americans. And the leaders of Silicon Valley’s non-tax-paying, privacy-invading, dominant tech firms, to use EU descriptives, are surprised. They shouldn’t be.
Only 12 years ago, the Republic of Turkey was correctly seen as the model of a pro-Western Muslim state, and a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. A strong military bond with the Pentagon undergirded broader economic and cultural ties with Americans. And then, starting with the 2002 elections that brought the Justice and Development party (AKP) and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, first as prime minister and now as president, to power, Turkey dramatically changed course.
When it comes to military actions, President Obama likes to declare the end of wars, regardless of whether America’s opponents agree that is the case. When it comes to economic wars, he has no need to declare an end, no need for unilateral disarmament, because he never engages in the first place. Indeed, he does all he can to make our adversaries’ task easier by spiking any guns we might have before they can be fired by Congress, his trade union friends, or other aggrieved parties.
In the late 17th century, times were tough in Scotland. The Stuarts, the Scots’ royal family, had been tossed off the throne of England for a second time, and the country had been excluded from the burgeoning English system of international trade regulated by the Navigation Acts. Even the climate was more miserable than usual: these were the worst years of northern Europe’s “little ice age.”
This week’s referendum on Scottish independence may seem like an obscure, perhaps even Ruritanian quarrel to many Americans, but it has profound implications not just for the U.K. and Europe but also for the United States.
Vladimir Putin’s efforts to establish hegemony over Ukraine may now have reached a decisive point both for the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe and for the NATO alliance. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko warned on August 30 that Russia’s invasion of his country and extensive aid to pro-Moscow separatists could soon “reach the point of no return,” becoming a generalized conflict. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “the situation is increasingly getting out of control.”