Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #864 Interview with Peter Levenda about “Ratline” and Other Books

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by late spring of 2015. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more) contains FTR #850.  

WFMU-FM is podcasting For The Record–You can subscribe to the podcast HERE.

You can subscribe to e-mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE

You can subscribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to the comments made on programs and posts–an excellent source of information in, and of, itself HERE.

This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Introduction: Supplementing previous discussions with Peter Levenda about his landmark book The Hitler Legacy, we once again speak with Peter about his work, focusing primarily on his “prequel,” Ratline.

Immigration has dominated the news recently, with the flood of refugees from the wars in the Middle East overwhelming European infrastructure as the phenomenon dominates political debate and Donald Trump capitalizes on anti-immigrant xenophobia to lead the field of presumptive GOP Presidential candidates. In The Hitler LegacyPeter noted anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia as part of “The Hitler Legacy.”

Fear of “the other” has been a staple of fascist thought and is dominating much of the political discourse on both sides of the Atlantic.

Turning to what might be described as the “prequel” to The Hitler Legacy, we highlight Ratline. Dealing with the story of the mysterious Dr. Anton Poch, we analyze the disappearance of Adolf Hitler.

When one discusses Hitler’s escape at the end of the war, one is generally viewed as aberrant–a conspiracy nut. Peter highlights the curious behavior of the Soviets with regard to Hitler’s corpse–burying and reburying “Hitler’s remains” time and again in the months following V-E Day.

Eventually, the remains were scientifically proved NOT to be those of Hitler, which calls into question the motive for Soviet behavior and the behavior of the Allies in the aftermath of the war.

The official version of Hitler’s death is The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Roper. Trevor-Roper was an agent for MI6 (British intelligence) at the time and the writing and publication of his book was, in and of itself, an intelligence operation–a “psy-op” called Operation Nursery.

This sets the background against which the mysterious Dr. Anton Poch’s situation must be evaluated. (We discuss Poch in FTR #’s 845846.)

It was crafted to counteract Soviet charges that Hitler was alive and had gone over to the West, an allegation buttressed by information in Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler.

Program Highlights Include:

  • Analysis of the flight of the mysterious Dr. Poch.
  • Review of Father Draganovic and the significance of his presence in the journal of Dr. Poch.
  • Comparison of Operation Nursery with the Warren Report.
  • Discussion of Paul Leverkuhn, a Nazi spy who was the head of the European Union when he attended the first Bilderberg meeting.
  • Mr. Emory’s discussion of the term “migrant” to describe the desperate political refugees flooding into Europe. It is xenophobic, as though some sort of wandering parasites were being described, not people fleeing for their lives.

1. Immigration has dominated the news recently, with the flood of refugees from the wars in the Middle East overwhelming European infrastructure as the phenomenon dominates political debate and Donald Trump capitalizes on anti-immigrant xenophobia to lead the field of presumptive GOP Presidential candidates.

In The Hitler Legacy, Peter noted anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia as part of “The Hitler Legacy.”

The Hitler Legacy by Peter Levenda; IBIS Press [HC]; Copyright 2014 by Peter Levenda; ISBN 978-0-89254-210-9; p. 315.

. . . Xenophobia is at an all-time high in Europe and increasingly in America. The Internet has provided new and improved means of communication. . . .

As the political life of every country becomes more and more polarized between “right” and “left,” the men of ODESSA can only laugh at our discomfort. . . .

2. Underscoring the Nazi roots of the EU and EMU, we review the presence of Third Reich alumnus and spy Paul Leverkuhn, who became head of the EU in the early 1950’s.

Ratline: Soviet Spies, Nazi Priests and the Disappearance of Adolf Hitler by Peter Levenda; Ibis Press [HC]; Copyright 2012 by Peter Levenda; ISBN 978-0-89254-170-6; pp. 160-161.

. . . . Paul Leverkuhn (1893-1960)–a lifelong diplomat, spy, and banker, Leverkuhn was also a devoted Nazi who joined the Party before the war began and who held various important posts in Germany during both World Wars. He had an extensive background running Abwehr operations in Turkey, and according to the CIA report referenced above he also ran a spy network after the war “based on Lebanon and extending into the Middle East.” Leverkuhn for the benefit of those with a conspiratorial frame of mind, was also in attendance at the very first Bilderberger meeting in 1954as president of the European Union [!–D.E.]. It should be pointed out that this meeting took place four years before the CIA report was written claiming that Leverkuhn was running agents in the Middle East. . . .

3. Next, Peter reviews the bizarre handling of “Hitler’s corpse” by the Soviet security services over the years and the proof that the remains were NOT those of Hitler.

4. Before delving into the substance of Ratline, we briefly touch on the working hypothesis of “Grey Wolf,” the focal point of FTR #791. The authors posit that the key players in the realization of Aktion Feurland–the code-name for the operation facilitating Hitler’s escape–were Allen Dulles on the Allied side and Martin Bormann for the Third Reich. Centered on a quid pro quo arrangement, the authors hypothesize that Aktion Feurland involved the transfer of Nazi technology to the U.S. and the West (known as Project Paperclip) and the saving of priceless works of art from destruction.

In that context, we note that thousands of documents on both sides of the Atlantic dealing with Hitler’s postwar whereabouts are still classified!

Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams; Sterling [HC]; Copyright 2011 by Simon Dunstan, Gerrard Williams and Spitfire Recovery Ltd.; ISBN 978-1-4027-8139-1; p. 242.

. . . . During this period [the late 1940’s], the FBI was taking reports of Hitler being in Latin America very seriously. Thousands of documents pertaining to Hitler from these years are  still classified as Top Secret on both sides of the Atlantic; nevertheless, and despite the very heavy censorship of the few files released into the public domain, some information can be gleaned. . . .

 5. The official version of Hitler’s death is The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Roper. Trevor-Roper was an agent for MI6 (British intelligence) at the time and the writing and publication of his book was, in and of itself, an intelligence operation–a “psy-op” called Operation Nursery.

It was crafted to counteract Soviet charges that Hitler was alive and had gone over to the West (the possibility that Soviet intelligence may have known of Aktion Feurland is something to be contemplated.

Ratline: Soviet Spies, Nazi Priests and the Disappearance of Adolf Hitler by Peter Levenda; Ibis Press [HC]; Copyright 2012 by Peter Levenda; ISBN 978-0-89254-170-6; pp. 23-25.

A British intelligence officer, Hugh ˇTrevor-Roper (1914-2003) crafted the narrative concerning Hitler’s ultimate fate, beginning in September 1945 on a mission–called Operation Nursery–from the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6. This intelligence operation is the source of the story we have all been told since then. It is the authoritative version. It is based on a handful of interviews with former members of Hitler’s personal stuff, only some of whom served in the bunker up until the fall of Berlin in May, 1945. This eventually became Trevor-Roper’s best-welling book entitled The Last Days of Hitler. It stands today as the definitive account of Hitler’s alleged suicide, even though there are barely thirty-live pages in the original edition that deal directly with the death itself. The reason for this is simple: there was no forensic evidence to work from. There were only statements of eyewitnesses, all of whom were Nazis and most of whom were in the SS. . . .

. . . . If one were to take all the testimony of all of the witnesses who have since written books or who have left behind transcripts of their interrogations by British, American and Russian intelligence officers, and compared them to each other we would soon begin to realize that there is virtually no consensus on critical points of the story. . . .

. . . . Whom to believe? Which version is really authoritative?

That depends on the agenda you wish to promote. History was being written by the victors to satisfy intelligence objectives and not to illuminate this dark matter of defeat and violent death. This was war, and the Allied forces were themselves about to discover that their respective agendas did not match. The Soviets had one set of goals in mind at the end of the conflict, and the Americans another. And the British another still. . . .

. . . . The choice of Trevor-Roper for the politically-sensitive task of determining Hitler’s fate would seem curious if not for the fact that his superior, Brigadier Dick White (later to become director of MI6), intended that a narrative be crafted that would counter the effects of Soviet insistence that Hitler was still alive. What was required ws not the services of a lawyer or a scientist building a legal case from evidence but the services of someone who could build a historical text from odd bits of documents and dubious testimony, hobbled together with an eye towards presenting a single point of view. In other words, the mission objective of Trevor-Roper in Operation Nursery was a foregone one: to disprove Soviet statements that Hitler was still alive. Thus, it had to begin with the premise (presented as fact) that Hitler was dead and had committed suicide in the bunker on April 30, 1945, and then be worked backward from there. No other interpretation or presentation was acceptable. All he had to do was to collect enough “eyewitness” testimony–in German, a language he did not understand–that supported (or at least did not contradict) this version of evens, and compile them into a neat story that tied together all the loose ends that then would stand as the official version. The official British version. . . .

6. We briefly note a comparison of “Operation Nursery” with the Warren Report and the Commission that crafted it (Allen Dulles and John J. McCloy being part of the commission. CORRECTION: Winnacker did not write the Warren Report, apparently.

7. Returning to a subject covered in FTR #’s 845, 846, we briefly review the flight of the “Pochs” and the remarkable occurrences that transpired in Indonesia surrounding Poch/Hitler.






9 comments for “FTR #864 Interview with Peter Levenda about “Ratline” and Other Books”

  1. Following Croatia’s declaration that it could no longer take any refugees last week, the government is now demanding that Greece stop allowing “migrants” (who just happen to be fleeing for their lives) to leave Greece’s refugee camps that Greece already can’t afford. It’s the latest unpleasant, if unsurprising, development in this mega-disaster. The longer you play twisted games, like ‘refugee hot potato’, the more everyone’s tempers flare…:

    Croatia says wants Greece to stop sending migrants to rest of Europe

    OPATOVAC, Croatia | By Aleksandar Vasovic

    Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:22am EDT

    Croatia will demand that Greece stop moving migrants from the Middle East on to the rest of Europe, Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said on Monday.

    EU interior ministers are to meet on Tuesday in an attempt to find a solution to Europe’s biggest migrant crisis since World War Two, with almost half a million asylum seekers reaching its territory this year.

    “The flow of migrants from Greece must be stopped. I will seek that at tomorrow’s meeting of EU interior ministers,” Ostojic told reporters at the Opatovac camp where migrants are being housed near the eastern town of Tovarnik.

    “It is absolutely unacceptable to have Greece emptying its refugee camps and sending people towards Croatia via Macedonia and Serbia,” Ostojic added.

    Around 29,000 people, mostly from Syria, have arrived in Croatia from Serbia in the past week after trekking northwards through the Balkans from Greece en route to wealthier country in the west and north of the European Union. Croatia is a member of the EU but not part of its Schengen zone of borderless travel.

    Greece has been the first point of entry to the EU for many migrants as it borders Turkey, to which millions have fled from wars in neighboring Syria and Iraq, but says it cannot cope with the influx given its small size and severe financial woes.

