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September 08, 2015

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If you ask me, Merkel is the ultimate pragmatist. Securing her right flank and keeping her coalition partner (the center left SPD) docile at the same time is very high on her agenda. The European leaders are playing a game of Black Pete (Old Maid for the English speakers). And I think Merkel is fed up with the behaviour of the others that still believe they can morally blackmail Germany (her predecessor Kohl put up with a lot in order to build up the EU from the inside and many consider Merkel to be his naive fosterchild that can be easily abused). Now they cry foul because she is tougher than she looks and willing to throw her weight around if necessary (although mainly behind the scene).
Personally, I think that the main culprits at the moment are Hungary (marching further to the right every day) and Poland (where the religious Right is as rabid as in the US and even more influential). Greece can be excused at the moment given their own serious problems (otherwise their extreme xenophobia aimed in particular against people from Turkey and its neighbours would put them among the worst offenders). France has its own longstanding problems with the influx from North Africa (far worse than what Germany had to face until very recently) and Italy has been a general political basket case for far too long (with xenophobia a common political tool up to promises to have the navy sink refugee boats in front of TV cameras as a deterrent).
In other words no one really knows how to deal with the situation properly and Merkel's pragmatism shines just in contrast to the helplessness of her Western and the shamelessness of her Eastern and South Eastern neighbours. The Scandinavians are willing but their capacity is running out quickly.
Turkey and Lebanon are shouldering the heaviest burden at the moment by far and whatever one thinks of Erdogan, one cannot blame him for not keeping the floodgates 'protecting' Europe shut anymore.
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The real digestive final exits are of course the Gulf States. ISIS is their illegitimate lovechild but they have not taken a single refugee in (although they have opened their purses a good deal, admittedly).

That's a great comment and certainly rings very true to me. Would you mind if I lifted it up and put it in the post?

It's up to you, I have no problem with it.

> I also wonder if Merkel is driven by getting tired of playing the bad guy in the Greek crisis.

I am really worried about how this going to end in long run. Immigrant Integration work best on booming economy, there are nothing like work side by side with other people to make them accepted. But German insistence on Austerity is limiting job growth, even in Germany. I am worried that Merkel and Germany is considering asylum seeker only as refugee, to help them temporarily until Syrian War ends, not as future citizens. Caring for refugee is praiseworthy, of course, but they and their descendant will be better off in long run by becoming Germans rather than Syrians.

They might be better off, especially materially, s Germans. But they might prefer to be Syrians. At least, if they can return to their own country without being killed, raped, looted, etc.

It may be that conditions there will remain chaotic for decades. But then, we still have folks in Florida who dream of the day that they can return to (a Castro-less) Cuba. Of course, their children and grandchildren are mostly thoroughly American -- we have a long history of absorbing immigrants and acculturating their children. But the dream lives on.

That's a ridiculously generous assessment of Merkel. She's the ultimate domestic panderer who has done nothing but shaft the rest of Europe to prolong her own career while refusing to face the responsibility of German banks for their own misplaced loans. Basically she's a more efficient version of David Cameron who lucked into a fairly solid economy and has been profiting at the expense of everyone else while declining to undertake any meaningful action to improve the condition of the EU. As for Germany talking about other people using moral blackmail - well, let's remember who has benefited most from the astoundingly ill-advised integration of economically incompatible countries into the EU. Why, yes, that would be Germany, cheerfully wrecking the finances of other "partner" nations so that they can protect their own thoroughly corrupt financial institutions,all amid much moralistic slobbering about "irresponsible" and "dishonest" Greeks and other assorted victims of the German Way.

So who is she pandering to with this?

As for moral blackmail, I think (though he can correct me) Hartmut was referring to dealing with questions of war guilt. (I'm sure there is some multi syllable German word for it.) This is not to dismiss those aspects you mention, but I think you and Hartmut are talking about two different things.

I don't see much, if any, necessary contradiction between Hartmut's and SIW's comments, FWIW.

Just out of curiosity, SIW, is there a country whose financial institutions you do not consider "thoroughly corrupt"? Or a country whose politicians do not "pander"? (The non-democratic ones have politicians who only pander to the elites that support them, of course. But still.)

