Monday, March 7, 2016

Europe's Unraveling Refugee Deal with Turkey + Election Results in Slovakia & the U.S.

The refugee crisis in Europe is actually a triumph of rationality. The neoliberal and neoconservative leadership class believes that it creates reality, that perpetual and ever-widening wars can be waged while the deleterious effects are skillfully managed. The European refugee crisis is proof that such is not the case.

Today in Brussels the oft-mentioned but never implemented deal with Turkey will be negotiated again. The deal commits Turkey to keep refugees and migrants fleeing war and privation from traveling to Europe; also, Turkey agrees to accept those who Europe designates as economic migrants (such as, unbelievably, Afghans) as opposed to refugees (Syrians and Iraqis). For its part, Europe commits to resettling a number of those warehoused in Turkey designated as refugees; also, it pledges Turkey $3.3 billion, with assurances of more to come.

The problem is that EU parliamentarians are none too happy with the proposal, as James Kanter reports in "NATO to Expand Patrols in Aegean Sea to Stop Human Traffickers":
European Union leaders had raised hopes that such a trade-off with the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, could be negotiated at the meeting in Brussels on Monday. They have said, however, that it remains too early for an agreement on the number of people who would be transferred from Europe back to Turkey. 
Another factor that could impede progress at the meeting is a ruling by a Turkish court ordering the seizure of the opposition Zaman newspaper. 
That move has prompted sharp criticism from some European Union parliamentarians who say Europe relies too heavily on Turkey to ease the migration crisis. They say it should instead make a unified effort to help Greece and create an effective coast guard to protect the bloc’s coastlines.
In Greece, a nation still grappling with severe economic problems, many thousands of migrants have become trapped because Macedonia, which is not a member of the European Union, has blocked their passage northward. 
On Sunday, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats group in the European Parliament, said Turkey had so far given little more than “empty promises” on returning migrants. He also warned against making a deal with “a country that imprisons journalists, attacks civil liberties and with a highly worrying human rights situation.” 
As Europe continues to dither over the worst crisis of its kind since the Second World War, the announcement that NATO would expand its operations could, at least, give leaders more time to reach a more united position and wring more concessions from Turkey.
The NATO naval mission in the Aegean at this point is limited to monitoring the refugee flotillas and communicating that information to the Greeks and Turks and Frontex. NATO will intervene to provide emergency assistance.

Slovakia, like Ireland and Spain, has had an election where the results make the formation of a government difficult (see "Slovakia’s Governing Party Loses Majority as Far Right Makes Gains" by Miroslava Germanova). Slovakia is getting attention because a neo-Nazi party, People's Party-Our Slovakia, won 14 seats in a 150 seat parliament. This kind of election we're seeing throughout the West. People are frustrated and desperate over the chokehold that the neoliberal consensus -- the corruption -- has on the political system.

The United States is no different. The GOP power brokers, sensing vulnerability based on the Super Saturday returns, are pouring money into Florida and Illinois to block Trump from locking up the nomination. While I agree that Cruz's victories in Kansas and (particularly) Maine prove that Trump definitely has some weaknesses, the fact is that Trump still won the day with his victories in Kentucky and Louisiana. And Trump is going to win Michigan big; Ohio, too. The Republican establishment is betting everything that Trump can be blocked from winning Florida. Even if the establishment succeeds it is not clear that this will be enough to keep Trump from the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination prior to the convention.

Sanders had an excellent weekend, proof of which is to be found in The New York Times. The newspaper contorted its headlines to read Hillary the big winner because she won Louisiana. Never mind that Sanders won three out of four contests over the weekend. More of the same greets the Gray Lady's readers this morning. Hillary is declared the winner of last night's debate in Flint. I watched the entire two hours. There is absolutely no way to objectively declare Hillary the winner. She was completely demolished. So The New York Times is once again running interference for a woefully weak front-runner.

What is troubling for Sanders is that he is running behind Hillary in Michigan. Bernie, it seems to me, must be able to win a state like Michigan if he has any hope of catching Hillary. But as it stands now it looks like another Massachusetts, a split contest.

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