    An official of the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, told Reuters there were currently around 2,000 people inside the Opatovac camp, a fenced former industrial plant where around 150 olive-colored, military-style tents have been set up.

    “On the average there are around 100 people entering (Croatia) per hour,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said.

    “This is good…we will rest here and will go to Finland from here,” said Osama, a refugee from the Iraqi city of Mosul.” He had travelled with three cousins for more than four weeks. “We have no money, that’s why we travel slow, we walked a lot.”

    Asked why he was headed to Finland, Osama replied: “It is far away from Iraq and the Islamic State (insurgents); no war there”. Islamic State captured Mosul in June 2014.

    So Croatia has moved solidly into the “get off my lawn!” camp as Europe and the world continues flailing in the face of one of the most highly predictable humanitarian crises we’ve seen in years. How this gets resolved is unclear, but it’s worth noting that even if Greece had the resources to prevent the refugees from leaving Greece, that probably wouldn’t be a good or humane idea unless Greece was also given the resources to build them refugee camps that aren’t horribly under-resourced and over-crowded on islands not nearly large enough to hold them all and only a short boat ride from the 2 million Syrian refugees in Turkey:

    UPDATE 2-Greece seeks EU aid as it struggles to cope with migrant crisis

    * Greece requests EU humanitarian aid, staff

    * Minister says situation “wretched” on Lesbos

    * Says more ships to bring refugees to Greek mainland (Adds quotes, details, rescue operation)

    By Karolina Tagaris
    Mon Sep 7, 2015 3:03pm EDT

    ATHENS, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Greece asked the European Union for aid on Monday to prevent it being overwhelmed by refugees, as a minister said arrivals on Lesbos had swollen to three times as many as the island could handle.

    Its economy already stretched close to breaking point, Greece is struggling to cope with thousands of people, mainly from Syria, fleeing poverty and war.

    Interim Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said 15,000 to 18,000 refugees were on Lesbos, an island he said could cope with 4,000-5,000. “The situation is wretched,” he told state TV.

    Tensions have flared on the islands of Lesbos and Kos, short boat journeys from Turkey where there are some 2 million Syrian refugees.

    The International Rescue Committee said protests on the streets of Lesbos were putting the lives and safety of refugees stranded on the island at risk.

    “We are truly in the midst of a humanitarian disaster,” said Kirk Day, the aid agency’s field director on the island.

    He said many refugees had been stuck on the island for weeks, people were sleeping rough and hygiene was rapidly declining.

    “None of these things can be addressed with this many people here … The only way forward is to move these people off the island immediately,” Day said.

    Greece earlier asked the EU to activate its crisis-response body to provide staff, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, clothes and equipment, the Interior Ministry said.

    It has also applied to the EU Commission for 9.6 million euros in emergency funding to bolster existing reception operations on the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Kos and in the Turkish border region of Evros, and to help set up a new centre on the island of Chios.

    The health ministry said it had sent extra medical staff to Lesbos and Kos and extended the operating hours of health centres on the islands.

    Earlier on Monday, Greece requested that the EU civil protection mechanism be activated “in order to substantially strengthen the efforts … to manage a volatile situation”.

    The mechanism coordinates the bloc’s humanitarian aid efforts, channeling aid and sending special teams with equipment to disaster areas. It has previously helped Greece fight forest fires.
    On Friday, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos have already promised Athens 33 million euros ($36.8 million) to help it tackle the crisis.

    As we can see, Greece isn’t exactly in a great position to deal with the tens of thousands of refugees already overflowing its islands, let alone the 2 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. And unless it gets some very serious EU aid, it’s very unclear how Greece is going to be able to anything other than the emergency management it’s already doing.

    And as the article below points out, that EU assistance might be coming. But it may not be the kind of assistance Greece wants, as it has a rather ‘Troikan’ ring to it: Greece will get help form the EU managing its boarders possibly by handing its border responsibilities over to the EU:

    The Financial Times
    EU eyes bigger role at Greece’s borders to manage refugee influx

    Peter Spiegel and Duncan Robinson in Brussels and James Politi in Rome
    September 21, 2015 7:20 pm

    Greece’s newly re-elected government will come under intense pressure on Wednesday to request wide-ranging EU aid to manage a massive influx of refugees, a move some officials see as the first step towards ceding control of its borders to EU authorities.

    The push will be made when Alexis Tsipras attends a high-stakes summit in Brussels, two days after being sworn in for a second term as prime minister. It is being sought by central and eastern European countries demanding better control of Greece’s borders in return for supporting a plan to relocate 160,000 refugees.

    “What people are telling us is ‘we are ready to relocate [migrants], but we need a rock-solid system of registering them when they arrive’,” said one senior EU official involved in the talks.

    Greece, with its sprawling islands and cash-strapped government, has become the entry point tens of thousands of migrants to the EU from nearby Turkey and has failed to cope.

    However, any move to transfer de facto control of Greece’s borders to Brussels could run into political resistance in Athens, where unpopular international bailouts have already aroused resentment of outsiders trampling on its sovereignty. It is also unclear whether the EU institutions would have the capacity to take on the task.

    Under Mr Tsipras’s previous government, migration policy was almost an afterthought amid constant brinkmanship over the country’s fiscal crisis. But EU officials are hopeful that Athens will keep the interim government’s acting immigration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, an experienced hand at international crises who has worked closely with EU authorities to try to re-establish order in Greece’s islands.

    Following a tense EU summit on migration in June, Italy agreed to set up five “hot spots” at Italian ports receiving migrants, with EU officials helping Italian authorities identify and process immigrants.

    But the Italian official said: “It’s not with two more people in Lampedusa that you resolve the problem.” Italy and Greece have come under pressure from other EU member states for allowing too many refugees to move north without being identified and fingerprinted, making it easier for them to successfully seek asylum in northern European countries. “For some countries it’s a key issue,” the Italian official said, adding that if it helped bring them around to the concept of “shared responsibility”, so be it.

    Greece’s interim government issued a plea for European help during a meeting of EU interior ministers last week. But the interim government in Athens did not have the authority to reach a detailed agreement with Brussels on the scale and breadth of the assistance programme, which will now be left to Mr Tsipras to weigh.

    Plans for greater control over Europe’s borders have long been pushed by the European Commission, whose president Jean-Claude Juncker called for a “fully operational European border and coast guard” in a speech earlier this month.

    While the commission is forging ahead with the plan, some officials are sceptical about how long it will take to set up such a body. “It took the Americans 150 years to set up the FBI,” noted one diplomat.

    On Wednesday, the commission is set to censure a host of countries — including Greece and Italy — for failing to process incoming migrants properly, the same day that heads of government arrive in Brussels for a hastily arranged summit on the refugee crisis.

    Could Greece, and maybe Italy, cede some border controls while the EU sets up a new coast guard? And is this going to start applying to all EU members? We’ll see but plans are certainly in the works but another round of emergency pooling of national sovereignty might be about to take place for the EU. It will probably be too little, too late given the urgency of the situation, but since this crisis doesn’t look like it’s going to end soon we could still see some sort of plan for a new EU coast guard in the Mediterranean emerge eventually.

    In related news, the Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris, has his “refugee nation” Greek island already picked out and if you want to own stock in his new island refugee nation, feel free to make a donation:

    Egyptian billionaire: I found the island I want to buy for refugees
    By Ivana Kottaso

    An Egyptian billionaire’s offer to buy an island for refugees is closer to becoming reality.

    Naguib Sawiris, one of the region’s wealthiest men, said he has identified two privately owned Greek islands that would be well-suited for the project. “We have corresponded with their owners and expressed our interest to go into negotiation with them,” Sawiris said in a statement.

    His idea to create a safe haven for the refugees was first branded as ridiculous by some, but Sawiris said he has received “tons of expressions of interest” from potential donors.

    “I’ll make a small port or marina for the boats to land there. I’ll employ the people to build their own homes, their schools, a hospital, a university, a hotel,” he said, adding he could employ between 100,000 and 200,000 refugees.

    Sawiris, the chief executive of telecom group Orascom TMT, said he would name the place “Aylan Island,” in the memory of the Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, who drowned earlier this month trying to reach Europe with his family.

    Photos of his lifeless body washing ashore in Turkey sparked a wave of solidarity and outrage over how Europe has been handling the refugee crisis. “It’s the picture of Aylan that woke me up,” Sawiris told CNN. “I said — I cannot just sit like that and just do nothing, and pretend it’s not my problem.”

    He is hoping to get more donations towards the project by setting up a joint stock company with $100 million initial capital. “Anyone who will donate will get share in the company, thus becoming a partner in the island and in the project,” he said. “This way, any money put in will not be completely lost, as the asset (the island) will remain,” he added.

    Sawiris said he is now seeking the Greek government’s permission to go ahead with the project. Greek authorities said they have yet to receive a formal request.

    Sawiris said he was also approached by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the world’s leading body helping refugees, in order to discuss other ways of possible cooperation.

    “Anyone who will donate will get share in the company, thus becoming a partner in the island and in the project…This way, any money put in will not be completely lost, as the asset (the island) will remain.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2015, 6:23 pm
  2. One of the biggest questions raised by all of the new fiscal constraints, like the Fiscal Compact, that the eurozone and larger EU has imposed on itself as part of the collective response to Europe’s financial/debt crisis is how flexible will the budget rules actually be in the face of a serious humanitarian emergency that requires a violation of those budget rules.

    Considering that the austerity-driven responses to the eurozone crisis have, themselves, created all sort of domestic humanitarian crises with little sympathy from the pro-austerity governments, it might be tempting to assume that budget constraints with win out over humanitarian needs. But in the case of the current Syrian refugee crisis which is far more severe, deprioritizing humanitarian concerns may not be so easy. The world is watching. At the same, this is the New Europe we’re talking about here, so where urgent humanitarian needs fall within the hierarchy of New Europe’s priorities is sort of an open question at this point:

    Ballooning refugee costs threaten Germany’s cherished budget goals
    BERLIN | By Matthias Sobolewski
    Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:01am EDT

    The unexpected cost of looking after a record influx of refugees in Germany could scupper Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s cherished goal of achieving a balanced budget for the next five years, coalition sources said on Thursday.

    Germany is shouldering most of the burden of the continent’s biggest refugee crisis since World War Two and expects at least 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone.

    But its generosity comes at a cost. Local authorities in Europe’s largest economy are clamoring for cash to house, care for and integrate asylum seekers fleeing wars in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Federal government spending on benefits is also likely to rise.

    There may also be a political cost. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-left coalition, which has preached fiscal discipline to euro zone countries in the last five years, has promised to balance the budget from this year through 2019.

    Schaeuble has even boasted about achieving a ‘schwarze Null’ or black zero, meaning a balanced budget, for the first time since 1969 in 2014 – a year earlier than planned – thanks to strong tax revenues and low interest rates.

    Berlin is on track to achieve this goal again this year but the long term aim of no new net borrowing is at risk.