Some years ago, I'd have nominated the inhabitants of the island of Yap as having non-corrupt financial institutions, because those huge stone wheels they use as currency slows down the transactions.

But now it appears that someone started a futures market on stone-wheel value, and everything has gone to Hel.

Is our humans learning?

I can at least not fully disagree. But I think it was German weakness that led to Greece being 'in' in the first place not Germany bullying the other to to include Greece. The EU started (to a significant degree) as a project to keep Germany under control by non-military means and Germany saw it as a chance to finally become a part of the West (don't forget the fear to become a bargain chip in the Cold War and being sold to the Soviets). A primal fear of every post war German government was a return to the German 'Sonderweg' and the following isolation.
Until quite recently one could hear regular complaints (from the outside) that Germany refused to play a political role equal to its economic weight (and not just from US hawks that suddenly regretted to have reeducated Germans into pacifists [samw with Japan btw]).
The German austerity mania can be traced back to the early Weimar Republic and the hyperinflation. Since then it has been the 1st commandment to never ever again allow inflation to get out of hand. Anything above low single digit devaluation is to be treated as a Code Red situation. With the Euro that paranoia got extended to the whole EU which naturally angers those that lacked that traumatic experience. That deflation is not much better does not get through (and one even could argue that Hitler's rise was the result of the deflationary policy of the Brüning government after the World Economic Crisis that led to mass unemployment).
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Going back to the original topic, Merkel is aware that the active anti-integration policies towards the Turkish guest workers not only failed but created a major longterm problem: self-stabilizing ghettos. Integrated Turks would have dispersed, forcing newcomers to integrate themsleves too. Ghettoization allowed newcomers to live here without any attempts at acculturation. At least in the big cities it is possible to live as a Turk without a single word of German or any direct contact with Germans (apart from the authorities who will use interpreters and print forms in Turkish). Guestworkers were mainly recruited from the backwards parts of Turkey that also tend to be religious conservatives. That's were the radical islamists get their foothold. The ghettos also gave extra rise to xenophobia. Even neonazis will buy their groceries from the friendly Turk owning the single shop next door but foam at the mouth about the quarters of the city where seemingly the only German thing left are the street signs/names.
Merkel fears that the mass influx from the Middle East will turn into a similar situation. Since it cannot be stopped without acting like the donkey cavities in Budapest and Warsaw would like to do, the only remedy is to try full integration and dispersion from the start while looking for a better idea. Refugee camps have become the crystallization points for the new radical right. Previously the rightwing extremists always defeated themselves quickly because they lacked real leaders and a critical mass but a situation like this could lead to the latter and sooner or later breed the former. And everyone knows where that can lead. Not repeating the old mistakes is thus also motivated by pure self-preservation.

wj, Iceland at least tried after the financial catastrophe and cleaned house unlike any other country. It's of course much easier on a remote island with a population that would not fill what an USian would consider a medium sized town and that has a long experience with relying on itself.

Anti-integration policies and forced (or even just encouraged) ghettoization are always a mistake when immigration happens. Not that they don't recur, even in a country with as much experience with immigration as the US has.

Sometimes they are driven by ideals of racial purity. Sometimes by ideals of national culture (which, it seems, is so fragile that integrating newcomers into it might fracture it). Sometimes it is just a deep-seated dislike of change of any kind.

The thing is, unless you are going to totally shut off immigration, they don't work and are generally counterproductive in the long term.

Emotionally, there is sure to be an echo of reunification - Hungary was the first country behind the "iron curtain" that opened its borders to Eastern German refugees in September '89. But there is an other, older, but maybe stronger mental image - the German refugees out of Silesia and Sudetenland after WW2. Then, war-torn Germany took in about 12 million refugees, comprising in different regions of Germany between 12 to 25% of inhabitants. I think that especially the images of treks of people walking along roads and of overfilled trains wake an old memory here.

