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Heineken’s Europe: The Balkanization of a Continent

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Back in 2009, Joshua Keating shared his musings about an “intriguing theoretical map of Europe designed by Dutch beer tycoon Freddy Heineken. A dedicated Europhile, Heineken believed that smaller nations within a larger European framework would be more manageable in the post-Cold War era. In 1992, he coauthored a pamhplet titled The United States of Europe (a Eurotopia?), which included the above proposal for a new Europe comprised of small territories of roughly equal, ethnically homogernous populations”.1 This 18-page tract was published by De Amsterdamse Stichting voor de Historische Wetenschap, a seemingly reputable publisher which is in fact a vanity project financed by the beer magnate himself: ‘Alfred Henry “Freddy” Heineken (4 November 1923 – 3 January 2002) was a Dutch businessman for Heineken International, the brewing company bought in 1864 by his grandfather Gerard Adriaan Heineken in Amsterdam. He served as Chairman of the Board of directors and CEO from 1971 until 1989. After his retirement as chairman and CEO, Heineken continued to sit on the board of directors until his death and served as chairman of the Supervisory board from 1989 till 1995. At the time of his death, Heineken was one of the richest people in the Netherlands, with a net worth of 9.5 billion guilders’.2 Or, a bored rich Dutchman looking for rhyme and reason, who, in the Nineties fell upon the idea of turning the whole of Europe into a giant continent-wide Balkan peninsula for the benefit of the corporatocracy . . . And now, let’s leave the field to the eminent map specialist Frank Jacobs: “Heineken collaborated with two historians to produce a booklet entitled The United States of Europe1, A Eurotopia? The idea was timely, for two reasons. Eastern Europe was experiencing a period of turmoil, following the collapse of [C]ommunism. The resulting wave of nationalism led to the re-emergence of several nation-states (i.e. the Baltics) and the break-up of several others (Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia). And in 1992, the Maastricht Treaty would transform an initially mainly economic ‘European Community’ into a more political ‘European Union’. Heineken’s proposal would lead to the creation of dozens of new European states, which would have a comparably small population size (mostly between 5 and 10 million), some basis in history, and for the most part would be ethnically homogenous. The theory behind Heineken’s idea is that a larger number of smaller member-states would be easier to govern within a single European framework than a combination of larger states competing for dominance. Heineken might have been inspired by the work of Leopold Kohr”,3 . . . and continuing in another entry, Jacobs explains that Kohr (1909-94) was “an Austrian philosopher influenced by Anarchism and influential on the Green movement”,4 whose most influential work is a book entitled The Breakdown of Nations . . . in which he apparently expanded upon the notion that small is beautiful . . . Jacobs continues that for Kohr the “main question for society, therefore, [was] ‘not to grow, but to stop growing. The answer: not union but division.’ Not something you often hear advocated by politicians. Kohr wrote about half a dozen other books in all, also wrote one titled ‘Is Wales Viable? – a question that has still not been answered satisfactorily . . . As Kohr saw it, the problem with Europe’s geopolitical makeup was the fact that its states were not equal in size, allowing the ‘big ones’ to dominate the rest. Or at least try to, hence the endless series of wars in Europe. One way to solve this, would be to chop up the continent into rectangular chunks of territory, disregarding most existing cultural, religious, linguistic and natural boundaries”.5

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Heineken took Kohr’s ideas and ran with them . . . Jacobs explains what Kohr’s plans were really all about: “Eire, Portugal, all 5 Scandinavian countries, the 3 Baltic countries . . . the Netherlands and Belgium . . . Austria, Hungary, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Switzerland” are all small enough to pesist, but “[t]he UK is [to be] disestablished in favour of its constituent nations: England, Scotland, Wales, (Northern) Ireland. Spain disintegrates into Asturia, Castillia, Andalusia, Catalonia and Aragón. France falls apart into Aquitaine, Brittany, Normandy, Isle de France, Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy, Languedoc, the Midi and Corsica. Italy is replaced by successor states Savoy, Lombardy, Tuscany, the Papal States (!), Naples, Sicily and Sardinia. Yugoslavia breaks up into Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia. Romania becomes Transylvania and Wallachia. Czechoslovakia is divided among Bohemia and Slovakia. Germany, the pivotal power in Central Europe . . . disintegrates into Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, the Rhineland, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Prussia, Silesia and one more state the name of which I can’t quite make out – but which would have to be Mecklenburg” and “Poland becomes Posen, Galicia and Warsaw”.6

