Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Gutting the INF: Bolton Must be Stopped

 

by JOE CIRINCIONE

 

John Bolton relishes in targeting nuclear arms treaties. He is very good at it.

The U.S. national security adviser’s latest hit is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but his list of victims goes back decades. He had a hand in either the U.S. withdrawal or repeal of Richard Nixon’s Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Bill Clinton’s Agreed Framework with North Korea and Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.

Now he has helped put the knife into Ronald Reagan’s landmark treaty, one that broke the back of the nuclear arms race in 1987. It was the first time that the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to destroy, not just limit, nuclear weapons. Together they destroyed almost 2,700 perfectly good nuclear weapons that they had spent billions of dollars and many years building. It began the process of massive reductions in global nuclear arms that continued until the current administration.

Why is Bolton against these nuclear security treaties that Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, have championed? Because he thinks they make America weak. In 1999, he decried the liberal “fascination with arms-control agreements as a substitute for real non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” A year later, he ridiculed “the Church of Arms Control.”

For Bolton and others like him, these agreements are part of the effort by the global Lilliputians to tie down the American Gulliver. In his mind, we must have maximum flexibility and multiple military options to preserve our security and interests around the world. We must protect our nation with military might, not pieces of paper.

Russia is likely in violation of the INF Treaty. It has deployed missiles near its border with Europe at ranges that exceed those allowed by the agreement. But when someone breaks the law, the answer is not to repeal the law. There are well-established methods for bringing an offending nation back into compliance. Reagan, in fact, negotiated the INF Treaty while the Soviets were in violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. He pushed and cajoled them for several years. After signing the INF Treaty, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev relented and shut down the offending radar. We could do the same for the INF Treaty by pushing for an agreement on mutual inspections, as many experts have suggested.

But Bolton does not want to fix the treaty; he wants to kill it. “Violations give America the opportunity to discard obsolete, Cold War-era limits on its own arsenal and to upgrade its military capabilities to match its global responsibilities,” Bolton wrote in 2014.

America will pay a high price for this rigid ideology. President Trump walking out of Reagan’s treaty is a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It doesn’t fix the problem; it makes it worse. Now, there will be no restraints whatsoever on Putin’s ability to deploy hundreds of missiles, should he desire. The United States will likely be blamed for the collapse of the treaty, widening the split within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Europeans are already shaken by the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Iran nuclear deal. This will increase their doubts about U.S. commitment to their security.

All this plays into Putin’s hands. It raises serious questions about whether Putin and Trump discussed this in any of their five secretive meetings. Whatever Bolton’s ideological agenda, this is certainly helping not hurting Putin’s Russia.

This goes beyond geopolitical advantage. For those who followed the arms race of the 1980s, it feels like déjà vu to again watch countries matching adversaries’ military deployments with their own in a futile effort to overcome or intimidate. And this time, it isn’t just a two-nation race. For some, the real payoff for leaving the INF Treaty is that it will allow the United States to deploy new missiles against China’s medium and intermediate-range missiles, even though we already have multiple ways to target their systems and vastly more nuclear weapons.

Thankfully, Congress has indicated that it will not idly watch as the nuclear security house burns down. Last Thursday, 10 senators, led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and including three Democratic 2020 presidential candidates, introduced legislation barring any funding for any new weapon that would violate the INF Treaty. The House is certain to follow suit.

Congressional and European pressure may yet combine to pull Trump back from this self-destructive brink. European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini called on Friday for both sides to stick to the treaty. “What we definitely don’t want to see is our continent going back to being a battlefield or a place where other superpowers confront themselves,” she said. “This belongs to a faraway history.”

The danger is that the INF Treaty is not the last arms control treaty to die. Many fear that Bolton has his eyes on the New START agreement that limits long-range nuclear forces. That treaty expires in 2021, unless we act to extend it. Otherwise, for the first time since 1972, there will be no limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces.

Bolton must be stopped before he strikes again.