On the other hand, I second the idea of a pragmatic Chancellor Merkel - there is a chance that walls on the border will keep out people fleeing uncomfortable economic situations - there is no chance of them keeping out people fleeing for dear life. And images of drowned children, and - winter coming - kids freezing to death in some camp on the Hungarian border, make bad publicity. So better to take care of the situation now, than waiting for it to deteriorate.
Of those 800.000 to 1.000.000 asylum seekers in Germany this year, roughly 400.000 to 500.000 will be from the Western Balkan States. Of those, probably 1% will be granted aslylum, the rest will be sent back. The majority of other people will be from Syria, Eritrea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq. Asylum will be granted to nearly all people from Syria and Eritrea, and more than three quarters of people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.

One additional thought - to make the journey from Syria or other countries to the EU, those refugees will be paying several thousand Euro to people smugglers - the people who manage this do have assets - monetary, educational, or by family connections. They will not be the poor dirtgrubbing analphabet farmer, those will probably make it only as far as Jordan, but they will be lawyers, doctors, tradespeople, teachers and so on - a terrible brain drain for their countries of origin, even though no one can fault them for leaving, I would do so too, in their situation.

Just as a point of reference, 800,000 refugees is about 1% of the German population.

Not that Germany, specifically, should or will be obliged to shoulder the whole burden, but is that really a number that is simply too large to handle?

I mean, it's a big number, but relative to the overall population, maybe not so much?

Some of those folks will want to go back to their home country, many probably will not. But either way, is it a problem that will really overwhelm the EU's resources?

The main problem is less the absolute number than the rate at which they arrive. Since they arrive faster than they can be processed, they have to get provisional housing on the quick in less than ideal places, i.e. where the act as magnets for violent xenophobes. There is news of acts of arson against refugee housing or supected future sites of such almost on a daily basis.

This may be even a reason for Merkel's partial change of course towards a more refugee friendly policy. We simply can't afford to give the impression that we tacitly agree with those murderers with matches. Merkel's party in the not too distant past gave exactly that impression on the state level for political gain and that severely backfired on the federal level later. So, even from a purely partisan position her hands were to a degree forced.

Saudi Arabia Offers to Build 200 Mosques for Syrians in Germany: Why will the Saudis build 200 mosques for these "refugees", yet won't take a single one in?

CharlesWT,

It make you wonder why the Republican elite go out of their way to protect Arab monarchs. And I wonder if FOX News will do some investigative reporting on this.

@russell
those 800,000 people is up from 200,000 last year. 2013 it was 125,000. Full refugee status and the right to stay will probably be granted to some 500,000 people this year alone. And, with the war in Syria ongoing, ISIS gaining ground in northern Iraq, political tensions in Eritrea not abating, the number of refugees will very likely continue for the next several years at this level. At one point, it will be unsustainable for Germany, if other European partners will not help. Especially, since integration of these people will take longer than a year or two. Even though most Syrians I have met will do their very best to learn the language and to find a job, any job, schools and kindergardens will carry a heavy load. Three months after their arrival in Germany, all kids between 6 and 18 will be covered by the German law of compulsory school attendance, so the states have to fund (and find) more qualified teachers, class rooms and so on. Housing and basic needs has to be provided on the local level, sometimes already stretching the finances of poorer cities to the breaking point. Federal relief financing will filter slowly from the federal and state level down to the local level.
I believe it is our humanitarian duty to take care of those people, but I also think that we need to realistically view the costs and opportunities, which will be huge and ongoing.
Roughly 10% (8.2 million) registered residents in Germany do not have the German citizenship, illegal immigrants are estimated 500,000.

Currently doing my first school practical. One of my fellow students is doing his at a 'welcome school', i.e. a regular German school that has been designated to take large numbers of children of refugees. It is not easy to suddenly have 25% refugee kids as students (which also means to be 33% above normal school capacity, especially because schools around here already run at the limit* due to budgetary problems).

*Even at the school I am at classes are crowded despite the higher hurdles for admittance (a local specialty/privilege for schools that have a focus on Latin and classcial Greek).

At one point, it will be unsustainable for Germany, if other European partners will not help.

I find that completely believable, and thank you for the thoughtful and detailed comment.

I appreciate Germany's willingness to lead on this issue, regardless of the motives of the particular individuals involved.

