The foreign policy pursued by Brussels is only partially to blame for EU’s failures
The internecine and tragic events that have overtaken Europe over the last number of weeks and months have had a wearying affect throughout the continent and beyond. Three of our own citizens were brutally murdered along with thirty Britons in Tunisia by an apparent ISIS fanatic. The Greek economic crisis continuously rumbles on illuminating the fragility of both the Euro currency and indeed the European project. At the same time people have allowed themselves to feel good at the fact that at last count the Irish naval ship the “LE Eithne” has rescued 3,400 fleeing refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
Yet should we rejoice in this humanitarian undertaking? I’m certainly hesitant to, and it seems that after the documents that were released to RTE from the government under the freedom of information act this week that I wasn’t the only one either. One of the briefing documents for an EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting read, “Search and rescue missions have inadvertently encouraged criminals to provide even less seaworthy vessels on the grounds that the migrants will be rescued at sea”. Quite obviously this stance has now changed, yet exactly why it has remains unclear. Our original stance seemed to be strangely pragmatic but now we have had a change of heart. Yes many have been recused. But would these refugees have needed rescuing in the first place were it not for a meddling West and a docile Europe waging nonsense wars and in our case facilitating them.
On the Pragmatic level, our stance was originally right in that rescuing these poor people takes away any deterrent to the criminals that traffic these individuals. The European approach to this issue has been at best earnest, but it is thoroughly short-sighted. Australia handle a similar problem quite differently and it appears effective. The released documents also infer that this issue would have “Little direct impact” upon Ireland. Really? Where does the government think these refugees will all be staying? In Italy? Unlikely. From a government that has recently being giving us guff about fast tracking its current asylum seekers because of our system’s inefficiency as well as cancelling President Higgins’ visit to refugee centres, our actions may simply turn out to be startlingly naïve in the future.
If that sounds harsh than we must ask ourselves why has David Cameron been so reluctant to become involved in sending British naval ships to partake in these rescue missions? I have no doubt myself that Cameron is playing to the gallery for political capital regarding anti EU sentiment in Britain, but his actions do illustrate there is no clear plan in place for dealing with the refugee crisis.
But the refugee crisis is merely part of a wider inertia that has taken over Europe. I believe these crises originate from two foolhardy goals that have marked out much of Europe’s (and by extension the West’s) unrealistic expectations towards the end of the last century. One of a borderless, one currency, liberal Europe since the fall of the USSR, and the other the doomed attempt of NATO to remould the Middle East which the reaction to 9/11 gave the opportunity for. Quite simply, large parts of the Middle East are now chaotic, the drowned migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, many of whom were women and children testify to this. The war on terror that has now mutated into the war against the ever sprawling and barbaric ISIS has become a strange and unknowable conflict. The BBC’s tendency to refer to this enemy as “The Islamic state” conferring upon them a sort officialdom due to their knee jerk political correctness illustrates how confusing this conflict has become.
I don’t believe the idea that this conflict does not affect us. The legitimacy of wars are an ethical and universal issue, wars have grave consequences, the 38 people dead in Tunisia, three of them Irish, testify to that fact. Like many I thought the remarks of the British Labour party candidate of Aylesbury William Cass regarding the repatriation of the dead as being treated like fallen soldiers being wrong merely because they were on holiday was not just ill-timed but essentially stupid, Britain after all is a country at war. Yet Mr Cass’ remarks got me thinking about our dead, we are assured that the families wanted privacy at this time, and we must of course respect that. But how do we as a nation
regard this war on terror? Yes tragic accidents occur in life, but although this was tragic, the events in Tunisia were no accident, they were part of a wider calculated war. I thought the insinuations voiced by some to me about how the national mourning offered towards the victims of the recent Berkeley tragedy in California were related to the upper social class of the victims was fatuously stupid. Yet on reflection that was a certainly more mourned tragedy by the state. The reasons for this could be many, the victims at Berkeley were deeply young for one, and the death toll outnumbered the Irish casualties in Tunisia.
Some may argue that it is pointless to reflect on such things, yet the governments and our reactions to the Tunisian massacre may be quite telling. How is it that we view this war on terror? A war that no one seems bothered to fight any more if President Obama’s latest remarks on the subject are anything to go by. So justice will seemingly evade the families of Lorna Carty and Laurence and Martina Hayes. We are the neutral country, placid perhaps, sometimes helpful in offering our airports for others military planes on route to war zones. We could not have even fought in the war against the tyrant Hitler had we wanted to despite the suggestions of the British advances for us to do exactly that, so our universities convince us anyway.
All history long gone, yet in a world where uncredited rumours swell that the men who carried out the atrocity in Tunisia were trained in Libya, a country in which a disastrous coup was sponsored by NATO and the regime previous to that was quite friendly with the IRA. Is it ridiculous to imagine the fleeing assailant Abu Yahya Qayrawani who got away may one day attempt to escape to Europe disguised as a refugee in precariously unseaworthy boat? The Known terrorist Abdel Majid Touil did so
after the Tunisian museum attack on the 18th of March which twenty people were killed. We must always reflect.
About the Author:
Shane Flanagan is going on to do his masters in Trinity College Dublin. He completed his degree this year in Literature and Theology at All Hallows College. He enjoys long walks on the beach and poetry. He is a Libra and he lives up to it.