This was produced by The WorldPost, a partnership of the Berggruen Institute and The Washington Post, where this column originally appeared.

Advertisements

“THE ART OF WAR”
The « great game » of military bases in Africa
by Manlio Dinucci
Created in 2007 on the findings of an Israëli study, AfriCom (US Command for Africa) has never yet managed to install its headquarters on the continent. This structure carries out anti-terrorist operations from Germany, with the support of France in the region of the Sahel. In return, US and French transnational companies conserve a privileged access to African prime materials.
In June 2018, Nancy Lindborg, director of the US Institute of Peace (USIP), visited the headquarters of AfriCom in Stuttgart. The USIP is the equivalent of the NED for the Department of Defense. It develops « humanitarian » actions just like the NED promotes « democracy ». Obviously, this is not a philanthropic foundation by the Pentagon, but a tool for its Intelligence services.
Italian soldiers on mission in Djibouti have offered sewing machines to the humanitarian organisation which aids the refugees in this tiny country in the Horn of Africa. It is situated in a strategic position on the most important commercial Asia-Europe route, at the mouth of the Red Sea, facing Yemen. Italy has a military base there, which, since 2012, « supplies logistical support for Italian military operations located in the area of the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin and the Indian Ocean ».
So in Djibouti, then, it would seem that the Italian military are not dealing exclusively with sewing machines.
In the exercise Barracuda 2018, which took place last November, chosen sharp-shooters from the Special Forces (whose headquarters are in Pisa) underwent training in all sorts of environmental conditions, including night operations, with the most sophisticated high-precision rifles which can centre the target at a distance of one or two kilometres. We do not know in which operations the Special Forces participated, since their missions are kept secret – however it is certain that they took place essentially in a multinational context under US command.
In Djibouti is situated Camp Lemonnier, the huge US base from which the Horn of Africa Joint Task Force has been operating since 2001. The Task Force is composed of 4,000 specialists in top secret missions, including targeted assassinations by commandos or killer drones, particularly in Yemen and Somalia. While aircraft and helicopters for these special operations take off from Camp Lemonnier, the drones have been concentrated at Chabelley airport, a dozen kilometres from the capital. New hangars are being built there, and the work has been handed by the Pentagon to a company from Catania which is already employed for the work taking place in Sigonella, the main drones base used by the USA and NATO for operations in Africa and the Greater Middle East.
There is also a Japanese and a French base in Djibouti, which house German and Spanish troops. A Chinese military base was added in 2017, the only one outside of its national territory. Apart from certain basic logistical functions, such as the housing of the crews of the military vessels that escort merchant ships, and warehouses for the storage of supplies, it represents a significant signal of the growing Chinese presence in Africa.
This is an essentially economic presence, to which the United States and other Western powers oppose a growing military presence. This accounts for the intensification of operations led by AfriCom (US Command for Africa), which has two important subordinate Commands in Italy – the US Army Africa, at the Ederle de Vicence barracks ; the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, whose headquarters is at the Capodichino base in Naples, composed of the warships of the Sixth Fleet based in Gaeta.
In the same strategic infrastructure is another US base for armed drones, which is under construction in Agadez, Niger, where the Pentagon already uses air base 101 in Niamey for drones. This base serves for military operations that the USA has been leading for years, with France in the Sahel, especially in Mali, Niger and Chad. President Giuseppe Conte will be visiting the last two bases as from tomorrow.
These countries are amongst the poorest in the world, but very rich in prime materials – coltan, uranium, gold, oil and many others – exploited by transnational companies based in the USA and in France, who are increasingly afraid of the competition from Chinese companies who offer African countries much more favourable conditions.
The attempt to halt the Chinese economic advance by military means, in Africa and elsewhere, is beginning to fail. Probably even the sewing machines, donated to Djibouti by Italian soldiers for the refugees, are « made in China ».
Manlio Dinucci

Manlio Dinucci
Geographer and geopolitical scientist. His latest books are Laboratorio di geografia, Zanichelli 2014 ; Diario di viaggio, Zanichelli 2017 ; L’arte della guerra / Annali della strategia Usa/Nato 1990-2016, Zambon 2016. Guerra nucleare. Il giorno prima. Da Hiroshima a oggi: chi e come ci porta alla catastrofe, Zambon 2017; Diario di guerra. Escalation verso la catastrofe (2016 – 2018), Asterios Editores 2018.

