Democrats and Non-Trump Republicans Share Views

Traffic is reflected in the glass of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan, New York, October 23, 2011
Traffic is reflected in the glass of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan, New York, October 23, 2011 (Dave Powell)

On immigration and trade, Republicans who opposed Donald Trump have more in common with Democrats than they do with fellow party members who backed the businessman from the start.

A SurveyMonkey poll conducted for the website FiveThirtyEight found that whereas 76 percent of Trump’s supporters want immigration to fall, only 21 percent of anti-Trump Republicans agree it must come down. That’s close to the 26 percent of Democrats who say immigration is too high.

61 percent of non-Trump Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats, by contrast, agree that immigration should stay more or less the same. The remaining 17 and 22 percent, respectively, would welcome higher immigration.

There is similar cross-party agreement on trade. Half of Trump’s supporters think trade deals are bad for the American economy; only 20 percent of anti-Trump Republicans agree against 28 percent of all Democrats.

By contrast, 55 percent of Republicans who don’t support Trump think free trade is generally good for the economy, as do 43 percent of Democrats. Read more “Democrats and Non-Trump Republicans Share Views”

A Little Bombing Is Not Going to Stop Refugees

A German Tornado jet takes off from Rostock-Laage Airport, May 20, 2015
A German Tornado jet takes off from Rostock-Laage Airport, May 20, 2015 (Bundeswehr/Oliver Lang)

The American Interest has a bizarre piece that suggests European countries should do more “icky things like dropping bombs” to stem the refugee flow from the Middle East and North Africa.

The publication’s Nicholas M. Gallagher criticizes European Union plans to boost aid spending for the region, arguing that such plans in practice mean “bribing the local government to do the kind of deterrence work Europe would rather not do itself.”

There’s something to this. Consider the EU deal with Turkey, which gave the latter €6 billion in financial support to cope with refugees as well as the promise of visa liberalization.

But Gallagher oversimplifies. Turkey is housing and providing for nearly one million war refugees from neighboring Syria. It actually needs the money. You can call it a bribe; it’s still supposed to end up helping people. (Whether or not the Turks will use the money the way they’re supposed to is another matter.)

Moreover, the deal with Turkey has had an effect. Gallagher neglects to mention this, but the number of people reaching Greek shores from across the Aegean has fallen dramatically since Turkey started taking back migrants who made the journey.

There is plenty to criticize here. I have too. No one is saying this is a perfect solution by any stretch. It’s a stop-gap measure at best. Read more “A Little Bombing Is Not Going to Stop Refugees”

Clear-Eyed Danes Have Lessons on Immigration

Copenhagen Denmark
Cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark (iStock/Leo Patrizi)

As European countries struggle to cope with a record-high influx of asylum seekers this year, there is a thing or two they could learn from Denmark, writes James Kirchick in Foreign Policy magazine.

The country was the first in Western Europe to curtail immigrant marriages and last year cut social benefits for refugees nearly in half.

Such policies may be ungenerous; they have helped reduce the flow of people coming in and raise native acceptance of those immigrants who are admitted. Read more “Clear-Eyed Danes Have Lessons on Immigration”

Turkey Threatens to End Migrant Deal with Europe

Jens Stoltenberg Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg meets with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara, April 21 (NATO)

Turkey has threatened to stop readmitting refugees who cross over into the European Union illegally unless the bloc liberalizes its visa regulations for Turkish nationals.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the threat at a conference in Istanbul on Tuesday, a day after meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Merkel reiterated the European position on Monday, which is that Turkey needs to reform its sweeping anti-terror laws before travel restrictions can be lifted. Under current legislation, academics and journalists can be prosecuted for “propagandizing” terrorism.

Erdoğan has refused, citing Turkey’s ongoing counterterrorism efforts against Islamists and Kurdish separatists.

Merkel also expressed “deep concern” on Monday about Turkey’s selectively stripping of immunity from a fourth of its lawmakers, precisely those who are sympathetic to the Kurdish cause. Read more “Turkey Threatens to End Migrant Deal with Europe”

Merkel Keeps the Peace in Conservative Coalition

German chancellor Angela Merkel waits for other leaders to arrive at the G7 summit in Bavaria, June 8, 2015
German chancellor Angela Merkel waits for other leaders to arrive at the G7 summit in Bavaria, June 8, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

German chancellor Angela Merkel appears to have found a way to restore the peace in her ruling coalition with a deal that controls the refugee flow coming in from Austria.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced in Berlin that temporary checks on the southern border will remain in place until the European Union as a whole succeeds in controlling its external frontiers.