    No-one can put a figure on the total cost of the refugee crisis but some experts think it could add up to around 9 billion euros next year, especially if the number of refugees exceeds current forecasts, as seems likely.

    In addition to 1 billion euros put aside for 2015, coalition members say 6 billion euros could be freed up next year.

    Half would go to federal states and local authorities which are struggling to provide basic care for people who have risked their lives in long journeys to Europe. The rest would help pay for welfare costs such as unemployment benefits.

    But several coalition sources say the federal states and local authorities will need nearer 6 billion euros and that the total could rise to 9 billion euros.

    “(Even) that is rather a conservative estimate,” said one coalition source.

    Among Schaeuble’s conservatives, the ‘schwarze Null’ is something of a holy grail. He has said he wants to finance the refugee crisis without net new borrowing if possible.

    But if he is to stick to the goal, Schaeuble may face a stark choice between raising taxes – anathema to most conservatives, or imposing spending cuts – unacceptable to the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power in Merkel’s coalition.

    The SPD has dismissed talk of a ‘mini austerity package’ that would force ministries to save 500 million euros in 2016.

    “We are facing a historic challenge that we won’t do justice to with bean-counting,” SPD General Secretary Yasmin Fahimi told Der Spiegel Online.

    “We are facing a historic challenge that we won’t do justice to with bean-counting,” SPD General Secretary Yasmin Fahimi told Der Spiegel Online. But as we just saw, her counterparts in the CDU may not share her priorities, especially if they end up deprioritizing the much cherished (and irresponsible, given the circumstance) balanced budget.

    So what’s going to win? Doing justice in the face of a historic challenge? The prized ‘schwarze Null’? Or how about a new round of budget-cutting ‘mini-austerity’ that allows for both additional spending on refugees and the ‘schwarze Null’? Yes, the SPD has already dismissed that last option, but when you listen to what the German finance ministry on this top, a new round of ‘mini-austerity’ is basically the only option left because, at least based on the ministry’s statements, the refugees will indeed be given budgetary priority. But that’s not going to stop a balanced budget:


    German finance ministry – Still targeting balanced budget despite refugee costs

    Reuters – Sun, Sep 20, 2015 23:19 BST

    BERLIN, Sept 21 (Reuters) – – Germany still aims to achieve a balanced budget this year and next despite ballooning costs for a record-breaking influx of refugees, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.

    Coping with the flood of refugees is the main priority of the government, and ministers must subordinate any additional spending wishes to that, Deputy Finance Minister Thomas Steffen said in the ministry’s latest monthly report.

    Solid finances are needed if any government is to be able to react to unexpected challenges such as the refugee crisis, Steffen added.

    “That’s why the government still aims to achieve a balanced budget this year and next, despite the additional budgetary pressures,” he said.

    Coalition sources told Reuters on Thursday that the unexpected cost of looking after the refugees might scupper Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s cherished goal of achieving a balanced budget for the next five years.

    The BGA trade body said it expects Germany to post another export record this year while the Munich-based Ifo think-tank predicts that the current account surplus to hit a new record of 250 billion euros this year.

    Yes, the ‘schwarze Null’ is apparently non-negotiable, but, according to the finance ministry, coping with the flood of refugees is the main priority of the government, and ministers must subordinate any additional spending wishes to that.

    And so, the reasoning goes, in order to deal with unexpected challenges like a refugee crisis, Germany needs very solid finances and therefore balancing Germany’s budget next year is important if Germany is going to be able to deal with unexpected crises…despite the fact that the refugee crisis is no longer “unexpected” but actually happening now and with no end in sight and despite the fact that Germany is set to hit a record trade surplus this year. Don’t think about it too hard:

    Solid finances are needed if any government is to be able to react to unexpected challenges such as the refugee crisis, Steffen added.

    “That’s why the government still aims to achieve a balanced budget this year and next, despite the additional budgetary pressures,” he said.

    The BGA trade body said it expects Germany to post another export record this year while the Munich-based Ifo think-tank predicts that the current account surplus to hit a new record of 250 billion euros this year.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 22, 2015, 5:30 pm
  3. According to a recent poll, 41 percent of Americans support building a wall with Mexico…and Canada:

    Bloomberg Politics
    Oh Canada! Four in 10 Americans Want Wall on Northern Border
    What’s good for Mexico should be good for neighbors to the north, they reason.

    John McCormick
    Arit John
    September 24, 2015 — 4:00 AM CDT

    Failed Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker may feel some vindication in this number: 41 percent of Americans say that if a wall is built along the Mexican border, one should also be erected on the Canadian one. And yes, the same percentage favors a wall erected along the nation’s southern border.

    The latest Bloomberg Politics poll also shows that immigration, a flashpoint in the 2016 presidential campaign thanks in large point to the incendiary rhetoric of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, is an issue that stirs strong emotions among Americans, some of them contradictory. While four in ten Americans favor border walls, overwhelming majorities also express positive feelings about immigration: 80 percent agree the U.S. economy has thrived historically because of new arrivals and 70 percent expressed approval for the efforts of Pope Francis to encourage nations to be more welcoming of immigrants.

    It was a point the pontiff made almost immediately upon arriving in the U.S., telling a crowd at the White House: “As a son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.”

    Trump has called for a physical wall to be completed along the border with Mexico, a concept that 41 percent of Americans support and 55 percent oppose; 56 percent disagree with the idea of building a wall along the Canadian border, a notion that became one of the gaffes that hurt Walker’s candidacy, which the Wisconsin governor ended earlier this week. After initially indicating that he thought the idea was worth additional study, Walker later clarified that he didn’t actually want to build a physical wall along the more than 5,000-mile border.

    Jake Crosan, 73, a retired truck driver from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is someone who does favor a wall along the Canadian border, if one is built along the southern border.

    “If you cut off one, they’re going to come in the other way,” said Crosan, a Trump supporter. “It’s desolate up there in some places on the Canadian border and they’ve gotta do something up there to stop them from coming in.”

    Asked if he worried of the cost of such a project, Crosan said it would be a good investment for the government and American people. “The money we would save by keeping the illegals out would pay for itself,” he said. “They’re taking our jobs, and the more people we get back to work, they pay taxes. It’ll pay for itself.”

    Among other immigration proposals tested, the greatest support recorded was for requiring businesses to verify the immigration status of new hires, with 75 percent backing this approach.

    The next most popular proposal, winning the backing of 47 percent of Americans: issuing visas granting permanent residency to foreign-born students educated in the U.S. so that they can stay and work after graduation. Closely following was the 44 percent who favor streamlining the process for employers to hire the seasonal and permanent employees they need when Americans are not filling vacancies.

    A slim majority of Americans—54 percent—agree with this statement: “Immigration is a national security concern, so legal and illegal immigration should be decreased.”

    The poll shows Americans are divided on the question of whether immigrants create jobs, with 48 percent agreeing with the statement that the U.S. needs more jobs and should “selectively encourage more legal immigration,” while 46 percent disagree.

    Just 30 percent say American culture will be lost if the U.S. continues to take in immigrants, while 67 percent disagree with that sentiment. Among registered Republican and those who lean Republican, 57 percent disagree, while 77 percent of Democrats disagree American culture will be lost.

    Paul Emel, 38, a shop foreman in a Kansas glass factory, supports Trump in part because of his views on immigration.

    “It’s not all the foreigners that bother me,” he said. “It’s the foreigners that get in the welfare line and the ones that hate America. They get in the welfare line and say we owe them everything and if you don’t agree with me you need to have your head chopped off.”

    The poll of 1,001 U.S. adults was conducted from Sept. 18-21 by West Des Moines-based Selzer & Co. The margin of error on the full sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    “It’s not all the foreigners that bother me…It’s the foreigners that get in the welfare line and the ones that hate America. They get in the welfare line and say we owe them everything and if you don’t agree with me you need to have your head chopped off.”
    It sounds like the “Welfare Queen” myth is in the process of getting updated to include murderous intent for the contemporary undocumented immigrant national freak out (Well, ok, sort of updated).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 24, 2015, 2:11 pm
  4. A new EU poll across seven member states (UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Denmark) was just conducted on public attitudes on what the EU should be doing to help the refugees. The good news is that there’s strong support for doing something to help the refugees. The bad news, especially for the refugees, is that the support appears to be mostly for doing things to help the refugees that doesn’t actually involve giving them refuge:

    The Guardian
    Europeans feel a duty to help refugees – but not in their own countries

    Poll finds less than 50% of voters in UK, France and Netherlands are in favour of sharing out refugees, compared with 80% of Germans and Italians

    Alberto Nardelli

    Friday 30 October 2015 09.37 EDT

    Most voters in western Europe believe the European Union has a duty to help those fleeing war – as long as it is not their country being asked to welcome them.

    According to a poll carried out by Ifop in seven EU member states, entitled “Europeans face the migrant crisis”, a majority in each country feel Europe has a duty to help those trying to escape conflict and misery.

    But when it comes to welcoming refugees into their own countries, voters in western Europe are divided.

    Nearly 80% of Germans and Italians are in favour of plans to relocate tens of thousands of refugees across Europe and for the scheme to include their respective countries, compared with less than half people in the UK, France and the Netherlands.

    The poll notes stark differences between left-leaning and right-leaning voters in the different countries.

    These are particularly evident in France and Denmark, where 70% and 81% of left-leaning voters have a favourable view of the EU’s relocation plans, compared with 29% and 37% respectively of voters on the right.

    The survey provides various reasons to explain the contrast in views and the discrepancies between the seven countries.

    It notes that only a majority in Germany believes welcoming refugees is an opportunity. This compares to roughly a third of voters in Britain, Italy, Denmark and Spain, and a fifth of voters in France and the Netherlands.

    Similarly, only a majority in Germany (69%) and Denmark (53%) feel their country has the economic means necessary to welcome refugees.

    Most voters, with the exception of those in Spain and Germany, believe their respective countries already have too many immigrants and cannot cope with welcoming more.

    The poll also finds a strong correlation between people’s attitudes to immigration and their perception of refugees’ qualifications. Those who believe refugees have poor qualifications and would struggle to integrate take a more negative attitude.

    There appears to be a weaker correlation between voters’ attitudes and the perception the public has of the motivations of refugees. A majority in five of the seven EU member states surveyed – including in countries such as Britain that hold more unwelcoming views – believe that most people arriving are seeking asylum because they are fleeing war or are being persecuted in their countries of origin.

    However, there are also differences along political party lines in this case.

    The same discrepancies are on display in terms of how many refugees the public think their country has taken compared with other nations. The proportion of voters on the right who believe their country has taken more than others is between 11 and 15 points higher compared with the electorate as a whole.

    Conversely, voters on the left, who tend to have more favourable attitudes, are more inclined to believe refugees eventually want to return home, compared with the broader electorate.