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The Irish journalist Gearóid Ó Colmáin explains matter-of-factly that “Kohr’s ideas have become extremely influential in European Union policy circles. Trans-national financial elites want to make the European Union into the political representation of their power.A federal Europe of micro-states whose policies are determined by global elites would make it impossible for Europe’s citizens to unite against the trans-national financial ruling class; it is the reason why Heineken’s map is now becoming a grim reality – all over Europe”.7

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1Joshua Keating, “Tuesday Map: Heineken’s “Eurotopia’” Foreign Policy (2009). http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/05/26/tuesday-map-heinekens-eurotopia/.

2“Freddy Heineken” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddy_Heineken.

3Frank Jacobs, “My Kingdom for a Beer? Heineken’s Eurotopia” Big Think (2016). http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/386-my-kingdom-for-a-beer-heinekens-eurotopia.

4Frank Jacobs, “Want World Peace? Divide the World in Enough Small States” Big Think (2016). http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/18-the-world-a-la-leopold-kohr.

5Frank Jacobs, “Want World Peace? Divide the World in Enough Small States”.

6Frank Jacobs, “Want World Peace? Divide the World in Enough Small States”. .

7Gearóid Ó Colmáin, “Catalan ‘independence’: a tool of capital against labour” (03 Oct 2017). http://www.gearoidocolmain.org/catalan-independence-tool-capital-labour/.

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#Brexit = #NoMoreUK =#FUK

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With regard to the recently held referendum in Great Britain, the highly respected and truly inimitable authority that is the roving reporter Pepe Escobar writes on his Facebook wall that “THE WRITING ON [the] FUK’s WALL . . . Those two-bit Game of Thrones/House of Cards Tory clowns STILL can’t see the writing on [the] FUK (Former United Kingdom)’s wall. Brussels hardball is here to stay. NO single market access without freedom of movement, respecting the competence of the European Court of Justice and a “contribution” to the EU budget almost equivalent to what the UK pays today. [The]FUK (Former United Kingdom) gets a status equivalent to Norway, Iceland and [Lichtenstein]. And a trade deal similar to what the EU has with Singapore, Japan and Canada. That’s it. Those Tory clowns simply had no clue Brussels would definitely use Brexit as an example to prevent a domino effect, showing to assorted Europhobes that leaving IS painful. The governor of the Bank of England apparently got the picture: ‘economic post-traumatic stress disorder’. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI) says [the] FUK’s economy will contract 6% by 2020. Investment (China included) will decline 8%. Unemployment will RISE. And public debt will reach 100% of FUK’s output. Eastern and Northern Europe are trying hard to soften the ball for [the] FUK. But who gives a damn what Estonia’s president thinks about it all? Even [the] FUK supporters agree there should be no special favors – because that would be a Godsend to Frexisters and Nexiters. But as I said before, everyone is irretrievably pissed, pissed off, pissed beyond belief with the English – and not necessarily the Brits (everyone loves Scotland). Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister and not exactly the brightest bulb in the room, at least nailed it; England has collapsed ‘politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically’. He should add ‘footballistically’as well. Someone should propose Gareth Bale for PM”[1]