Neoliberalism

DECEMBER 26, 2018

Bolsonaro’s Brazil: Chicago Boy-style Neoliberalism

by WOUTER HOENDERDAAL

 

On January 1, 2019, Jair Bolsonaro will begin his four-year term as Brazil’s president. Everyone expects his government to follow a neoliberal path. The only question that seems to remain is how far they can actually go.

When it comes to neoliberal reforms, all eyes are on Paulo Guedes, Brazil’s next minister of the economy, who will head a ‘super-ministry’ that combines finance, industry, trade and planning.

Guedes is a committed neoliberal. He not only earned his PhD at the University of Chicago where he was taught by the extreme right-wing economist Milton Friedman, but he is also a well-known fan of the Chicago boy economists who managed Chile’s economy during the Pinochet dictatorship, turning Chile into the first experiment in neoliberalism in Latin America.

During that time Guedes taught economics at the University of Chile, demonstrating he has no moral objections serving under a right-wing authoritarian, be it General Pinochet of Chile or Brazil’s incoming president Jair Bolsonaro. And when it comes to Brazil, Guedes is set on a “Pinochet-style” fix of the economy: “The Chicago boys saved Chile, fixed Chile, fixed the mess”, he stated in a Financial Times interview. Guedes now has set his sights on ‘fixing’ the Brazilian economy in a similar way.

In the last few weeks, it has become clear that Guedes has surrounded himself with other Chicago graduates. Joaquim Levy, who apparently has no problem shifting his political allegiance in order to get into any position of power, will head the powerful Brazilian Development Bank. Another Chicago graduate, Roberto Castello Branco, will serve as Petrobras chief executive. Several other Chicago trained economists such as Ruben Novaes are also given important positions in finance and trade. Bloomberg refers to this gathering of neoliberal fanatics as “Milton Friedman’s Brazil moment”, and international investors and news outlets such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal do not attempt to hide their enthusiasm, because they know what is about to happen.

Guedes wants to implement the usual neoliberal reforms such as privatization, deregulation and the liberalization of trade. One can get an idea about the likely outcomes of such neoliberal policies when looking back at another period of neoliberal reform in Brazil that began in 1990.

The year 1990 ushered in the neoliberal age in Brazil, which made Brazil a relative latecomer compared to other Latin American countries. Among several policies, programs such as privatization, deregulation and the opening up of the economy to foreign trade were core aspects of the neoliberal agenda.

Privatization means selling off State-owned enterprises. Between 1991 and 2005, over 120 State-owned enterprises were auctioned, beginning with mining and steel industries and then followed by petrochemical, fertilizer, aerospace and telecommunication companies plus parts of the power generation and distribution systems, ports and railways. Barriers against the entry of foreign capital were lifted, which allowed foreign, mainly Western, multinationals to get their share of the spoils from privatization and deregulation.

Because the government sold to the highest bidder, the main beneficiaries were giant domestic corporations and foreign multinationals. U.S. and European firms came to own increasingly larger shares of the Brazilian economy, including public utilities, the financial sector and many of Brazil’s most traditional brands.

The way these programs were carried out favored profits over wages, economist Werner Baer writes. They were not designed to benefit working people and may have even worsened the country’s notorious wealth and income inequality.

Besides privatizing large parts of the economy, the 1990’s also witnessed Brazil opening itself up to the global economy. With the stroke of a pen, tariffs and other non-tariff barriers were drastically reduced over a period of only a few years. This was an enormous break with the past, because it marked the end of a four-decade period of protectionism. The result, especially when considered from a long-term historical perspective, was a stunning shift within the economy.