I wish we here in the US were doing more.

I made the mistake of doing battle over the refugee crisis on facebook, noting the degree of responsibility the US has, given the clusterfnck of a war we waged in Iraq, and how much of the burden other countries were bearing. This was in response to the "Oh, noes!" over the news of the 10,000 Obama wanted to take in over the next fiscal year.

When people equate anyone from the Middle East, North Africa, and probably the Caucasus (if they even knew what that was), or anyone who is Muslim, with terrorists, what the hell can you say? Even pointing out how many small children are among the refugees does nothing to quell the bile people are spewing over this.

One of the regulars here, maybe cleek or ugh, said facebook is really about finding out how many stupid assh0les are among your friends (and I'd say family, too). It sucks.

"One of the regulars here, maybe cleek or ugh, said facebook is really about finding out how many stupid assh0les are among your friends"

Wait, you mean it's not about slamming a book into your face over and over until the yammering stops? I guess I had it all wrong.

Going back to the original topic, Merkel is aware that the active anti-integration policies towards the Turkish guest workers not only failed but created a major longterm problem: self-stabilizing ghettos.
Here in the US, we're looking at that and evidently thinking we want to take it as a model!

Well, it's easier when they are all stuck together. It's less likely that your* (private) progoms accidentally hit the wrong people or that the fires will spread to parts of town not yet to be torched. Same for the roundup by the state(s) for either forced labor or deportation. Btw, will 11 million skulls suffice to ornate the whole Southern Wall or will it take Jindal's proposed Aryan paragraph to provide the necessary once warm bodies? And that will still be not enough to cover the Northern Wall too (twice as long iirc). Cheap imitations are right out of course.

*not any YOU here in particular, if that has to be said.

It's a real challenge to come up with a definition of "Aryan" which will (properly) include Jindal while excluding (incorrectly) Hispanics. But no doubt some of the candidates will brave the contortions necessary to make it seem like they have.

The Nazis would not have had that problem. Hispanics are tainted by native blood from South America and the Spanish were tainted by semitic blood from North Africa in the first place. With India it is a matter of caste. It was of course the Aryans that overran India, enslaved the natives and build the first culture there (Sparta on a grand scale). Bobby just needs to fake a family tree that connects him to the original Aryan invaders (throwing in a Roman centurio would not hurt either*). What caste is he originally?

*or at least a Macedon officer in the army of Alexander the Great.

From what I can find, the Jindal family is from the bania, or “trader” caste. Which means that it does have Aryan origins . . . although how much "mongrelization" has occured between the Indian castes is something I didn't find much information on.

As I've pointed out elsewhere here, the Republican Party is a big tent which will act affirmatively and without other qualification, except bullet-headed malignancy, to recruit every jagoff and malignant asshole in the country, regardless of race, color, gender and creed, to further its ends.

They need these thug clowns to supplant the decent RINOs left in the Party.

The process is nearly complete.

Very little time left.

In the interest of bi-partisanship and calling out my own, whatever that means, Hillary Clinton's "plan" to appear more spontaneous on the campaign trail in future is lame, ridiculous, typically overguarded, overly deliberate, even hooded, and maneuvering.

When she joins the Republicans in their "plans" to murder 10 million Americans on Obamacare and Medicaid, boxcar 11 million immigrants and their children, many to certain privation and even death, and eviscerate Medicare and Social Security, etc, I won't be able to stomach voting for her.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, the moderate, is unelectable.

Because of the Republican lynch mobs that will make a noose out of the word "socialist", as if any of them can know what that means.

Traders? Us Nazis no like traders, Jew trader, Jew bad, thus traders bad. Bobby needs better family tree treatment and more bleaching before we bestow Aryanity on him. But not all hope is lost. If the limping poisonous dwarf* could do it, Bobby might manage too. Low-born USians of GOPist persuasion are even more stupid than average German under Nazis.
But his stupid campaign motto bodes ill. Well, at least it is not 'I am a GOPee'.**

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gopi

Ah, but "trader" = "business man" = "good"!

But it needs to be the right kind of businessman. Must be bloody and soily enough.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_and_Soil

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