  brexit_leave_7006194783_4ea0b7Is there anything else left to add, I wonder. And, as it turns out, the equally incomparable Nafeez Ahmed did, even before the ballots were cast and fully counted: “Nigel Farage has jumped off an economic cliff screaming ‘Independence Day!!!’, and he’s taking us all down with him. While Brexit will almost certainly usher in a new wave of austerity and impoverishment, it’s far from clear that Remain would avoid it. Wherever you stand on the outcome of Britain’s EU referendum, hard economic reality is going to bite – and it’s going to bite hard. The #VoteRemain camp made a point of highlighting the numerous warnings from economists that a UK exit from the EU would trigger an economic crisis. The #VoteLeave camp insisted that this was a doom-mongering lie. It wasn’t. Last night, over Twitter, I predicted that the Leave campaign would win by a narrow majority – but that the victory would grow hollow very quickly as its immediate economic impact kicked in [:] ‘So here’s a #brexit scenario: 1. #VoteLeave wins by slim majority 2. #VoteLeave victory create crisis in Cameron’s leadership. 11:26 PM – 23 Jun 2016’.[2]  Dr Ahmed then adds the following: “So far, my little forecast has turned out to be uncannily prescient. The pound is in free-fall, so far hitting a thirty-year low. Stocks have slumped, and look to decline further. Banks are shifting their money, and their jobs. David Cameron has resigned, virtually in tears, a fitting end perhaps to a shambolic premiership. But he also put off invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which would formally begin the EU exit process. I’ve said that by next week, escalating economic turbulence and the inadequacy of contingency measures to keep it in check will dramatically shift the euphoric mood to one of increasing foreboding about the economic slowdown”.[3]

The Canary

And finally, Dr Ahmed opines that’ll be “just the beginning folks. Over the next few weeks, we’ll watch as a pound in free-fall drives up inflation, and squeezes the spending power of the average consumer. Who’s that going to hit hardest? The lower middle and working classes, of course. The impact will hit the profits of businesses, big and small, and squeeze wages too. As the UK’s GDP growth – already tepid – freezes over, this will in turn have global impacts: the Eurozone, particularly the northern countries like Denmark and Finland, will be drawn into the downwards spiral; so will parts of southern Europe, already teetering on the precipice. And China, which is seeing its economy hit the brakes, will suffer when the European slowdown triggered by Brexit reduces demand for Chinese exports. It’s the global transmission of these shocks, and their capacity to mutually intensify, that will push the UK off the edge, taking large swathes of the global economy with it. The government will have little choice in this context except to try mitigating the deepening economic crisis – but this simply won’t be possible within the current model of neoliberal capitalism, without repairing the damage done to the UK-EU trade relationship. In the words of The Economist: ‘A lot depends on the kind of trade deal Britain can negotiate with the EU and how quickly. If Britain gets a quick deal with no big reductions in its access to the single market, the grimmer scenarios for the world economy may not come to pass. But markets do not seem to be counting on it.’ And that’s the crux of it. In coming weeks, the mess inside the government that is Cameron’s rather pathetic legacy will be grappling with how to keep the promise of exiting the EU, while staving off the protracted financial collapse that would inevitably follow”.[4]

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[1] Pepe Escobat @Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377?fref=nf.

[2] Nafeez Ahmed, “Brexit is about to usher in Third World Britain” The Canary (24 June 2016). http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/24/brexit-usher-third-world-britain/.

[3] Nafeez Ahmed, “Brexit is about to usher in Third World Britain”.

[4] Nafeez Ahmed, “Brexit is about to usher in Third World Britain”.

#Brexit = #NoMoreUK

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This is another morning after the night before . . . Cameron is gone, having washed his hands and said his goodbyes . . . and here is an opinion worth sharing: an unknown member of the public calling him/herself Teebs wrote on the Guardian webpage that “If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost. Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron. With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership. How? Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor. And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legislation to be torn up and rewritten … the list grew and grew. The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction. The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50? Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders? Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-manoeuvred and check-mated. If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over – Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession … broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act. The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice. When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was “never”. When Michael Gove went on and on about “informal negotiations” … why? why not the formal ones straight away? … he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take. All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign”.[1]

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So, it’s all over now and the UK appears set to leave the EU and will in all likelihood collapse in the next instance, with Scotland, Ulster, and Gibraltar opting to stay in the Union . . .

The EU is nothing but a political fig leaf for the powers that run the show known as Post-Democracy, but at the same time, the Brexit will very likely turn the UK (or rather, England) into Europe’s sole and single island third world nation . . .

Nigel (with or without plans) and Boris and his Johnson will now have to lay in the beds they have made for themselves . . .

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#Brexit = #NoMoreUK

[1] Narjas Zatat, “People are really, really hoping this theory about David Cameron and Brexit is true” The Independent (s,d,). http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/people-are-really-really-hoping-this-theory-about-david-cameron-and-brexit-is-true–bJhqBql0VZ.