    There are concerns shared across all seven countries. A majority are worried about the possibility that helping refugees will increase migration from elsewhere.

    And a majority in each state feels there is a risk that potential terrorists may be hiding among the refugees arriving in Europe.

    In this case, the figures vary somewhat between the different countries, with 64% in Germany sharing this fear compared with 66% in Denmark, 69% in Spain and France, 79% in Italy, 80% in the UK and 85% in the Netherlands.

    Asked which measures the EU should give priority to in handling the refugee crisis, responses varied between the countries surveyed.

    Providing development aid and supporting stability in the region was the most mentioned top measure by a majority of Germans, with 55% saying it was the most important. This is a view shared by more than a third of voters in Britain and nearly 30% in France.

    Aid and stabilising the region was the only measure among those tested that was listed by a majority in all countries surveyed.

    A fifth of voters in all the member states except France (12%) believe aid and shelter in the countries of origin should be the primary area of focus.

    There were far greater differences among respondents in terms of prioritising the reinforcement of border controls to tackle migration: a third of voters in France, 20% in the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark, 15% in Germany and fewer than 10% in Spain said tougher controls were of the upmost importance.

    Prioritising military intervention in Syria is supported by nearly 30% of voters in France and Spain, and 12% in Germany.

    France is the only country among those surveyed where a majority mentioned military intervention as part of the overall measures that should be taken.

    Methodology: Ifop polled 1000-1100 people online aged 18 or above in France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark. Samples were representative of national populations.

    “Aid and stabilising the region was the only measure among those tested that was listed by a majority in all countries surveyed.”
    Well, at least it sounds like a majority of voters in Germany and Spain are continuing to back the idea of taking in refugees. Let’s hope that welcoming spirit endures. Especially in Germany because, as the article below points out, Germany has three state elections coming up in March and Angela Merkel is facing an anti-refugee conservative revolt:

    Bloomberg Business
    Merkel Holding Emergency Talks on Refugees to Quell Party Revolt

    Patrick Donahue
    Arne Delfs
    October 30, 2015 — 6:01 PM CDT

    * Chancellor meeting over weekend with coalition party leaders
    * Merkel confronts increasing isolation over her refugee stance

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding emergency talks with party leaders this weekend to quell a revolt among her Bavarian allies over her handling of the biggest influx of refugees since World War II.

    Back from a two-day trip to China, where the strain of the spiraling turmoil began to show, Merkel will meet Saturday evening with Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer, who has demanded she stem the flow of as many as a million newcomers into Germany this year. The two will meet Sunday with Social Democratic leader Sigmar Gabriel, a coalition partner who opposes caps on refugees.

    As Merkel seeks to defuse the political unrest over her open-door refugee policy, she also confronts waning public approval for her insistence that Germany has a moral and legal obligation to protect all those seeking shelter from war and oppression. Backing for her Christian Democratic Union slipped two points to 36 percent this week, down from an August peak of 43 percent, according to a weekly poll carried out by Forsa.

    “Support for Merkel is dropping,” Andrea Roemmele, a political scientist at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, said in an interview. “There is still huge potential for civil society to help and support, but she has to do something.”

    While rumblings have been more muted from within her Christian Democratic Union, her chief critic has been Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party. His state has been inundated by thousands of refugees pouring over the border from Austria.

    Seehofer said Bavaria would take unspecified action if Merkel didn’t meet his demands by Sunday to curb the number of migrants, while Merkel has rejected caps on asylum seekers. Gabriel, Merkel’s vice chancellor, has turned on both, saying the Berlin-Munich quarrel was making the crisis worse.

    “This type of mutual intimidation and abuse is unworthy and simply irresponsible,” Gabriel told Spiegel Online.

    Creeping Isolation

    Even as she faces accusations from party allies that her policies have triggered an unsustainable wave of migrants, Merkel is in no immediate political danger from lawmakers who don’t have any appetite to topple her and seek a successor. Still, the chancellor faces creeping isolation as a public initially lining up to welcome refugees begins to fret over the ever-mounting number of newcomers.

    As a “super incumbent,” Merkel will be able to parry threats coming from the CSU and emerging from within her party, Roemmele said. “What she cannot lose is public support.”

    Merkel has sought to sidestep the domestic squabbling, focusing on the geopolitical dimension of the region’s refugee crisis, which has been compounded by the civil war in Syria and exposed the 28-member European Union’s inability to settle on a strategy for responding to it.

    After wading into an election campaign in Turkey this month to seek help in stemming the flow of migrants into the EU, Merkel this week even courted China’s leaders for assistance.

    Deep Concern

    “We are deeply concerned about the refugee crisis currently taking place in Europe and particularly in Germany,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in Beijing at a joint news conference with Merkel on Thursday. “We will continue to make our constructive contribution to the solution of the Syrian conflict.”

    Her global view will have to return to local politics as Merkel’s party gears up for three state elections next March, a precursor to 2017 national elections and a possible bid for a fourth term for the chancellor. For that, she’ll have to engage with voters whose welcome is wearing thin.

    “Her global view will have to return to local politics as Merkel’s party gears up for three state elections next March, a precursor to 2017 national elections and a possible bid for a fourth term for the chancellor. For that, she’ll have to engage with voters whose welcome is wearing thin.”
    Yikes. So, at this point, it remains increasingly unclear what the EU’s response it going to be, but what is clear is that as the crisis continues, patience among the populace is probably going to wane as ‘crisis fatigue’ continues to grow. Of course, since ‘crisis fatigue’ is nothing compared to the actual fatigue experienced by the refugees, the question of what exactly the EU is going to do remains very unclear since no one seems to be willing to give the refugees refuge but the obvious alternative to giving refuge is sending them back into war zones.

    So let’s hope the EU (and the rest of the world) can converge on some sort of humane solution. Soon. And let’s hope it’s actually a realistic solution because, as the article below makes clear, wildly unrealistic solutions to questions of where to place people in Europe might be taken seriously. For decades:

    RN Afternoons
    One man’s plan to dam the Mediterranean

    Wednesday 30 September 2015 8:16AM
    Jeremy Story Carter

    As Europe grapples with how to house hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking out safe new lands, RN Afternoons digs up a remarkable 1920s German architect’s plan to dam the Mediterranean Sea, create a new supercontinent, solve energy needs and achieve cross-continental peace.

    Imagine for a second that the combined powers of Europe pooled their resources and built a mega dam in the Mediterranean, creating a new land mass that could house millions of displaced people.

    Is it so harebrained an idea that it might actually work?


    For three decades though, the idea of damming the Mediterranean was treated with the utmost seriousness.

    Architects and engineers were consulted, plans for new cities were drawn up and the new land was even given a name: Atlantropa.

    The man responsible for the idea in 1922 was Herman Sörgel, a German architect with a enthusiasm for hydropower.

    He saw the plan as succeeding across a number of lofty ideals: creating a new land for European migration, solving the continent’s energy and employment problems and achieving peace among its nations.

    While it reads as a slightly cracked vision perfectly at home in the early 20th century, Sörgel’s concept still represents a jumble of futurist ideas that hold eerie parallels to modern dilemmas faced by European policy makers.

    Ricarda Vidal, from the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College in London, has studied Sörgel’s idea of Atlantropa.

    ‘It was taken seriously by policy makers and social engineers for a while,’ she says.

    ‘He thought that the Mediterranean was this fantastic energy resource, so if you dammed it, you could actually produce enough energy [through hydropower] for the whole of Africa and Europe.’

    The 23-kilometre-long dam was planned to block off the Strait of Gilbratar from Tarifa at the southern tip of Spain to Tangier in Morroco.

    ‘That is where the Mediterranean is at its shallowest, though it is still 300 metres deep,’ says Vidal.

    ‘There is the objection that there is not enough concrete in the world to do that.’

    Sörgel believed that technological advances over time would make the project possible.

    Remarkably, he saw its unfathomable cost as being part of the attraction.

    ‘The idea was he was trying to get all of the European leaders to agree on building the dam. The dam would cost so much money that no one would have any money left to wage war,’ says Vidal.

    ‘It was also a solution to unemployment, because you would need so many people to help build it.’

    Sörgel estimated his dream would require 1,000,000 people over the project’s lifespan to build the dam.

    Over time, he imagined a new land mass the combined size of France and Belgium would emerge. That, in turn, would irreparably alter existing cities and coastlines.

    ‘Port cities would be left stranded inland. Genoa or Marseille, for instance, would no longer be at the sea,’ says Vidal.

    Sörgel intended to create new port cities where fishing would be possible, and leave the old ones as tourist attractions.

    ‘He didn’t really take into account that the sea would probably turn into a dead sea because it would have been completely oversalted.’

    One of the most mind-boggling aspects of Sörgel’s plan was the way in which Europe’s energy, generated through the dam’s hydropower system, would be controlled.

    Believing the need for energy would prove a major driver in future world wars, he wanted each country’s power supply to be controlled by the United Nations.

    ‘The UN would have a switch with a country’s name on it, so if Italy started to wage war on its neighbour, you could just flick the Italy switch and they would not get any power anymore,’ says Vidal.

    The entire project was anticipated to take 150 years to fully complete, though it was believed the dam would begin developing power within the first 15 years.

    What might have happened had the plan been seen through to its conclusion?

    ‘We might all be dead by now, because of the catastrophic consequences to the climate and the environment,’ says Vidal.

    After three decades of support from across Europe, enthusiasm for the idea began to dwindle.

    ‘It was seen as a fairly reasonable plan until the 1950s,’ says Vidal.

    ‘What really killed it off was the discovery of nuclear power. In the 1950s, when they realised that they could use nuclear energy not just for a bomb but for power, hydro energy became uninteresting.’

    Atlantropa “was seen as a fairly reasonable plan until the 1950s”. And yet…

    What might have happened had the plan been seen through to its conclusion?

    ‘We might all be dead by now, because of the catastrophic consequences to the climate and the environment,’ says Vidal.

    Yes, in draining the Mediterranean creating a new land for European migrants, the creation of Atlantropa might have actually triggered catastrophic climate change and created even more refugees, which is more than a little ironic. But it’s a reminder that highly ambitious plans that could take 150 years to complete and reshape the world are also possible. At least decades of consideration is possible, even if the plan isn’t really feasible. So you have to wonder what highly ambitious plans (that don’t result in a climate catastrophe) are even available for not just the EU but the whole world in terms of preparing for a future where refugee crises are going to be increasingly the norm. Well, Alexis Tsipras may have recently hinted at such a big, bold idea. An idea that could take 150 years to complete, but could also yield positive results almost immediately. And it’s pretty simple too and doesn’t require draining a sea: Don’t just help the refugees. Stop hating them for existing too and consider actually liking them as fellow human beings:

    The Wall Street Journal
    Tsipras Accuses European Nations of Hypocrisy Over Migrant Crisis
    Greek leader hits out as death toll continues to rise in Aegean Sea

    By Stelious Bouras and
    Nektaria Stamouli
    Updated Oct. 30, 2015 8:48 a.m. ET

    ATHENS—Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lashed out at European nations Friday for their handling of the migrant crisis, accusing them of shedding ”crocodile tears for dead children.”