Although Brazil’s State-led industrialization program between the 1950s until the 1980s was not as successful as the ones carried out in Japan or South Korea, it did lead to a relatively well-diversified manufacturing sector. The sudden shift to free trade, something which Japanese and Korean policymakers had always resisted, exposed Brazil’s industry to Western competition. Most of the Brazilian producers were not yet capable of handling this. As a result, many industries collapsed or were taken over by Western capital, including the auto part industry, one of Brazil’s key manufacturing sectors.

While the share of medium and high-technology products in Brazil’s manufacturing dropped because domestic producers were unable to compete with foreign corporations, Brazil increasingly imports its high-technology products from abroad. Even Brazil’s pride, the aircraft producer Embraer, imports most of its equipment from the West.

In response to the industrial downturn, Brazil’s economy shifted to areas in which it has a comparative advantage, which unfortunately means agriculture and raw materials, such as soybeans, iron ore and oil. According to the World Trade Organization database, in the years following the neoliberal reforms the share of manufactured products dropped from nearly 60% of exports to under 40% while the share of basic products (agriculture and raw materials) increased from 42% to around 60%.

The neoliberal reforms thus pushed Brazil back towards its traditional colonial service role within the global economy, one in which Brazil produces the low value-added raw materials in exchange for foreign high value-added manufactured goods.

Whereas Korea, the Island of Taiwan and more recently mainland China (who all have resisted the full implementation of neoliberalism) have guided their economies away from primary commodities and towards industrialization, Brazil’s economy under neoliberalism has moved in the opposite direction.

Guedes obsession with privatization and other neoliberal reforms will only reinforce this unfortunate development that began with the embrace of neoliberalism in the 1990s. Ironically, perhaps the only one who can restrain Brazil’s Chicago boy is Bolsonaro himself.

Bolsonaro has never been a true neoliberal. On the contrary, the president-elect feels nostalgia for the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 until 1985. Under military rule, Brazil’s economy was guided by State interventionist policies – the opposite of neoliberalism. But although the economic policies implemented by the Brazilian Generals violated many neoliberal principles, the outcome for the population, as described in detail by the historian Thomas Skidmore, was very much the same in at least one important aspect: economic growth under military dictatorship mainly benefited wealthy elites, and inequality, already very bad in Brazil, actually increased.

So although only Bolsonaro may be in a position to put the brakes on some of the neoliberal reforms his economic team wants to unleash, one should not expect economic policy that benefits working people, but policy that is designed to benefit groups who love neoliberalism and supported Bolsonaro’s campaign for the presidency, such as wealthy landowners and the financial sector. Meanwhile, foreign investors and Western multinationals will also surely reap many of the spoils.

If a new wave of neoliberalism sweeps Brazil, it will almost certainly reduce prospects for meaningful economic development that benefits the majority of people. Events in the past few decades have already demonstrated neoliberalism’s harmful effects on many occasions, including in Brazil itself. Unfortunately, history is on the verge of repeating itself once again.

 

Washington wants to put an end to the war in Yemen

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 1 NOVEMBER 2018

On 30 October 2018, General James Mattis, the Defense Secretary, spoke at the US Institute of Peace and announced that it was his intention to put an end to the war in Yemen in less than 30 days.

Washington hopes that it will be supported by Martin Griffiths (United Kingdom). He is the Special Representative for the UN, Secretary General, and former director of the European Institute of Peace. The first president of this institution was Steffan de Mistura. He then went on to become the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria. The European Institute for Peace is the sister organization of its US homonym. Ronald Raegan established the US Institute at the same time as NED. The thinking: the US Peace Institute would be a special purpose vehicle for the Pentagon, just as the Ned was for the Pentagon.