Climate Change and Migration Patterns: Hitting the Fan

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The journal Climate Change recently published a joint article entitled “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century”.[1] The collective of authors consists of the specialists Jos Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis and G. Zittis. And their conclusions are dire indeed, as summarized by the journalist Matt Atherton: “Up to 500 million people living in the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] could be forced to leave their homes because of extreme heat predicted in the near future, researchers have said. A study has found that these regions will become uninhabitable by the end of the century, when temperatures of up to 50C will become the norm during the summer months”.[2] Or, if you like a more scientific wording: “We conclude that the MENA is a climate change hotspot that could turn into a scorching area in summer. There is general consent that heat extremes impact human health, contribute to the spreading of food- and water borne diseases, and that more intense heat waves increase premature mortality. In the past, climate assessments of social and economic impacts due to changing weather extremes, including consequences for human security and migration, have often focused on storms, floods, droughts and sea level rise. It is increasingly recognized that hot weather extremes cause a loss of work capacity and aggravate societal stresses, especially for disadvantaged people and vulnerable populations (IPCC 2014). We anticipate that climate change and increasing hot weather extremes in the MENA, a region subject to economic recession, political turbulence and upheaval, may exacerbate humanitarian hardship and contribute to migration”.[3]

Jos Lelieveld

Jos Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and co-author of the above-quoted study,  said that “[i]n future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy . . . Climate change will significantly worsen the living conditions in the Middle East and in North Africa. Prolonged heat waves and desert dust storms can render some regions uninhabitable, which will surely contribute to the pressure to migrate”.[4] Or, if you will, the present migration crisis in Europe is but the beginning of the real crisis that will surely happen as the century moves along into the near future . . . And at this juncture, the World Bank has also just released another report: “Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP by 2050, spur migration, and spark conflict, according to a new World Bank report High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy. The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain, the report finds, with these effects expected to be most pronounced in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia”.

 

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[1] J. Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis & G. Zittis, “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century” Climate Change (25 March 2016). http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-016-1665-6.

[2] Matt Atherton, “Climate change: Middle East and North Africa to become uninhabitable forcing mass migration” IBT (03 MAy 2016). http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-change-middle-east-north-africa-become-uninhabitable-forcing-mass-migration-1558023.

[3] J. Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis & G. Zittis, “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century”, p. 13.

[4] Matt Atherton, “Climate change: Middle East and North Africa to become uninhabitable forcing mass migration”.

Feeling the Bern: Hilary 2016

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The American progressive writer John Stauber (cfr. THE BEST WAR EVER)[1] appears to have predicted what would happen to Bernie the moment the latter stepped on to the stage, “(as could any objective fool)” have . . . and now that the dice has finally been cast, he opines that this is “the Democrat’s political equivalent of the Bill Murray movie classic Groundhog Day, except the progressive candidate never wins the girlfriend, er, nomination, in the end. Instead, the Sanders, Deans, Browns, and Jacksons, the progressive champions of their election cycle, only change themselves from watchdogs and guard dogs to lap dogs, ensuring that cynical and outraged progressives follow their champion-cum-Pied Piper to become advocates for defeating the Republicans in November”.[2]

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Stauber goes on to say that “Bernie is an old man. He has lived a fine and worthy public life, but unfortunately he will fade into the sunset without taking the brave step of leading his supporters into finally forming a viable left party in the United States. That would be a true legacy and accomplishment. Even the right wing oligarchs of the Republican Party have realized that the shared monopoly both corporate parties wield over the political process makes a viable third party almost impossible. Yet, for all the noble tirades of the Progressives from Bill Moyers to Bernie Sanders about the power of money and how it must be removed from the process, it is the process itself that is the problem. Two parties, both pro Wall Street and pro military-industrial complex, control the political system. A majority of voters opted out of this farce democracy long ago, so only a minority votes for these parties. Big money has ensured ever tighter domination by the super rich, but even with the dream of meaningful finance reform, the shared monopoly that corporate oligarchs control with their phony two-party system is the real problem”.[3]