    His unusually harsh comments come as the death toll in the Aegean Sea from refugees and other migrants continues to rise. On Friday, 22 people drowned, including children, in two separate incidents involving boats sinking off the islands of Rhodes and Kalymnos, close to the border with Turkey.

    “I feel ashamed as a member of the European leadership not only for Europe’s inability to deal with this issue, but also for the level that the conversation is taking place,” Mr. Tsipras told lawmakers.

    “These are hypocritical and crocodile tears, which are being shed for the dead children. Dead children always incite sorrow. But what about the children that are alive, who come in thousands and are stacked on the streets? Nobody likes them,” he said.

    Greece has become the main gateway for people entering Europe, fleeing violence and war from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.

    “These are hypocritical and crocodile tears, which are being shed for the dead children. Dead children always incite sorrow. But what about the children that are alive, who come in thousands and are stacked on the streets? Nobody likes them
    That certainly appears to be the case. So how about, as part of both the short and long-term solutions to the refugee crises, we do a big push, globally, to actually try to like refugees (a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met, right?) and stop viewing them as “not in my tribe, so I don’t care” people. Is that even possible? If so, great! Let’s do it. And if not, uh oh, because tribalist “us vs them” attitudes aren’t just impeding a resolution to the refugee crisis. It’s creating refugee crises.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2015, 4:51 pm
  5. Here’s another interesting outcome from Europe’s refugee crisis response: Donald Tusk, Poland’s former Prime Minister who is currently the president of the European Council, just called on Germany to take a leadership role in securing the EU’s borders:

    The Telegraph
    Germany ‘must get tougher on migrants’, says European Council president
    European Council president Donald Tusk tells Angela Merkel that Germany needs to do more to help secure Europe’s external borders

    By Melanie Hall in Berlin

    8:13PM GMT 08 Nov 2015

    Germany needs to be tougher in the refugee crisis and do more to help secure Europe’s external borders, the president of the European Council has warned Angela Merkel.

    Donald Tusk praised the German government’s readiness to accept hundreds of thousands of migrants, describing its leadership role as “the most liberal and tolerant in European history”.

    But he urged the German chancellor to do more to control the migrant influx to ensure the EU’s borders are properly protected.

    “I understand why, due to historical reasons, Germany may have difficulty setting up a strict regime on its [own] borders,” he said ahead of a meeting with Mrs Merkel in Berlin.

    “But for Germany, European leadership responsibility also means controlling Europe’s external borders decisively if necessary, in accordance with pan-European unity.”

    Germany has taken in 758,000 asylum seekers between January and October, with some estimates putting the number of asylum applications at one million by the end of the year.

    The influx has led to a political backlash against the chancellor. Only two days after resolving a coalition dispute over how to manage the migrants, the ruling parties are involved in another row over whether to limit the asylum rights of Syrian refugees.

    The government was forced to clarify on Friday that its asylum policy for refugees from Syria remained unchanged after Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s interior minister, said many Syrians would receive a modified refugee status called “subsidiary protection” limiting them to a one-year renewable residence permit instead of three.

    Subsidiary protection means migrants are not granted asylum or refugee status and their rights are limited, including not being allowed to bring relations to Germany for two years.

    Mr de Maizière’s comments in a radio interview, which he retracted later, have reopened a rift between Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and coalition partners the Social Democrats (SPD).

    Ralf Stegner, deputy chairman of the SPD, accused the CDU on Saturday of putting forward ill-conceived proposals instead of implementing the decisions agreed by the coalition.

    More women and children would undertake the perilous journey from Syria to Europe if family reunions are restricted, he said.

    Politicians from the CSU backed Mr de Maizière’s proposals, with the party’s secretary general, Andreas Scheuer, telling newspaper Bild am Sonntag: “Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are getting shelter here, but it must only be subsidiary protection – this means for a limited period and without having family members join them.”

    “But for Germany, European leadership responsibility also means controlling Europe’s external borders decisively if necessary, in accordance with pan-European unity.”
    So that’s happening. Along with a row in Germany over whether or not to only grant “subsidiary protection” with restricted rights to bring their families:

    The influx has led to a political backlash against the chancellor. Only two days after resolving a coalition dispute over how to manage the migrants, the ruling parties are involved in another row over whether to limit the asylum rights of Syrian refugees.

    The government was forced to clarify on Friday that its asylum policy for refugees from Syria remained unchanged after Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s interior minister, said many Syrians would receive a modified refugee status called “subsidiary protection” limiting them to a one-year renewable residence permit instead of three.

    Subsidiary protection means migrants are not granted asylum or refugee status and their rights are limited, including not being allowed to bring relations to Germany for two years.

    Keep in mind that one of the reason so many refugees are young men is that they’re making the trip first to find a safe host country before their wife and kids comes. So this is potentially a policy shift that will be leaving the wives and kids behind in many cases. Also keep in mind that over half of the Syrian refugees worldwide are children, which makes the proposed policy shift quite a complication in terms of getting those kids the aid they need.

    This is also going to be a complication:


    Germany’s capacity to take in refugees is limited, Schaeuble says

    Sun Nov 8, 2015 2:08pm EST

    Germany needs to send a message to the world that it’s reaching the limit of its capacity to help Europe’s flood of migrants, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Sunday, as he advocated restricting family reunions for Syrian refugees.

    Germany has become a magnet for people fleeing war and violence in the Middle East. It expects 800,000 to a million refugees and migrants to arrive this year, twice as many as in any prior year.

    “We need to send a clear message to the world: we are very much prepared to help, we’ve shown that we are, but our possibilities are also limited,” Schaeuble said in an interview with ARD television.

    The pace and scale of the influx has put pressure on local communities and opened a rift among the ruling coalition parties over the best way to handle the crisis.

    The divisions re-opened over the weekend, after Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in future Syrian refugees would receive modified refugee status and be barred from having family members join them, a statement he later retracted.

    The Social Democrats (SPD), who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, rejected that proposal.

    Schaueble, however, spoke out in favor of the measure and said it was a proposal that the government was examining in detail.

    “I think it’s a necessary decision and I’m very much in favor that we agree on this in the coalition,” he said.

    Horst Seehofer, the leader of Merkel’s Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), also backed de Maiziere’s suggestion, telling the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the refugee status of Syrians should be individually checked.

    The latest row comes after the coalition ended weeks of infighting on Thursday evening on how to speed up the deportation of asylum seekers who have little chance of being allowed to stay.

    Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also leader of the SPD, said it was important that the government first implement the measures it had agreed to rather than coming up with new ones on a daily basis.

    “I think it’s a necessary decision and I’m very much in favor that we agree on this in the coalition”
    So Schaueble is fully behind the “subsidiary protection” restriction. That’s definitely going to complicate things.

    Also this:

    The Guardian
    European Union states have relocated just 116 refugees out of 160,000

    EU agreed in September to transfer 160,000 people from most affected states but so far just 86 have moved from Italy and 30 are due to leave Greece

    Alberto Nardelli

    Wednesday 4 November 2015 01.00 EST

    EU member states have so far relocated only 116 refugees of the 160,000 they are committed to relocating over the next two years, according to new figures.

    EU members states agreed in September to relocate 160,000 people in “clear need of international protection” through a scheme set up to relocate Syrian, Eritrean, and Iraqi refugees from the most affected EU states – such as Italy and Greece – to other EU member states.

    So far 116 people have been relocated, and only 1,418 places have been made available by 14 member states, according to data released on Tuesday by the European Commission.

    A total of 86 asylum seekers have been relocated from Italy, and 30 asylum seekers will travel from Athens to Luxembourg on Wednesday. Denmark, Ireland and the UK have an opt-out from the scheme, but Britain is the only member state that has said it will not contribute to the relocation.

    The EU’s emergency relocation mechanism is only one facet of the broader refugee crisis. Syria, Iraq and Eritrea account for the majority of those crossing the Mediterranean. According to the UNHCR, more than one in two are fleeing from Syria. While 6% of those arriving via the Mediterranean are originally from Iraq, and 5% from Eritrea.

    This has contributed to a backlog of applications. At the end of last year there were just under 490,000 pending applications across EU member states. In July of this year, the figure stood at 632,000.

    The backlog is not showing signs of receding any time soon: for every asylum decision made there are 1.8 new applications. Approximately 240,000 applications were processed between January and June this year.

    Over the same six months, 432,345 applications were filed. However, the European Commission data also reveals that beyond the logistical challenges, a “large number of member states has yet to meet financial commitments” and “too few member states” have responded to calls to help Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia; among the most used routes by asylum seekers, with essential resources such as beds and blankets.

    “However, the European Commission data also reveals that beyond the logistical challenges, a “large number of member states has yet to meet financial commitments” and “too few member states” have responded to calls to help Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia; among the most used routes by asylum seekers, with essential resources such as beds and blankets.”
    So the calls for for beds, blankets and cash haven’t gone well. We spaces for a refugee in need of relocation. We’ll see if the border patrol pleas garner of different level of response. It might.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 8, 2015, 7:20 pm
  6. The President of the European Council has a message to the EU over its handling of the refugee crisis: First, more solidarity is needed. Also, it’s pretty much up to Berlin to figure out how to solve this:

    Europe depends on German approach to refugees: EU’s Tusk
    BERLIN | By Michael Nienaber

    Mon Nov 9, 2015 5:28pm EST

    Europe’s future will depend to a large degree on Germany’s approach to the migration crisis and other states should show more solidarity by jointly tackling this historic challenge, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Monday.

    Europe is grappling with its worst refugee crisis since World War Two and Germany so far has taken in the bulk of some one million people expected to arrive this year.

    While Tusk has repeatedly stressed the urgency of tightening Europe’s borders, Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed for states to show solidarity and share responsibilities for refugees.

    Merkel was initially celebrated at home and abroad for her welcoming approach to the refugees, many of whom are fleeing conflict in the Middle East. But as the flow has continued and German facilities have been stretched to the limit, the chancellor has come under increasing criticism.

    Speaking in Berlin on the 26th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tusk described Germany and Merkel personally as examples of the best European values.

    “Those who believe that Germany is too open, too tolerant, too liberal, forgot to do their homework about our tragic history,” said Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.

    “Do you want a Germany that is open, tolerant, compassionate, sympathizing with the weaker and the poorer, in other words the Germany of Angela Merkel, or a Germany which is closed, cold and ruthless? There is only one answer,” he added.

    Therefore, other European states should now show solidarity towards Germany “in these difficult and testing times”, he said.

    EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker has accused national leaders of sapping efforts to tackle the migration crisis by not honoring commitments on money and resources.


