Europe/Americas: June 21 2018


The European Union wants to put migrant processing centers in Africa to screen candidates before they attempt to cross the Mediterranean. While in one sense the objective is commendable–screening people out before they risk drowning at sea rather than after they’ve already risked it–in another sense this is an effort to outsource immigrations and customs to North African and Sahel nations so that asylum seekers, who under international law must be taken in while their cases are heard, can be blocked from coming to Europe altogether. Shockingly, no African nations seem particularly interested in helping the EU out here.

An interesting side feature to the immigration fiasco is that Italian fascists and German fascists are now feuding with one another ahead of an EU mini-summit on immigration later this month. Germany’s increasingly fascist Christian Social Union party is threatening to collapse Germany’s current governing coalition unless Angela Merkel can get the EU to adopt strict controls over “secondary movement,” which is when an asylum seeker moves from his or her point of entry to a second EU country to make an asylum claim. But Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the guy who wants to start counting Roma but not in a racist way how dare you suggest that, is demanding that the EU fix its primary asylum system–the one that puts most of the asylum burden on the typical countries of entry like Greece, Italy, and Spain, before it tackles secondary movements. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is threatening to start turning asylum seekers away at the border, which would be counter to EU statute and undoubtedly enrage Salvini.


CNN is now reporting that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will meet in mid-July, probably in Vienna, while Trump is in Europe for a NATO summit. This comes just a couple of days after the Russian government said it was not making any plans for such a meeting. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is expected to visit Moscow later this month to discuss the meeting.


Romania’s High Court of Cassation and Justice on Thursday sentenced Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea to three years and six months in prison over a corruption conviction stemming from his time as a local council boss from 2006 to 2013. Dragnea is probably the most powerful political figure in Romania though he’s been barred from assuming the prime minister’s office over a separate fraud conviction in 2015. The Social Democratic Party has been trying, in the face of considerable public opposition, to relax Romania’s anti-corruption laws to allow Dragnea to step into the PM job, though that no longer seems like an issue now unless he somehow gets this new conviction overturned.


Remarkably, Athens and its creditors seem to have agreed on a deal to allow Greece to exit the downward spiral of Eurozone bailouts and austerity that has been crippling the country’s economy:

“Greek debt is sustainable going forward,” said eurogroup president Mário Centeno. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said going into the meeting that “we have to recognise that Greece has really made the job – they have fulfilled their commitments.”

Centeno said under the deal, Greece could delay back repayment on billions in loans by 10 years, giving it a financial breather while stricter deadlines could have further choked the economy over the next decade. It also got another injection of €15bn.

Hooray! And all it took was, uh, slashing benefits and salaries in a way that thoroughly immiserated working class Greeks in order to appease the German banking gods so that they would be willing to do something they could have done years ago and offer Greece some debt relief. The system works!


French President Emmanuel Macron lashed out on Thursday at the “leprosy” of populism spreading across Europe. This naturally drew an angry response from Italy’s populist government:

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, head of the 5-Star Movement which governs with Salvini’s League party, called Macron’s words “offensive and out of place”.

“The real leprosy is the hypocrisy of someone who pushes back immigrants at (Italian-French border town) Ventimiglia and then wants to preach to us about our sacrosanct right to ask for an equal distribution of migrants,” Di Maio tweeted.

While the message is fine, maybe Macron, who is evidently anti-immigrant himself and who is currently shopping for a new swimming pool for his swanky summer retreat, isn’t the best messenger.



The supposition that seems to underlie the outright Republican hostility to asylum seekers appears to stem in large part from the idea that they’re coming to the US to steal from US citizens, to hop on welfare and live like kings or whatever, because we all know how generous the US welfare system is. But this is horse shit. People seeking asylum in the US–who are still seeking asylum in the US despite being amply aware that the current US government wants to kidnap their children and throw them in prison–aren’t coming here for the sweet government dole. They’re fleeing horrific situations back home:

Feelings of desperation and impotence are being felt throughout Central America, where the lawlessness, endemic poverty and levels of gang violence akin to war zones that have driven so many families from their homes show little signs of abating.

The rate of violent death in El Salvador is still higher than all countries suffering armed conflict except for Syria, with a murder rate of 99.7 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016, according to the most recent global study by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey. The number of people displaced in the nation of 6.5 million by turf battles between the country’s two biggest gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, skyrocketed last year to 296,000, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

In neighboring Honduras, one of Latin America’s poorest and most violent nations, adding to the sense of insecurity is the country’s role as a major transit point for South American cocaine as well as the political turmoil and civil unrest that have followed hard-line President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s re-election last November amid allegations he stole the vote.

In Guatemala — the third of the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Central America — criminal activity is also spreading, adding to the discrimination and abuse long faced by the indigenous communities that are among the largest groups fleeing poverty.

A lot of these conditions–the very existence of MS-13, for example–are the direct result of US policy. So maybe we could try showing just a sliver of compassion for–no? We can’t? Well, I tried.


Finally, at LobeLog Paul Pillar attempts to figure out the Trump Doctrine and concludes that there really isn’t one:

Conspicuous and consistent traits of Trump’s foreign policy do not involve the sorts of objectives or principles that customarily merit the term “doctrine.” The traits have major effects, and the effects sometimes fall into discernible patterns, but the effects are not objectives of a coherent strategy. The most conspicuous trait of Trump’s policies has been to do the opposite of, and to try to destroy, anything significant that his predecessor accomplished. This trait is at the center of much of what Kagan’s “rogue superpower” has done—specifically, the rejection of important agreements on the environment, trade, and weapons proliferation. But anti-Obamaism is entirely negative. It says nothing about what kind of world the United States is for and wants to build. Depending on the specific issues involved, it can take Trump in different directions from just tearing down multilateral agreements.

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