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‘Sanders on Whether He Would Tell Supporters to Back Hillary: ‘Make These Decisions Yourself’ . . . A young man at the Bernie Sanders–Chris Hayes MSNBC town hall tonight told him about how he and a lot of other Democrats just can’t see themselves voting for Hillary Clinton in the fall. He asked, “Will you encourage your supporters to vote for Secretary Clinton?” . . . “We’re not a movement,” Sanders said, “where I can snap my fingers and say to you or to anybody else what you should do, that you should all listen to me. You shouldn’t. You make these decisions yourself.” So basically, as far as Sanders is concerned, it’s incumbent upon Clinton to earn the votes of his supporters by speaking to the issues that they care about (posted 25 April 2016)’.

The inimitable Pepe Escobar puts it like this: “[s]o it’s a go for Zeus to launch the thunderbolt. Neo-Athena – minus the wisdom – Hillary Clinton, Queen of Chaos, Goddess of War, Empress of the Perma-Smirk, will finally have her shot at the U.S. presidency. After the Battle of New York, she’s on top on number of votes; number of states; number of pledged delegates; number of superdelegates. It seems as inevitable as death and offshore accounts. ‘I don’t think she’s going to be indicted’; thus spoke Donald Trump to Fox News in relation to Servergate. ‘The Democratic Party is going to protect her.’ And yet, assuming he clinches the presidency, Trump said he would pursue charges against Hillary concerning her subterranean email server. Charles Koch, for his part, now admits Hillary might make a better President than, well, Trump or any other Republican (‘It’s possible, it’s possible’) – as much as, in some respects, he considers Bill was a better President than George W. Bush. So would Koch’s billions support Hillary? ‘We would have to believe her actions would be quite different from her rhetoric.’ Which brings us to Hillary as Queen of Turbo-Charged Casino Neoliberalism. And once again, the evidence insists to suggest that her actions do not exactly match her rhetoric”.[4] Oh yes, here we go again. The Empress of Chaos as the Queen of Turbo-Charged Casino Neoliberalism on the domestic and globalist front, while talking nice and giggling uncontrollably, as the next Gaddafi dies screaming . . . or, as put by the always eloquent John Pilger, “Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of blood and suffering around the world and a clear record of exploitation and greed in her own country”.[5] Does this now mean that the only hope for a better world is . . . Trump, I mean Drumpf?!??? There are those who hold this opinion: “Trump is a media hate figure. That alone should arouse our scepticism. Trump’s views on migration are grotesque, but no more grotesque than David Cameron. It is not Trump who is the Great Deporter from the United States, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama . . . The danger to the rest of us is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system . . . As presidential election day draws near, Clinton will be hailed as the first female president, regardless of her crimes and lies – just as Barack Obama was lauded as the first black president and liberals swallowed his nonsense about hope”.[6]

Hills

[1] “THE BEST WAR EVER — by John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton” The Erimtan Angle (08 Oct 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/the-best-war-ever-by-john-stauber-sheldon-rampton/.

[2] John Stauber, “#FeelTheBern Goes #UpInSmoke” CounterPunch (27 April 2016). http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/27/feelthebern-goes-upinsmoke/.

[3] John Stauber, “#FeelTheBern Goes #UpInSmoke”.

[4] Pepe Escobar, “Hillary: Wall Street’s Golden Girl” CounterPunch (27 April 2016). http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/27/hillary-wall-streets-golden-girl/.

[5] John Pilger, “Trump and Clinton: Censoring the unpalatable” RT Op-Edge (29 March 2016). https://www.rt.com/op-edge/337590-trump-clinton-censoring-pilger/.

[6] John Pilger, “Trump and Clinton: Censoring the unpalatable”.