    Germany, on the other hand, should realize that it is responsible not only for “its moral message”, but even more so for the whole political community of Europeans, Tusk added.

    He urged Germany to provide strong leadership by helping to secure Europe’s external borders and protect Europe against a rise of radical populism.

    “Indeed, whether Europe survives as a continent of freedom, the rule of law, respect for an individual, and the security of its inhabitants will depend to a great extent on Germans.”

    Tusk called for a “modification” of the current European migration policy, warning that Europe’s Schengen zone of passport-free travel was at risk if external borders were not strengthened.

    “In the face of the unprecedented scale of migrants flowing to Europe, we have to say in simple terms: Europe is not able to accept all the people willing to come to our continent.”

    “Let us not fool ourselves. The fall of the Berlin wall did not automatically abolish the need for borders as such.”

    Since Germany is not a European border state, responsibility lies in the first place with other countries, Tusk said. “But even so, everybody will be looking up to you, watching out for signals coming from Berlin,” he added.

    Merkel has been criticized for unwittingly encouraging more refugees to come to Germany by stating publicly that there was no upper limit to the number that would be accepted.

    “Indeed, whether Europe survives as a continent of freedom, the rule of law, respect for an individual, and the security of its inhabitants will depend to a great extent on Germans.”
    Wow. That’s some bold leadership from the European Council. But given the fact that Germany really is the de facto paymaster for the EU, and therefore its de facto leader (since that’s how the EU rolls), it’s hard to deny that Tusk wasn’t making a valid, if unfortunate point. Berlin basically calls the shots in Europe these days.

    So it’s going to be interesting to see what, if any, collective action Berlin can successfully achieve as the crisis continues to unfold. Although keep in mind that the collective action might mostly involve deporting refugees from the non-border EU states like Germany to the border EU states like Italy:

    The Telegraphs
    Discord in German government as Syrian refugees to be deported to other EU countries copy
    Germany in U-turn on Dublin system for refugees as interior minister gives order to start deporting asylum seekers back to EU state they first entered

    By Justin Huggler in Berlin

    2:46PM GMT 11 Nov 2015

    Germany is to start deporting Syrian refugees after reinstating EU rules under which they must claim asylum in the first member state they enter.

    But there was fresh discord in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government after it emerged Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister, had ordered the measure without consulting colleagues.

    It is the second time Mr de Maiziere has been accused of acting unilaterally in less than a week.

    Mrs Merkel’s office had to intervene at the weekend to block an earlier unauthorised attempt by him to limit asylum for Syrians.

    There is no indication that Mrs Merkel disapproves of the latest measure, but her coalition partners complained they were not even informed..

    Several Social Democrat MPs reportedly thought the new order was a joke when it was announced on Tuesday evening.

    “This is a communications disaster,” Burkhard Lischka, the party’s home affairs spokesman, said.

    “We’ll look at Mr de Maiziere’s latest announcement objectively and evaluate it on its own merit, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, the party’s deputy chairman, told Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

    “What does not work is the zero communication from the interior minister.”

    The move also came as a surprise to MPs from Mrs Merkel’s own Christian Democrat party, with many learning of it for the first time from their smartphones in the middle of a party meeting, according to Spiegel magazine.

    Mr de Maiziere defended himself, claiming the reinstatement of the EU’s controversial Dublin rules for Syrians was agreed last month.

    Under the rules, refugees are supposed to claim asylum in the first EU member state they reach, and can be deported if they travel to another.

    Germany’s decision to suspend the rules in the summer was the first public indication of the “open-door” refugee policy that has seen Mrs Merkel’s approval ratings plummet in recent weeks.

    Critics have claimed the move encouraged many more asylum-seekers to travel to Europe.

    The return to the rules will be seen as a sign Mrs Merkel is changing course, but it is expected to have little impact on the numbers streaming into Germany.

    Privately, government officials expect as few as 3 per cent of the Syrian refugees in the country can be deported under the rules.

    Most of those arriving Germany have never registered in other countries, meaning there is no evidence of where they first entered the EU.

    And a longstanding German court ruling means the country cannot deport refugees to Greece, where the majority of Syrians first arrive, because of poor conditions for asylum-seekers there.

    The Austrian government welcomed the move as a “return to sense”.

    Well, that doesn’t exactly seem like a solution to…well, anything. But as far as leadership in the EU goes, that’s about as good as it’s going to get. And that means we should probably expect a lot more stories like this:

    Refugee haven Sweden imposes temporary border controls in EU migration crisis

    STOCKHOLM | By Alistair Scrutton and Niklas Pollard
    Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:36pm EST

    Sweden will impose temporary border controls from Thursday in response to a record influx of refugees, a turnaround for a country known for its open-door policies that also threw down the gauntlet to other EU nations hit by a migration crisis.

    The decision by a Nordic state that touts itself as a “humanitarian superpower” underscored how the flow of refugees into the European Union is straining its prized system of open internal borders close to breaking point.

    Germany warned it could start sending Syrian refugees back to other EU states from which they came, prompting Hungary to insist it would take none, while Sweden’s neighbor Denmark said it was tightening immigration rules and Slovenia began to emulate Budapest in erecting new border fences.

    Sweden has welcomed more asylum-seeking refugees and migrants per capita than any other EU country and authorities forecast that up to 190,000 asylum seekers could arrive this year, double the previous record from the early 1990s.

    “Our signal to the rest of the EU is crystal clear – Sweden is the country that has shouldered the greatest responsibility for the refugee crisis,” Interior Minister Anders Ygeman told a news conference hastily called by the center-left government.

    “If we are to cope with this mutual challenge, the other countries must take their responsibility.”

    Sweden’s border controls will primarily extend to the bridge across the Oresund strait separating Sweden and Denmark and ferry ports in the region. They will be imposed from Thursday for a period of 10 days and could be extended by 20-day periods.

    In Berlin, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble described Germany’s refugee crisis as being like an avalanche. Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under fierce pressure since offering shelter to close to a million asylum-seekers this year.

    “Avalanches can be caused if a careless skier … sets some snow on the move,” Schaeuble told an event on European integration held in Berlin. “Whether we are at the stage where the avalanche has already reached the valley below, or whether we are at the stage at the top of the slope, I don’t know.”


    Sweden’s government had warned last week that it could no longer guarantee finding accommodation for newly-arrived refugees. The minority government has faced pressure also from the center-right opposition and far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats – who are rising in polls – to tighten up on refugees.

    The Swedish Migration Agency already plans to shelter thousands of refugees in heated tents due to a housing shortage, while some people may be accommodated in venues such as ski resorts and a theme park.

    Some 10,000 refugees arrived last week, and 2,000 in one day – both records for Sweden. Compounding concerns, there have been more than a dozen suspected arson attacks on buildings earmarked for refugees in the last few months.

    “The fact the we can see that hundreds of people now can’t be provided with a roof over their heads by the Migration Agency and are forced to sleep outdoors or in railway stations, that risks creating threats to order and security,” Ygeman said.

    Stockholm has also applied to the European Commission to arrange for some of those to be moved to other EU countries.

    The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said last week that refugees and migrants were likely to continue to arrive in Europe at a rate of up to 5,000 per day via Turkey this winter.

    More than 760,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to EU territory this year, entering mainly via Greece and Italy, after fleeing wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as conflicts and deprivation in Eritrea, other parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the U.N. agency says.

    “Germany warned it could start sending Syrian refugees back to other EU states from which they came, prompting Hungary to insist it would take none, while Sweden’s neighbor Denmark said it was tightening immigration rules and Slovenia began to emulate Budapest in erecting new border fences.”

    Yep, that all happened while Sweden closed its borders too. And at this point it’s unclear why even more borders aren’t going to be closed since the entire EU appears to be engaged in a game of refugee Hot Potato and the current style leadership coming from Berlin involves reinstating a rule to let non-border states toss those Hot Potatoes back to the EU border states.

    So let’s hope Sweden gets all the heated tents it needs. Or, actually, let’s hope Sweden gets substantially more heated tents than its needs and then decides to share those tents with the rest of its EU neighbors. Because all those Hot Potatoes fleeing for their lives and traveling north to countries like Sweden and Germany might end up hitting a closed border with no where to go are going to turn into frozen potatoes fleeing for their lives in a few months:

    Associated Press

    EU warns of refugee ‘catastrophe’ as winter closes in


    Nov 9, 2:07 PM EST

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union warned on Monday of a looming humanitarian “catastrophe” with tens of thousands of people traveling through the Balkans to northern Europe as winter closes in.

    More than 770,000 people have arrived in the EU by sea so far this year, overwhelming border authorities and reception facilities. Many have made the arduous land journey on foot through the Balkans in search of sanctuary or work in countries like Germany or Sweden.

    The EU’s 28 member nations have pledged to provide experts and funds to help manage the emergency, and to share refugees among them.

    But the resources have been painfully slow in coming.

    “The European Union must do everything to avoid a catastrophe as winter closes in,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said after chairing the latest in a long series of high-level talks on the challenge. “We cannot let people die from the cold in the Balkans.”

    To help manage the influx, EU border agency Frontex has called for 775 extra officers, but member states have so far only offered about half that amount. Slovenia asked for 400 more police officers within a week to help out. Almost three weeks later, less than half has been pledged.

    French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that his country had committed to relocate 30,000 refugees “in coming weeks and months.”

    He also urged his EU partners to live up to their pledges and to enforce the rules in place on returning people who don’t qualify for asylum back to their home countries.

    “Solidarity can’t work if we are not determined enough to implement the measures that we have already agreed,” he said.

    “The European Union must do everything to avoid a catastrophe as winter closes in…We cannot let people die from the cold in the Balkans.”
    That’s a great sentiment, and hopefully catastrophe will indeed be avoided before winter. But it’s worth noting that, contrary to the assertion that the EU cannot let people die from the cold, it really can. All that has to happen is for not enough to happen:

    The Guardian
    Winter is coming: the new crisis for refugees in Europe

    From Lesbos to Lapland, refugees are bracing for a winter chill that many will never have experienced before. Some will have to endure it outside

    Words by Julian Borger and Andrew MacDowall in Brežice, Amelia Gentleman in Calais, Kate Connolly in Berlin, David Crouch in Gothenburg, Frances Perraudin in Lesbos, and Sofia Papadopoulou in Idomeni

    Monday 2 November 2015 11.39 EST

    Record numbers of migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in October – just in time for the advent of winter, which is already threatening to expose thousands to harsh conditions.

    The latest UN figures, which showed 218,000 made the perilous Mediterranean crossing last month, confirm fears that the end of summer has not stemmed the flow of refugees as has been the pattern in previous years, partly because of the sheer desperation of those fleeing an escalating war in Syria and other conflicts.

    The huge numbers of people arriving at the same time as winter is raising fears of a new humanitarian crisis within Europe’s borders. Cold weather is coming to Europe at greater speed than its leadership’s ability to make critical decisions. A summit of EU and Balkan states last week agreed some measures for extra policing and shelter for 100,000 people.

