The real effect of the EU’s migrant dilemma
From January to April last year, 56 immigrants died crossing the Mediterranean. In the same period this year, the number was 1,750. On April 20, over 800 died when their boat capsized. That tragedy got Europe’s attention. Germany’s Spiegel said, “We have become accomplices to one of the biggest crimes to take place in European postwar history” (April 20).
But Europe will not open its doors to tens of thousands more African immigrants, making any debate over the morality of such a policy irrelevant. Just about all of Europe’s major leaders know that in the coming months, after this crisis has blown over and been forgotten, they will face serious challenges from anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim parties. Opening the doors to impoverished Muslims from North Africa will only cost them votes.
Amid the platitudes are important developments. This migrant dilemma is leading the European Union to grow its military presence in the Mediterranean, gradually drawing it deeper into Africa.
After an emergency meeting on April 23 in response to the growing death toll, EU leaders announced they would triple the funding for their Mediterranean surveillance operation, Triton, to about $9.7 million a month. Several EU members have pledged to contribute military assets, including Britain’s flagship, the hms Bulwark, 11 ships from Germany, and French planes.
More dramatically, EU leaders also promised a mission “to identify, capture and destroy” ships used to ferry the immigrants over, “before they are used by traffickers.”
Such a military mission would require either an invitation from Libya (which lacks a functioning government) or a United Nations mandate. Russia may block any mission, but the public promise shows that European leaders favor military involvement in Africa over loosening immigration restrictions.
At the European Council summit, EU leaders promised to “increase support to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger among others, to monitor and control the land borders and routes.” This would include building on current military operations in the region. They also promised to “deploy European migration liaison officers in key countries to gather information on migratory flows, coordinate with national liaison officers, and cooperate directly with the local authorities.”
These are small steps, but bigger ones will follow. Last year, 170,000 people crossed from Libya into Italy or Turkey. That wave alone poses political and economic problems for southern Europe, and the trend also poses a national security threat. Over the last few months, leaders of the Islamic State terrorist group have threatened to send terrorists to Europe in the migrants’ boats.
One prominent Islamic State supporter wrote in an online essay that Libya “has a long coastline and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat, and note that the number of ‘illegal immigration’ trips from this coast is massive ….”
“If this was even partially exploited and developed strategically, pandemonium could be wrought in southern Europe,” he continued.
Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar gave a similar warning, telling the Associated Press that Islamist militants “will head with the illegal migrants to Europe” (March 20).
This has probably already happened. There are certainly extremists among the migrants. Sicilian police reported in April that a group of Muslims had thrown 12 of their fellow migrants overboard, drowning them because of religion: The victims were Christian.
Islamic State supporters have also posted photos taken in Rome, showing that they are in the city and planning to attack. Islamists have also discussed using Libya as a base to attack Mediterranean shipping.
Europe’s response has revolved around securing the Continent. A real possibility now exists of European military strikes in Libyan waters, even on Libyan territory. Functioning only within 30 miles of its coast, Europe’s surveillance operation is not aimed at rescuing immigrants, but at protecting Europe.
Odds are that this won’t be enough to defeat the Islamists—Europe rarely takes action strong enough to solve any problem unless it is forced to. But an increased Islamist presence in Libya would force Europe to act.
“All you need to do is get a good map of the Middle East, with the emphasis on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Then you can see why … radical Islam is so interested in an alliance with or control over” Libya and Ethiopia “as well as Egypt and Tunisia,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in April 2011. “They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world!”
In April 2013, he wrote, “Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important prophetic implications.”
Immigration and the threat Islamic militants pose are drawing Europe deeper into this battleground. To learn more on where this is leading, read Mr. Flurry’s article “Libya and Ethiopia Reveal Iran’s Military Strategy.”
China gaining ground, literally and littorally
Satellite photos show that China is gaining ground in the South China Sea. The images show Chinese workers dredging huge amounts of sand from the seafloor, pumping it onto submerged coral reefs, and paving over the sand to create an artificial island.
Were this project happening in Chinese waters, it would be uncontroversial. But the site of the project is Mischief Reef, 800 miles from China and only 150 miles from the Philippines. China claims Mischief, but the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says it belongs to the Philippines. The reef falls well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
“It’s a major or critical concern,” said Philippine Defense Ministry spokesman Peter Galvez on April 9. “They have to dismantle it. It’s a concern not only for our country and region, but for the whole international community.”
Mischief Reef isn’t the only place where China is creating artificial land. China claims ownership of about 90 percent of the vast South China Sea and is also reclaiming land on six other disputed reefs. So far, Beijing has created more than 1.5 square miles of landmass on the reefs, and the operations are increasing in both pace and scale.
On the new islands, China is building fuel storage facilities, ports, surveillance posts and airstrips. Experts say China is militarizing the islands, enhancing its ability to project power in the region.
Vasily Kashin, senior research fellow at Moscow’s Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told the Trumpet the economic potential of these artificial islands is also important. “[T]hey can establish not just military presence, but some symbolic economic activity as well,” he said.
China’s illegal operations present a difficulty for the United States. The Philippines is a U.S. treaty ally, and Beijing is building the islands rapidly. At its current pace, Beijing’s claim to the South China Sea could become reality before anything can be done to challenge it.