WikiLeaks: Operation Sophia

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On the WikiLeaks website the following announcement can be read: “Today, [Wednesday, ] 17 February 2016, WikiLeaks is releasing the classified report about the first six month of Operation SOPHIA, the EU military intervention against ‘refugee boats’ in Libya and the Mediterranean”.[i] And next, explaining that “[t]he report, dated 29 January 2016, is written by the Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino of the Italian Navy, for the European Union Military Committee and the Political and Security Committee of the EU. It gives refugee flow statistics and outlines the performed and planned operation phases (1, 2A, 2B and 3), the corresponding activities of the joint EU forces operating in the Mediterranean and the future strategies for the operation. One of the main elements within the report is the planned, but still pending transition from Phase 2A (operating in High Seas) to Phase 2B (operating in Libyan Territorial Waters) due to the volatile government situation in Libya, where the building of a ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA) is still under way. The report presses the responsible EU bodies to help speed up the process of forming a ‘reliable’ government in Libya that in return is expected to ‘invite’ EU forces to operate within their Territorial Waters (Phase 2B) and later even give permission to extend the EU military operations onshore (phase 3). In the last month there have been half a dozen high level meetings between EU and US officials (including with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome) as it is claimed by the US military that up to 5,000 Islamic State fighters have taken control over parts of the Libyan coast. Serious pressure has been placed on Libya’s major power groupings to speed up the completion of the GNA and ‘invite’ Western forces. A GNA invitation was expected in January. Libyan press has reported that US, UK and French special forces have already arrived (there is no public admission by the Western countries). Within Europe, Italy and the UK have been the driving forces behind the military intervention”.[2]

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In the report, Admiral Credendino declares that “[i]rregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea is continuing at a significant rate, with over 929,000 migrants arriving in Europe this year. However, since September [2015] we have seen two significant changes in the flow. Firstly there has been a reduction in the proportion of migrants using the central Mediterranean route as opposed to the eastern route. Prior to the start of the operation there was an even split between the people using the central route and the eastern route, whereas now 16% migrants use the central route, with almost 83% of migrants using the eastern route. Secondly, since September, for the first time in 3 years, we have seen a 9% reduction in the migrant flow using the central route. This is an encouraging decrease in the flow and should continue to be driven down through EUNAVFOR MED’s continued efforts. In October [2015], we successfully transitioned to phase 2A (High Seas), therefore for the first time having an effect on the smuggler and traffickers’ business model. For the autumn surge I had 16 assets (ships and air assets) under my command which were used to successfully provide a higher degree of deterrence against the smuggler and traffickers’ activities in international waters. Since the start of the operation, our actions have contributed to the arrest of 46 suspected smugglers and the disposal of 67 boats. Due to the effectiveness of phase 2A (High Seas), smugglers can no longer operate with impunity in international waters. They have to stay within Libyan Territorial Waters, as they otherwise would be apprehended by EUNAVFOR Med operation SOPHIA assets. My outreach activities have successfully contributed to an improved understanding and acceptance of the operation within the International Community. Since the start of the mission, I have met with very senior representatives from 6 different countries, 9 different EU organisations, 14 different international organisations, including the United Nations, the International Organisation for Migration, the ICRC and both the African Union and Arab League. During this reporting period I have consolidated my relationships with key interlocutors and I have seen a demonstrable improvement in their view of the operation. Moving forward, from a military perspective, I am ready to move to phase 2B in Libyan Territorial Waters, but there are a number of political and legal challenges that must be addressed before I can recommend such a transition. These include the legal finish in terms of our powers to apprehend suspected smugglers in Territorial Waters and who will prosecute any suspected smugglers detained there. We will also need to cooperate with and deconflict our activities with those of any other international missions that might operate within Libya once a Government of National Accord has been established. Critical to our exit strategy is a capable and well-resourced Libyan Coastguard who can protect their own borders and therefore prevent irregular migration taking place from their shores. Indeed, through the capability and capacity building of the Libyan Navy and Coastguard we will be able to give the Libyan authorities something in exchange for their cooperation in tackling the irregular migration issue. This collaboration could represent one of the elements of the EU comprehensive approach to help secure their invitation to operate inside their territory during Phase 2 activities. Moreover, training together during phase 2 could also be a key enabler to build confidence and facilitate the conduct of Phase 3 operations jointly with the Libyan authorities. Also, to avoid coordination problems within the AOO and prevent the risk of incidents, it is highly desirable that one single mission should be assigned the training task of the Libyan Navy and Coast Guard. In my view, EUNAVFOR MED could have an important role to play in this domain. This would of course, should the Member States agree to it, imply an amendment to the OPLAN. In conclusion, while still much needs to be done to disrupt the smugglers’ business model, EUNAVFOR MED has nonetheless achieved significant results in its first 6 months of its life. In this respect the main message to the International Community is that the EU is capable of launching a military operation in record time, displaying a strong resolve and remarkable unity of intent, as demonstrated by the 22 Member States participating in the operation “.[3]