Until the outer border is impregnable, the German border controls are “necessary and in accordance with European law,” De Maizière said. Read more “Merkel Keeps the Peace in Conservative Coalition”

Löfven Despairs at Swedes’ Gloom

Stefan Löfven
Swedish Social Democratic Party leader Stefan Löfven makes a speech in Stockholm, August 10, 2014 (Socialdemokraterna/Anders Löwdin)

Their economy is growing 4.5 percent this year and unemployment has fallen to its lowest level since the financial crisis yet Swedes are acting “as if everything is going in the wrong direction,” complains their prime minister, Stefan Löfven.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the Social Democrat insists that “all the numbers are going in the right direction, but the picture the public have is that the country is now going in the wrong direction.”

Recent surveys put his party and its left-wing allies almost 5 percentage points behind the right-wing opposition. Read more “Löfven Despairs at Swedes’ Gloom”

Migrant Deal with Turkey Still Looks Unworkable

Angela Merkel Ahmet Davutoğlu
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Ankara, February 8 (Bundesregierung)

European Union countries reached an agreement with Turkey on Friday that they hope will stem the flow of migrants to the continent. But serious doubts about the plan’s workability remain.

Under the deal, migrants reaching the Greek islands from Turkey should be returned. For every Syrian national who is returned to Turkey, the EU would resettle one from refugee camps in Turkey. But the bloc will only take 72,000 at most when millions of Syrians have fled the violence in their country.

When Germany and Turkey tentatively agreed much the same scheme in early March, this website argued that it was likely to disappoint. Our doubts are still the same.

Some 2,000 people land on Greek beaches every day. Officials struggle to fingerprint and register every arrival as it is. Many of them are impatient to travel on to the richer nations of Northern and Western Europe. Forcing people back could get ugly.

Legal experts are also squeamish about the proposal to swap migrants. International asylum regulations clearly stipulate that all applications must be properly considered. A return policy might be illegal. Read more “Migrant Deal with Turkey Still Looks Unworkable”

Migration Policy Unnerves German Business Leaders

German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Meise, Belgium, December 19, 2013
German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Meise, Belgium, December 19, 2013 (EPP)

German businesses are largely dissatisfied with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy.

In a survey conducted for Handelsblatt by the Forsa Institute, 68 percent of managers said they were unhappy with Merkel’s open-door policy against 32 percent who support it.

The owners of small and medium-sized companies are the least satisfied whereas 45 percent of executives are large corporations agree with Merkel’s approach.

Business leaders big and small nevertheless blamed her resistance to more stringent measures for the rise of the Alternative für Deutschland, an anti-immigrant party that made gains in state elections this weekend.

The survey, coming on the heels of a disappointing election result, is a wake-up call for Merkel, whose Christian Democrats rely heavily on the support of businesses. Read more “Migration Policy Unnerves German Business Leaders”

German-Turkish Migration Pact Almost Certain to Flop

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Ankara, February 8
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Ankara, February 8 (Bundesregierung)

A proposal from Germany and Turkey to stop the uncontrolled flow of migrants into Europe could be marred by legal and political objections.

A deal reached on Monday would see Turkey take back migrants who have traveled to Greek islands. For every Syrian who is returned to Turkey, the EU would take a Syrian refugee from camps in the country.

Such a swap could involve hundreds of thousands at a time when European countries, especially Germany, are already overwhelmed by a record influx of people — and when the EU as a whole has managed to resettle just 3,400 asylum seekers under its existing scheme. Read more “German-Turkish Migration Pact Almost Certain to Flop”

Russia Weaponizes Syrian Refugees: NATO

Jens Stoltenberg
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO chairs a North Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, June 25, 2015 (NATO)

NATO’s top military commander on Tuesday accused Russia and its vassal in Syria of “weaponizing” refugees in an attempt to break Europe’s political will.

General Philip Breedlove, the West’s supreme allied commander, told senators in Washington DC that he could think of no reason for the deliberate targeting of civilians in Syria “other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else’s problem.”

“I use the term weaponization of immigration,” he said.

The barrel bombs used by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which Russia protects, have no “military utility,” Breedlove pointed out, and are “designed to terrorize, get people out of their homes and get them on the road.”

He also criticized Russia’s use of “non-precision” weapons in the airstrikes it has itself conducted in Syria. Read more “Russia Weaponizes Syrian Refugees: NATO”