U.S. President Barack Obama seems unwilling to confront the Chinese activity with anything beyond gentle rhetoric. Beijing appears to believe that under the current administration, the U.S. is unlikely to back its treaty ally and challenge Chinese expansionism.
Cyberattack could start nuclear war
Retired U.S. Gen. James Cartwright warned that a cyberattack could start nuclear war, according to an April 29 Associated Press article.
Cartwright said cyberthreats to command-and-control systems have “increased exponentially” over the past decade. Lone wolves are no longer the main threat—it is hostile nation states.
America needs to assume its systems are compromised, he said.
Cartwright, who headed Strategic Command from 2004 to 2007, says the best solution is to “de-alert” nuclear arsenals. This would reduce the chance of firing a weapon in response to a false warning of attack. He says a 24-to-72-hour lead time for missiles to be fired is needed.
These suggestions are unlikely to be implemented. The world’s two largest nuclear powers, Russia and America, are at odds over the invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the West is set to let Iran build a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have said they will pursue a bomb if Iran is allowed to have one.
Nuclear deterrents will be on higher alert than ever.
Gibraltar: If Britain leaves EU, we will stay
Despite ongoing Spanish efforts to retake control of Gibraltar, each time the people of the peninsula vote on the issue, they vote overwhelmingly to remain part of the United Kingdom. But on April 14, Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, discussed an event that could lead Gibraltar to sever ties.
“I know that there are many in the UK who advocate the UK moving out of the EU who consider themselves to be very good friends of Gibraltar, but they need to understand the economics of this,” Mr. Picardo told the Financial Times.
“The only existential threat to our economy is one where we are pulled out of the European Union against our will and denied access to the single market,” he added.
Picardo says that if Britain votes to exit the EU—which could be the outcome of an in/out referendum planned for 2017—then Gibraltar would opt to stay in it.
Such an event would not totally sever Gibraltar’s links to Britain, but it would represent a significant split between the two. Such a split could be exploited by Spain and the EU to assert more control over the Rock.
The Trumpet forecasts that Britain will eventually lose control of Gibraltar. To learn why, read “Changing of the Guard” in our free booklet He Was Right.
Falklands in danger?
Russia is preparing to lease 12 long-range, supersonic bomber jets to Argentina. Reports in late March show that some in Britain fear the move could be designed to prepare Argentina to take over the Falkland Islands.
Argentina has long argued that the Falklands—which it calls the Malvinas—are Argentine territory and should be controlled by Buenos Aires instead of London. Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, but the 74-day conflict ended with British forces overwhelming the Argentines.
But British defense cuts in recent years leave the Falklands more vulnerable to attack, particularly if Russia beefs up Argentina’s armaments. “It is a very live threat,” British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said March 23 concerning Moscow’s plan to equip Argentina with attack planes. “We have to respond to it.”
Former Defense Minister Sir Gerald Howarth said Russia’s plan “is very serious indeed. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has many problems at home, and yet he is ramping up tension in the Falklands.”
Russian politicians and pro-Kremlin journalists typically side with Argentina over the Falklands and criticize British sovereignty there as “colonial occupation.” Russians sometimes refer to the Falklands as the “Crimea of the Atlantic.”
After Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said, “The Malvinas have always belonged to Argentina, the same way that Crimea also belonged to the Soviet Union until it was given to Ukraine.” Kirchner strongly supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and now Moscow is backing her claim to the Falklands with the use of a dozen bombers.
On March 22, Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian Duma’s committee of international affairs, tweeted: “Information for London: In the Crimea, immeasurably more reason to be a part of Russia than in the Falkland Islands to be part of the UK.” Putin himself has also made his support for Argentina’s claims clear.
In a sign that the United Kingdom takes the Russo-Argentine cooperation seriously, Fallon said Britain will invest $265 million to bolster the Falklands’ defenses over the next 10 years.
Japan revises defense guidelines
Japan took another step away from pacifism on April 27 when it unveiled new defense guidelines that expand the global reach of the Japanese military.
Under previous restrictions, Japanese forces were only allowed to assist United States forces if the U.S. was directly engaged in defending Japan and its vicinity. Those guidelines kept Japanese troops out of overseas conflicts for decades. Under the new guidelines, Japanese forces can deploy anywhere on Earth to help any friendly nation under attack.
Before and during World War ii, the Japanese military committed some of the worst brutality in history. In the immediate aftermath of that history, the United States occupied Japan and drafted its constitution to discourage military fanaticism. The new constitution banned war as a means for Japan to settle international disputes. Shortly after, the U.S. and Japan signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. This codified Japanese dependence on the U.S. for defense and authorized stationing U.S. troops near potential regional conflict zones in the region.
The historic new guidelines unravel the constitutional ban as well as the security agreement.
“The guidelines make it look as if the constitutional restrictions on Japan’s military operations and the legal framework of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty have been consigned to oblivion,” wrote the Asia and Japan Watch on April 28. “This policy shift will eventually start influencing Japanese society and politics. This is a change of course that will cause Japan to veer off the path it has been following since the end of World War ii.”
Washington has given Japan’s new guidelines its full support, since U.S. leaders want Tokyo to shoulder some of the burden of stabilizing global conflicts—especially aggression from China and North Korea. But Japan’s recent wartime past, the reason Japan was forced into pacifism in the first place, makes this change potentially deadly.
To understand more, read “Why the Trumpet Monitors Japan’s March Away From Pacifism Toward Militarism.”