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Rather than offering a lasting solution to the current migrant crisis, the EU’s reaction called Operation Sophia primarily appears to be an exercise in containment, aimed at the ruthless individuals and gangs who have built up a viable “business model” to exploit desperate people fleeing either war and/or economic deprivation and ruin. The EU is now apparently cooperating closely with the U.S. in order to stem the flow yet unwilling to put a stop to the basically imperialist military and economic policies at the very root of the problem.

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In fact, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union constituted by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg released a press statement last year, which explained the rationale behind the whole operation: “[t]he EU naval operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking on the high seas, in line with international law. The Political and Security Committee also agreed that EU NAVFOR Med should be renamed “Sophia” after the name given to the baby born on the ship of the operation which rescued her mother on 22 August 2015 off the coast of Libya. The new name of the operation will be formally adopted by the Council at the earliest opportunity. The decision by the Political and Security Committee to launch the first step of phase 2 of the operation follows an assessment by the Council on 14 September that the conditions to move to this stage have been met. The Operation Commander Rear Admiral Credendino has judged the transition possible as member states provided the assets needed for this more active phase in the force generation conference of 16 September 2015 . . . The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and to prevent the further loss of life at sea. It is part of a wider EU comprehensive approach to migration, tackling both the symptoms and root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution”.[4]

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[1] “EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″ WikiLeaks (17 Feb 2016). https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/.

[2] EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″.

[3] “Executive Summary. EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015” WikiLeaks release: (17 Feb 2016), pp. 3-4. https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/EEAS/EEAS-2016-126.pdf.

[4] “EUNAVFOR Med – EU agrees to start the active phase of the operation against human smugglers and to rename it ‘Operation Sophia'” Presidency of the Council of the European Union (28 September 2015). http://www.eu2015lu.eu/en/actualites/communiques/2015/09/29-eunavfor-med/index.html..

Obama’s State of the Union 2014

‘Watch PBS NewsHour coverage of President Obama’s 5th State of the Union. Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks will join Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill for the address to Congress, and the Republican response (28 Jan 2014)’.

About ‎China, President Obama said that “For the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest, America is”. And on ‎Afghanistan he stated the following: “While our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country”. Turning to more pressing affairs and Syria, the POTUS said that “[i]n Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks”. Then turning eastward, Barrack Obama declared that “We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away. But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb”.

In the Washington Post, Robert Costa and Paul Kane report that the “official Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address was delivered by Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), the House GOP’s highest-ranking woman, who asserted that Obama was making it tougher for a lot of Americans. “Right now, the president’s policies are making people’s lives harder. Republicans have plans to close the gap,” she said”. Costa and Kane remark further that “[o]n health care, McMorris Rodgers said Republicans will continue to fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act [aka Obamacare], and she knocked the administration for the rocky rollout of the president’s signature law”.[1]

Continuing Costa and Kane state that “McMorris Rodgers spoke from a quiet room inside the Capitol, where she sat on a gold couch with an American flag, triangularly folded, displayed on a shelf behind her. Her manner was relaxed, her style straightforward and scripted. Over the past week, aides to McMorris Rodgers and other House GOP leaders have been busy promoting her, using her prominent perch as part of a counteroffensive to Democrats, who have aggressively criticized the party’s approach to women’s issues”.[2]


[1] Robert Costa and Paul Kane, “Flurry of GOP responses to State of the Union address reflects party’s ideological rivalries” The Washington Post (28 Jan 2014). http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/multiple-gop-responses-to-state-of-the-union-are-they-a-sign-of-party-division/2014/01/28/0d1c68c0-883b-11e3-916e-e01534b1e132_story.html.

[2] Robert Costa and Paul Kane, “Flurry of GOP responses to State of the Union address reflects party’s”.