Last week Martin Griffiths was received in Washington. He gave a long interview on the Saudi TV Channel, Al-Arabiya . It seems that his mission is to help Saudi Arabia to clamber out of the cesspool a product of its own waste, in which it was drowning in Yemen. Yemen, like Afghanistan, is a country that has always resisted invaders and which has never been able to be occupied.

The words of Jim Mattis were immediately echoed by Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

This war is an initiative of Mohamed Ben Salmane who is both the Saudi Crown Prince and Saudi Minister of Defense. Its aim: to enable Saudi to pull the strings of the Yemen government. Why? so Saudi Arabia can exploit the oil reserves to be found in the region between the two countries. It was undertaken with Israel’s help as Israel and Saudi share a joint general staff in Somaliland. It seemed that up until now the Prince’s initiative was integrated into the Pentagon’s general strategy which was to destroy the state structures of the enlarged Middle East (Cebrowski Doctrine).

Dr. Newitol Is Here To Add To Your Confusion: (21-30)

Posted On September 19, 2018

  1. Curious from Hmeret Kelboy asks, ” why did Eritrea and Ethiopia sign their peace agreements 3 times?

Dr. Newitol: One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now, go, cat, go. The one signed in Eritrea was for the money (from UAE to Ethiopia.) The one signed in Abu-Dhabi was for the show: bling, bling. And the one in Jeddah was clearly because Saudi Arabia sits on the Human Rights Council and is an authority on human rights.  Now go, cat, go. (See also question 25.)

  1. Even more confused in Nazreth, Ethiopia: So, how did Lemma Megersa become a bad guy overnight?

Dr. Newitol: His police commissioner said, “I couldn’t catch the criminals in Burayu because they are hiding from me.”  He also told his wife, “I couldn’t buy the groceries because I lost the grocery list you gave me.” The birr stops with the regional president even in an inflationary market.

  1. Khelifa from Omdurman, Sudan asks, “why wasn’t my country invited to the Peace & Friendship Agreement in Saudi Arabia! Everyone know we Sudanese are very peacy and friendy!  

Dr. Newitol: Door # 1 has Iran, Door # 2 has Qatar, Door # 3 has Turkey, Door # 4 has Saudi Arabia and UAE.  You guys chose the wrong door. The Saudis and Emiratis do not like the Muslim Brotherhood and they are looking for a Sudanese to sisi Omar Albashir on his friendly ass. Also because Isaias Afwerki has to have at least one enemy at a time.

  1. Shengeb from Halib Mentel asks, “do you have any information on the arrest of Berhane Abrehe and do you expect any reaction from Eritreans?”

Dr. Newitol: My notes say he was under house arrest for a month until they gathered enough evidence about him. Then, when they did,  he was able to proudly walk to his car in his dignified clothes and he was presented with an arrest warrant. Remember, this is for a man who is accused of being responsible for heinous human rights violations involving hyenas and lions and burning 7 churches and…

 

wait, I think I have my files confused. I confused civilized Ethiopia with backward Eritrea. I was telling you about Ethio Somalia regional president Abdi Omar Mohammed. You are asking me about the Eritrean? He was having breakfast with his son at a public place, security officers hauled him to their car and nobody said or did anything. The country appears to be in a state of permanent trauma.  The Eritrean opposition is discussing what took him so long to speak up (they would tell a prisoner of war why didn’t you surrender earlier.)

  1. Andom from Adi Keyh (College of Arts and Social Sciences) asks: Abraham Isaias Afwerki (AiA) was my classmate and he had a 0.2 matriculation. What is he doing in Zalambesa and Jeddah and what exactly is his title?