    But an estimated 700,000 refugees and migrants, have arrived in Europe this year along unofficial and dangerous land and sea routes, from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq, north Africa and beyond. Tens of thousands, including the very young and the very old, find themselves trapped in the open as the skies darken and the first night frosts take hold. Hypothermia, pneumonia and opportunistic diseases are the main threats now, along with the growing desperation of refugees trying to save the lives of their families.

    Fights have broken out over blankets, and on occasion between different national groups. Now sex traffickers are following the columns of refugees, picking off young unaccompanied stragglers.

    The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, is distributing outdoor survival packages, including sleeping bags, blankets, raincoats, socks, clothes and shoes, but the number of people it can reach is limited by its funding, which has so far been severely inadequate. Volunteer agencies have tried to fill the gaping hole in humanitarian provisions in Europe.

    Peter Bouckaert, the director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch, said that all the way along the route into Europe through the Balkans “there is virtually no humanitarian response from European institutions, and those in need rely on the good will of volunteers for shelter, food, clothes, and medical assistance.”

    Europe has found itself ill-prepared to deal with its biggest influx of refugees since the second world war. It is hurriedly improvising new mechanisms so that it can respond collectively as a continent rather than individual nations, but it is a race against time and the elements – a race Europe is not guaranteed to win.

    “There is a risk of collapse,” said Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief. “Because when you’re facing a challenge and you don’t have the instruments to do it, you risk failing. So it could be that if we don’t manage to create common instruments to deal with this on a European level, we fall back on the illusion that we can face it through national instruments, which we see very clearly doesn’t work.

    Mogherini added: “Either we take this big step and adapt … or yes, we do have a major crisis. I would say even an identity crisis.”

    “Either we take this big step and adapt … or yes, we do have a major crisis. I would say even an identity crisis.”
    Note that there’s already an identity crisis. At this point it’s mostly a question of how the identity crisis ends up getting resolved.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 11, 2015, 7:30 pm
  7. Der Speigel has a piece on how the refugee crisis is creating changes to Germany’s foreign policy that, in many cases, would have been unthinkable just a few months ago. In particular, it’s looking like there’s going to a significant change in Germany’s willingness to engage in military action under the idea that solving the crises in the countries producing large numbers of refugees is the best solution to stemming the low of refugees, particularly via the creation of safe-haven areas in the countries producing refugees:

    Der Speigel
    Bye Bye Merkel Doctrine: German Foreign Policy Shifts Focus to Refugees

    With the refugee crisis showing no signs of abating, Germany is rapidly changing its foreign and security policy focus. Gone are the days of democracy promotion. Now the primary goal is that of preventing people from migrating to Europe.

    By SPIEGEL Staff

    November 11, 2015 – 11:43 AM

    On the last Friday in October, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen found herself in a government jet flying just outside of Syrian airspace. She was on the way to an international security conference in Bahrain for several meetings. Her mission: crisis diplomacy.

    Meanwhile, diplomats from around the world were gathered in Vienna to discuss possible ways in which the Syrian civil war could be brought to an end — a conflict that is the primary cause for the enormous wave of refugees currently crashing over Germany and the rest of Europe. While still in the air, Von der Leyen was receiving hourly updates from the Vienna gathering. She was hopeful that a breakthrough could be reached so that she could continue the search for a solution in Bahrain.

    A few days prior, the minister had been in Iraq for talks in Baghdad and for a visit to the Kurds in the north of the country. But now, the Gulf was on von der Leyen’s agenda. Maps of the region were spread out on the table in front of her. Here, the Russians are bombing, and this is the area Islamic State has under its control, she said, pointing at the maps. It used to be that efforts aimed at pacifying global crisis regions fell into the category of foreign policy. These days though, such trips are part of “refugee policy,” as Germany attempts to address the roots of the problem.

    Action Rather than Resignation

    It is a goal that the German government has made its highest foreign and security policy priority: That of ensuring that as few refugees as possible embark on the long journey to Germany. The pursuit of that strategy has led to the launch of diplomatic initiatives, the questioning of development policy concepts, the subordination of long-held principles and the expansion of military missions.

    The task is enormous. Europe, to borrow the vernacular of military leaders, is surrounded by a “ring of fire.” Across the Mediterranean, in North Africa and the Middle East, there is an arc of crisis made up of collapsing and precarious states, where a simple selfie with the German chancellor is enough to trigger thousands to begin a journey to Europe in search of a better future.

    Because Europe can’t simply cut itself off, according to the logic of German refugee policy, much of the world must be transformed into a better place — an incredibly ambitious goal that is a combination of desperation and megalomania. “We have to restore state power and stability in countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya,” Minister von der Leyen said the weekend before last. Action, rather than complaint and resignation, is her motto, the minister has often been heard saying in recent weeks. If you just energetically address a problem, she believes, the fortitude to solve it will appear by itself. It sounds, in other words, as though Minister von der Leyen believes in miracles.

    Abandoning the Merkel Doctrine

    The reorientation of German foreign policy is an admission of failure. For years, Chancellor Angela Merkel pursued security policy by way of weapons exports and military training missions: The so-called Merkel Doctrine. The goal, as Merkel described it in a 2011 speech, was to enable strategically important countries to guarantee their own security. Merkel’s hope was that the strategy could preclude the need for Germany to become involved in unpopular military missions abroad.

    Now, though, Berlin has abandoned the Merkel Doctrine. Instead, German military missions are being planned, expanded or extended from Mali to Iraq to Afghanistan — to a degree that nobody could have imagined just a few short months ago. Within the shortest amount of time, a paradigm shift has taken place. “Three years ago, nobody thought we would have German troops in northern Iraq or Mali,” Geza Andreas von Geyr, director general for security and defense policy at the German Defense Ministry, said at a recent conference of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Berlin, a think tank closely aligned with Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Indeed, the German military is even looking into the possibility of making Tornado reconnaissance planes available on the periphery of the Syrian conflict. The idea calls for them to monitor the airspace of NATO ally Turkey on its border with Syria — similar to the air policing mission in the Baltic states.

    Among Chancellor Merkel’s center-right conservatives, foreign and security policy experts are laying the political groundwork for a change of course. “Foreign and security policy must now be increasingly focused on combatting the causes of refugee flight,” says the conservatives’ deputy floor leader Franz Josef Jung, who served as minister of defense from 2005 to 2009 in Merkel’s first government. His party colleague Roderich Kiesewetter, who is the leading Christian Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee in German parliament, says: “We have to focus on being prepared so that crisis regions do not become new sources of refugees.”

    Resistance To Deployments Is Shrinking

    German conservatives are now rapidly trying to establish the outlines of a new foreign and defense policy doctrine. The heart of the new concept will be Germany’s military. “The Bundeswehr has to play an explicit role,” says Jung. Training police forces and militaries will remain an element of the approach, in the hopes of preventing crisis-stricken states from collapsing. At the same time, though, the readiness to send German troops on robust military deployments abroad is growing — missions with aims such as separating conflict parties and protecting refugee camps.

    Pacifism has long been a critical element of Germany’s approach to foreign policy, but that is changing, with some parliamentarians hoping that public skepticism of German military missions overseas is on the wane. Jürgen Hardt, foreign policy spokesman for the conservatives in parliament, says, with hope: “Whereas a majority of Germans used to be critical of sending soldiers abroad, acceptance for more robust military measures has recently risen.” The view is similar from within the Defense Ministry. There is no longer a “knee-jerk no,” says one ministry source.

    The most recent example is the astonishing lack of resistance to the extension of the Bundeswehr’s mission in Afghanistan. Instead of completely withdrawing to Kabul as had been planned, German troops, it was decided in mid-October, are now to remain in the north of the country, continue training Afghan security forces and do what they can to at least slow the advance of the Taliban. The ultimate hope is that of improving living conditions in Afghanistan such that tens of thousands of people there will no longer want to uproot and head for Europe.

    Safe Areas

    It is, of course, unlikely that the extended presence of a few thousand NATO troops will succeed where 140,000 NATO troops, at the height of the Afghanistan operation, failed. That’s why Berlin’s primary goal is that of ensuring that at least part of the country remains safe enough that rejected asylum-seekers can reasonably be deported. Last Thursday, following a meeting with her two coalition partners — Sigmar Gabriel from the Social Democrats and Horst Seehofer of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to the CDU — Merkel said that “intra-state flight alternatives” are to be created in Afghanistan. Chancellery Chief of Staff Peter Altmaier spoke of protective areas. De facto, that means that parts of the war-torn country are to be declared safe regions of origin. Not long prior to the meeting, Merkel held a telephone conversation with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to confirm that there were, in fact, areas in Afghanistan safe enough for deported refugees.

    Still, the idea of safe areas is a controversial one within Merkel’s governing coalition. Development Minister Gerd Müller, of the CSU, says that such a plan could only be successful if it were it accompanied by massive investments in infrastructure and education. “A purely military solution will not work in the long term,” he said. SPD foreign policy expert Niels Annen warns: “Those demanding protection zones in Afghanistan are essentially demanding the re-launching of the military mission at a much greater dimension than before.”

    Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, by contrast, indicated he was open to the idea following a meeting with SPD parliamentarians last Tuesday. “In the coming days, we will receive more refugees from Afghanistan than from Syria,” he said. Conservative floor leader Volker Kauder is also a supporter of the idea: “I think it is correct to establish safe zones in Afghanistan so that Afghans without the right to remain in Germany can return to secure areas of their homeland,” he says. Deputy floor leader Jung adds that the protection of such zones requires a well-trained and well-armed Afghan national army. “That is why we should continue our support of the Afghan national army and extend and expand the Resolute Support Mission, in which the Bundeswehr is a participant,” Jung says. Conservative foreign policy spokesman Jürgen Hardt adds that a plan must be developed for how the German military, together with the Afghan army, can establish the security necessary in the safe zones.

    Expanding Efforts in Iraq and Africa

    But it’s not just in Afghanistan that Germany’s military has begun focusing on refugee prevention. In Iraq, where the Bundeswehr arms and trains Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the military would like to see its mission expanded by 50 troops, a proposition that has been the subject of high-level discussions between the Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry in Berlin. In parallel, the German military plans to deliver more arms to the Kurds and to expand its support of the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Germany hopes that pushing back the Islamic State in Iraq will translate into fewer people fleeing the country for Europe.

    Defense Minister von der Leyen has used a similar logic to justify the expansion of the German mission in Mali. A German reconnaissance unit is to be sent into the unstable northern part of the country in support of the UN peacekeeping mission there, known as MINUSMA, in part because several African refugee routes intersect in the region. Given that combat units will be necessary to protect the reconnaissance troops, Berlin plans to send a total of 400 to 500 German troops.