Dr. Newitol: His title is “President-in-waiting.” I don’t know why this is a big deal. For the last 17 years he was being trained to be a successor and now it’s the citizens turn to be trained about him. His title, for now, is Chairman of the High-Level Joint Committee which will guide and oversee the implementation of the Agreement. This is very important for the peace and friendship of Eritrea and Ethiopia because the last time the two countries had a high-level joint committee, the Eritreans (hard-core EPLF) didn’t like the Ethiopians (hard-core TPLF), and vice-versa  and they had a bloody war. President Isaias Afwerki, a man of peace,  is wisely placing a highly qualified man in the position: someone who has no hostility to Ethiopia and, working from the President’s office, can overcome bottlenecks.  Sounds very efficient and peaceful and friendly to me.

  1. “Still say whati!ing” from Washington, DC asks, “I was attending a public seminar conducted by Eritrea’s Charge d’affaires Berhane G Solomon and he said those in prison in Eritrea are better off than those who are not in prison. Can you please explain what he meant?

Dr. Newitol: Why is everything politicized? He is talking science! The challenge in Africa is food, medicine, shelter.  And free from fear of government that will arrest you. Those in prison never have to worry about that. Out in Asmara, at a restaurant you have to pay 2 Nakfas for a cup of water. You can also do a lot of reading in prison. So, really, what is there to argue with his logic? Families are a nuisance anyway.

  1. Zrefom from Asmara asks, “I work for Red Sea Trading Corporation. Do you have any recommendation where we should base our office in Ethiopia?”

Dr. Newitol: You will need two offices. One is in the Eritrean embassy where diplomatic pouches are still untouchable, confederation or not. There is a large diplomatic community in Addis Abeba and someone has to provide the cocaine, amirite? The other is at Assosa, which has a huge farmland for cash crops (weed, khat) and it also happens to be very close to the Sudanese border.

  1. Aradom Abkeyom from Mekele asks, “in one of his first addresses to Ethiopian parliament, PM Abiye said that the Ethiopian people are entitled to hour-by-hour, day-by-day updates of EPRDF meetings. I know EPRDF had a meeting last week. Where is the report?”

Dr. Newitol: It takes a lot of time to edit out the parts that are not good for the public to hear. He is just looking out for the interest of the people. What are you, people-hater? All his talk was before his frequent visits with Isaias Afwerki, anyway, who has told him to introduce “bego adraginet” to the restless youth. And Gnbot-7, Arbegnoch, ETV all say Eritrean National Service is great so, huh, huh, huh?

  1. Semhar from Senafe says: “Man, my town is just flooded with people coming and going. My question is: are all these Eritreans going to Ethiopia coming back?”

Dr. Newitol: Coming back from what to what? It is all one big country. I don’t understand your question: are you against free movement of people?

  1. Simon from Atlanta, GA: What is going on in these pictures? I am from the South and I went home to Ethiopia and this look like something I am familiar with in Atlanta but I am trying to be culturally sensitive?

Dr. Newito: Just some youth went to a church to pray and got lost. And the nice lawman was escorting them out. In the courtyard, they lost

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” George Carlin

This covers a lot. Enough said.

Mekonen Haddis, Professor.

JULY 10, 2018

Keeping Your Refugees: Macron, Francafrique and Euro-African Relations

Ties between Europe and Africa have never been rosy. A relationship based on predatory conquest and the exploitation of resources (slave flesh, minerals, and such assortments) is only ever going to lend itself to farce and display rather than sincerity.  The late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, whose death must be placed squarely at the feat of the Franco-Anglo-American intervention in the Libyan conflict of 2011, typified the cruelly distorted relationship, a man who morphed from erratic, third way statesman of revolution to terrorist inspired “Mad Dog”; then to a modern, if cartoonish figure capable of rehabilitating a state from pariah to flattered guest.

A neat expression of Euro-African ties was captured in the 2007 Dakar address by then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  Like the current French President Emmanuel Macron, Sarkozy wanted to make an impression on those in what had been formerly characterised as the Dark Continent.  The leaders of the Maghreb and West Africa had been led to believe that promise was wafting in the air, that France would have a grand update on its relationship with former colonies on the continent. The system of Francafrique, larded with neo-colonial connotation, would be scrapped.  Sweet sensible equality would come to be.

An impression he did make, albeit in spectacularly negative, sizzling fashion.  “The tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into history… They have never really launched themselves into the future.”

Sarkozy’s speech seemed a cribbed version of texts produced at a time when European officials were falling over each in other in acquiring, and renting portions of the continent.  But in 2007, a French leader could still be found speculating about the limited world view of African agrarianism, its peasantry cocooned from enlightenment.  “The African peasant only knew the eternal renewal of time, marked by the endless repetition of the same gestures and the same words.”  This, for the French President, was a “realm of fancy – there is neither room for human endeavour nor the idea of progress.”

The impact of the speech was such as to prompt Senegal’s foremost scribe Boubacar Boris Diop to suggest a cognitive confusion of some scale.  “Maybe he does not realise to what extent we felt insulted.”  Defences were offered in France, one coming from Jean-Marie Bockel. The speech, he concluded, had one thread through it: “the future of Africa belongs firstly to the Africans.”

And so now, in 2018, where history has again become an issue, throwing up its human cargo of suffering from conflict, poverty and strong shades of neo-colonialism, France, fashioned as a European leader, again finds itself considering how to respond to relations with the southern continent.

For various African states, the signs are not good. Historical condescension and the sneer seemingly persists.  Macron, in an effort to steady the refugee control effort in the European Union, has gone into full school teacher mode.  The EU, he has iterated, cannot take decisions on behalf of African states, though he does suggest that, “Helping Africa to succeed is good for Europe and France.”

African states also suffered from a distinct problem of fecundity: unplanned population growth threatened further northward migration. Immigrant processing centres in North Africa designed to halt the flow into Europe’s south, he suggests, “can fly, just if some African governments decide to organise it”.

This is something Macron has been onto for a time, and it replicates a broader formula adopted by wealthier states to more impoverished ones.  No doubt eyeing such ghoulish experiments as Australia’s Pacific Solution, which shifts the burden of processing and assessing refugee claims to small, low-income Nauru and unstable Papua New Guinea, Macron suggested in 2017 that states such as Libya carry the can, a suggestion as absurd as it is venal.

In August that year, he ventured, with agreement from German, Spanish and Italian counterparts, to focus on the setting up of migrant processing centres in Libya, Chad and Niger.  These would involve European resources to help create and sustain them.  The gaping flaw of this suggestion, one carried over into the EU negotiations last week, ignores the shattered status of Libya, a state in all but name.

Such plans, in the assessment of Left MEP Malin Björk, were “tainted by structural racism towards the African population”. In the opinion of the Swedish MEP, “Europe has not right to criminalise mobility of movement especially not in third countries.”  Such views are coming across as marginally quaint in the hard nosed and distinctly inhumane line of EU politics.

The value of Macron’s schooling is also compounded by manifold problems on what Europe actually intends to do.  The EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan that came into force on March 20, 2016 was meant to be a holy of holies, stemming the flow of refugees into frontline Greece.  It came with the natural consequence of shifting the routes of movement towards the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean.  Like aqueous matter, human flows will find a way.

Macron is only speaking for Europe in one respect: regaining control of borders and putting the refugee genie as far as possible back into the bottle.  Disagreement reigns over the method.  During negotiations in Brussels, EU leaders agreed, for instance, that “regional embarkation platforms” established outside the zone would be implemented to target the people-smuggling process.  In principle, it was also agreed that there would be secure migrant processing centres set up in EU countries.

On this point, member states remain deafeningly silent, though Macron has insisted on the traditional formula that states who first receive the migrants should have those centres. The current Italian government hardly sees the point of why; other EU states are more than fit to also conduct such processes.

As such squabbling to the richer North takes place, the impecunious South will simply continue to be a massive conduit of dangerous, often deadly travel.  This, along with Francafrique notions and various lacings of European suspicion towards African states, will continue with headstrong stubbornness.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Top of Form