    By referring to the need to fight the causes of the refugee crisis, the mission will no doubt be much easier to sell to the German people. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently said: “We have a great interest in helping Mali fulfil its commitments: to its own people by way of guaranteeing security, but also in the effective combatting of organized crime in the areas of drug trafficking and human smuggling.”

    The Defense Ministry is even considering a mission to the failed state of Libya. The idea foresees a NATO training mission to rebuild Libyan security forces once the warring parties there come to agreement on the establishment of a government. German military leaders have no doubt that the Bundeswehr would have to be a part of such a mission. “As a leading country within the alliance, Berlin can no longer refuse,” one general says. “A secure Libya would help slow the wave of refugees.”

    ‘We Only React When It’s Too Late’

    More aggressive German officers go even further. German NATO General Hans-Lothar Domröse, responsible for central and northern Europe, spoke not long ago of a possible alliance mission in Syria or Iraq. “It makes sense to militarily stamp out our neighbors’ fires. Otherwise, there is just misery and millions of people who begin fleeing to us.”

    However, significant disagreement remains within the German government when it comes to using development aid as a tool to fight the refugee crisis. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière would like to see the threat of foreign aid reduction as a way to pressure states to take back their citizens who have fled to Germany. Conservative floor leader Kauder agrees. “Connecting development aid to the requirement that countries take back those who have fled is the right thing to do,” he says.

    But the Development Ministry is against it. “What benefit would it have to cut funding to a girls’ school in Nigeria, for example, or to an educational center in Ethiopia?” asks Müller. “The result would be even more refugees.” The minister is demanding that aid to countries like Jordan and Lebanon, which are offering shelter to an enormous number of refugees, be significantly increased. “We are sitting on the sidelines as Lebanon founders instead of offering the country much more help in dealing with the refugee crisis. We only react when it’s already too late.”

    Radical changes are also going to be made to the European Neighbourhood Policy. The draft of the new Neighbourhood Policy, to be passed on Nov. 18, speaks of “new priorities” and of “drawing a line under the old way of doing things.” In the future, the top priority will no longer be that of promoting democracy. Stability is the new focus. Special funds for “supporting refugees, combating crisis and security and stability programs” are envisioned. A program called “Brain Circulation” is to encourage trained migrants to return to their homelands.

    The price for the recalibration of Germany’s foreign and security policies to focus on the refugee problem is clear. The country will have to be prepared for involvement in more, and more dangerous, military missions abroad. Furthermore, democracy and the rule of law will fade further into the background. Instead, stability takes precedence — even if, though it isn’t often discussed, it means supporting dictatorships.

    “Whereas a majority of Germans used to be critical of sending soldiers abroad, acceptance for more robust military measures has recently risen.”
    Will the growing public acceptance of foreign military action be sustainable over time or is this a temporary blip? Well, if ‘solving the conflict there so the refugees don’t come here’ is the new master plan, we’re going to find out.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 13, 2015, 3:29 pm
  8. More recent events show a possibility that right wing extremism is gaining political suppport in Germany. An article in Britain’s Daily Mail had some interesting comments including:

    Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, says: ‘What we’re see­ing is the street mobil­i­sa­tion of Right-wing extrem­ists, but also of some Left-wing extrem­ists who oppose those anti-immigration groups.’

    Below are excepts from an arti­cle show­ing how Germany’s lib­eral Syr­ian Immi­gra­tion pol­icy is bring­ing out a strong Nation­al­ist anti-immigrant reatc­tion that the police do not believe they can counteract.

    Fron­tex, the Euro­pean bor­der agency, and West­ern intel­li­gence ser­vices have sounded a sec­ond alarm. They warn that Islamic State jihadists are exploit­ing the refugee influx to slip into Europe.

    Demog­ra­phers at the Bavar­ian Asso­ci­a­tion of Munic­i­pal­i­ties say Ger­many faces a pop­u­la­tion time bomb. As migrants bring in wives and chil­dren, they warn that the num­ber of Mus­lims could rise from 5.8 mil­lion to 20 mil­lion by 2020, threat­en­ing the cul­ture of this once fiercely Chris­t­ian nation.

    A respected TV sta­tion, N24, has reported that many new arrivals have already van­ished under the radar since enter­ing the coun­try. On three occa­sions in Sep­tem­ber, groups of young male migrants, thought to be non-Syrians try­ing to escape the atten­tion of immi­gra­tion or secu­rity ser­vices, have pulled the emer­gency brakes to stop trains tak­ing them to camps for reg­is­tra­tion, then jumped out and van­ished. Mean­while, Ger­man police say they are inves­ti­gat­ing 60 cases in which Islamic extrem­ists, some pos­ing as char­ity work­ers, have infil­trated migrant camps to recruit migrants to jihad.

    It is bit­terly ironic that post­war Ger­many, still bat­tling with national guilt over the Nazi slaugh­ter of six mil­lion Jews in the Holo­caust, is import­ing so many peo­ple who are avowedly anti-Semitic.

    ‘We are import­ing Islamic extrem­ism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and eth­nic con­flicts of other peo­ples, as well as a dif­fer­ent under­stand­ing of soci­ety and law.’

    Those views were echoed by Josef Schus­ter, pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral Coun­cil of Ger­man Jews, this week. In a care­ful state­ment, he said: ‘Many flee from Islamic State ter­ror to live in peace and free­dom. At the same time they come from cul­tures in which a hatred of Jews and intol­er­ance is a fixed ele­ment. Don’t only think of Jews, think of the equal­ity of woman and man or deal­ings with homosexuals.’

    Mean­while, Jur­gen Mannke, direc­tor of the Teach­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion of Saxony-Anhalt, in cen­tral Ger­many, has said girls must be warned against con­sort­ing with Mus­lim migrants. He wrote in a mag­a­zine: ‘It is our human duty to help peo­ple who are fac­ing exis­ten­tial dis­tress due to war and polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion. ‘But it is extremely dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish who comes to our coun­try for purely eco­nomic or even crim­i­nal motives. From our eth­i­cal and moral per­spec­tive, women are not treated equally or with dig­nity in Mus­lim coun­tries. Already, we hear . . . about sex­ual harass­ment on pub­lic trans­port and in supermarkets.


    In another article, the new Riot Police’s hel­mets in Bavaria, Germany have been styled to retain a Nazi char­ac­ter to them. Is this a coincidence, or does it symbolize a political force of Nazism beginning to take hold in Germany? See article which makes light of the issue by comparing it to Darth Vader’s helmet:


    Posted by TBD | November 29, 2015, 12:26 pm
  9. With the EU reaching a deal with Turkey where Turkey receives 3 billion euros in EU aid and political concessions in exchange for Turkey agreeing to slow the flow of refugees, it’s worth noting that Amnesty International just issued a report warning of an alarming new trend in Turkey’s handling of refugees that appears to have begun in recent months and would indeed help Turkey make good on its pledge to stem the refugee flow: Sending them back to the war zones:

    A damning Amnesty report claims Turkey abused refugees and pressured some to return to war zones

    Written by Aamna Mohdin

    Turkey has been accused of abusing hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, and even pressuring some to return to war zones.

    The damning report by Amnesty International describes a “less visible human rights crisis” in Turkey, as a result of increased pressure from the EU to halt record flows of migration. Amnesty accuses Turkey of illegally detaining refugees, denying them communication with the outside world, and pressuring some to return to the countries they fled, “in violation of Turkish and international law.”

    Amnesty documented three cases of physical abuse in detention centers, and has collected numerous testimonies of ill-treatment from refugees. These human-rights violations are a “new development,” according to Amnesty, which says they began in September 2015. Turkey has brushed off the allegations as false; a Turkish government official told Agence France-Presse: “We categorically deny that any Syrian refugees were forced to return to Syria.”

    The country had previously been widely praised for its response to the refugee crisis. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees were crossing into neighboring Turkey as the civil war ravaging their country intensified. A year ago the UN High Commissioner for Refugees counted over 1.6 million refugees, mostly Syrian, in Turkey, and predicted that number to rise to around 1.9 million by now. Turkey has struggled to cope with the influx; hundreds of thousands have inadequate housing, education and healthcare. This was reflected in other refugee camps, particularly in Jordan, as UNHCR announced a $3.47 billion funding gap in June 2015.

    With little chance of work (Turkey doesn’t allow them to) and the worsening conditions in the camps, hundreds of thousands of refugees have flocked to Europe—nearly 220,000 refugees and asylum seekers arrived in Europe by sea in October alone.

    To stem the flow, the EU turned back to Turkey. An EU-Turkey migration deal was signed at a special summit last month (Nov. 29), in which member states offered Turkey €3 billion ($3.4 billion) in aid and further negotiations on Turkey joining the EU, which had previously been postponed. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, emphasized Turkey’s important role in her latest speech defending her refugee policy.

    Amnesty’s report, however, calls on the EU to stop this “recklessness” and suspend its deal with Turkey, which it accuses of using EU money to fund an unlawful detention and return program.

    “By engaging Turkey as a gatekeeper for Europe in the refugee crisis, the EU is in danger of ignoring and now encouraging serious human rights violations,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s director for Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement.

    “By engaging Turkey as a gatekeeper for Europe in the refugee crisis, the EU is in danger of ignoring and now encouraging serious human rights violations”
    Yep. And it’s not just the EU:

    Swiss negotiating sending refugees back to Turkey

    Dec 13, 2015 – 15:54

    Swiss migration authorities are negotiating an agreement wherein Turkey would take back refugees who had travelled to Switzerland via their country, according to Mario Gattiker, head of the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

    Gattiker told Swiss public television, SRF, on Saturday that in exchange for taking back certain individuals, Turkey would receive €3 billion (CHF3.2 billion) in financial aid and facilitated entry into Switzerland for its citizens.

    “The goal is to be able to regulate that a citizen or a third-country national, such as a Syrian, can be sent back if they entered Switzerland illegally, if the case meets the requirements of the agreement,” Gattiker said.

    If concluded, the agreement with Turkey would be one of 40 such agreements in place between Switzerland and other countries.

    The negotiations are going forward despite the fact that Turkey is not officially on the list of “safe countries” – in other words, a place where people are free from persecution. However, Gattiker said that every case would be analysed – as is already done currently – to see whether the threat of persecution exists for the person being sent to Turkey.

    Gattiker defended the strategy by arguing that it’s best for refugees to stay in the region of the world that they came from.

    “They only [leave the area] if they have no other options, no more food and end up on the streets,” he said, explaining that working with Turkey would allow for a reduction in migration from the region.

    “They only [leave the area] if they have no other options, no more food and end up on the streets”
    You have to wonder how a quiet new “go back to the war zone” policy from Turkey is going to impact Europe’s refugee crisis. And if Turkey isn’t able to slow the flow down enough to stem Europe’s refugee panic, you have to wonder what’s next on the agenda.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2015, 2:39 pm

Post a comment