Ilargi: Migration Blowback

Yves here. I’ve substituted for “boomeranging” in the headilne from Ilargi’s original post, since boomerangs are designed to come back if they don’t strike their target, whereas the migrant influx is an unintended downside of nation-breaking.

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor at Automatic Earth. Originally published at

There is no migration crisis, said an article in Toronto’s Globe and Mail a few days ago. French President Emmanuel Macron followed up over the weekend with “there is no migrant crisis”. Really? If this is not a crisis, what is? Yes, numbers of refugees landing in Europe are down from 2015. But it’s not a numbers game. It’s about people.

If Angela Merkel’s political career is forced to a close next week because the EU cannot agree on a unified refugee policy, will they call it a crisis then? Oh wait, both Macron and the G&M agree that there is a crisis, just not a migration one. No, “the crisis is political opportunism”.

But can the crisis be placed squarely on Trump and Italy’s Salvini, or is perhaps what led to their popularity partly to blame for that popularity? Salvini didn’t bomb Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, nor did Trump cause the mayhem in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which is where most migrants come from. That was Bush, Obama, Billary, Blair, Cameron and their ilk. And before them Kissinger etc.

So who are the political opportunists exactly? “We” have exploited all of Africa, the Middle East and South and Central America for so long and so disgustingly thoroughly that it’s today the zenith of misleading arrogance to blame the consequences on Salvini, Trump and other right wingers.

You could see them coming from miles away. You created them. You literally built the space they occupy. What is happening is that the chaos we created in all these places is now boomeranging right back at us, on our own borders. And we’re not getting out of that chaos until we stop creating it in places where we don’t live. Until we allow people a future where they are born.

No, you’re right, Trump is not going to do that. His role is to disrupt the existing system that has relied on creating chaos for decades (or even longer, if you will). Salvini will play that part in Europe, by blowing up the EU. And after they’ve gone, we must find better people than them, but also better than all the rest that today fill our political classes, if we’re to turn chaos into order.

We have gathered our wealth through theft and murder. Untold millions have died and suffered for our riches. It’s time we acknowledge that. Just like it’s time that we acknowledge just how we choose our political “leaders”. Who all come from a tested model that relies on chaos and obfuscation. Because if we don’t, the chaos will continue and intensify.

Angela Merkel has created a problem for which she now has no possible solution anymore. She’s even allegedly trying to reach quid pro quo deals with Albania, Serbia and Skopje: take 100,000 or so refugees and you can become an EU member. The last gasps of Mutti. Merkel will leave behind a union about to implode. From a refugee crisis as well as a financial crisis. Thanks, Angela.

She should never have left Greece in its own double financial and refugee crisis; she should have helped to make it strong. That’s the de facto task of Europe’s leadership, even as it’s crazy that one country gets to call all the important shots for 27 others.

Too late now. Italy is very aware of how Greece has been treated, and very aware it could be next. What does Rome have to lose? They can afford to be fearless. Why not confront Brussels and Berlin? The union’s in tatters anyway.

As for Trump, he doesn’t have anyone to fear either. The Democrats, just like virtually all left wing parties in Europe, have lost their identity and therefore their voters because of Tony Blair, the Clintons stage act and Obama. The US media have become a lousy tired comedy routine, unable to see that a constant barrage of empty attacks on Trump could only ever make them irrelevant.

The New York Times, WaPo, CNN have created the space that Trump operates in. They might as well be working for him. And meanwhile the folks who actually constructed the multiple crises remain out of sight. And have their minions declare that there is no crisis. Or that it’s just a political one, brought on by opportunists.

Salvini and Trump are not the greatest specimens of the human race, but they are not to blame for what’s going on. Salvini will force Europe to either redo its Dublin accord or redo the EU altogether. Trump will water down his border policies. But the driving force behind all of it, hiding in the shadows, still remains.

And that force controls, as it has for many many years, your parliaments and governments. Want to be angry, want to be outraged? Yeah, right there. It’s not about how Trump treats the children, it’s about why they are there in the first place.

And yes, ICE and Homeland Security should be eliminated, they’re insults to America and to the Founding Fathers. But they’re not Trump’s creations. They were there for him to use. And so he did and does. But c’mon guys, take the blinders off. You can’t see a thing with them on. There is a bigger picture.

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33 comments

  1. Alex

    Good overview except for the last paragraph. Abolishing ICE means either that another agency is doing the same job or open borders which is definitely not supported by most of people anywhere

    1. DJG

      Alex: ICE and Heimat Security can be destroyed and rebuilt into something that serves U.S. citizens and that monitors and controls immigration. Right now, they mainly exist to spy on the populace, private prisons, force people to obey laws that are hardly constitutional, and harass the population.

      Open borders are not at issue. The first group of “activists” that runs up against the massive opposition is going to disappear. As I often point out, people like the idea of “open” borders because they want cheap nannies, more guys with leafblowers on their lawns, and docile restaurant workers. That program of “openness” doesn’t have much to stand on at a time when getting a job is so hard.

      And I’d add the FBI and CIA to the list of agencies that have to be suppressed after years of outrageous failure.

      1. hemeantwell

        It’s become clear to me that the only way to approach immigration is to insist on addressing the population-displacing policies carried about by international capital and its (in)security apparatus. As a political program that’s a tall order, to be sure, but as a process of association building it’s possible. No mention should be made of the plight of separated families without linking migration to, for example, the destruction of small farm producers in Mexico, or the overthrow of the reformist Zelaya government in 2009. A near-perverse morality of URGENCY gets constructed around immigration that works against talking about the forces driving it because to do so is portrayed as losing track of immediate suffering.

        Think about the number of times you’ve seen the left being accused of “exploiting the misery of X as an opportunity to talk about capitalism.” But it’s not a question of blaring away about “the system.” It’s a matter of talking about the specific, relevant history of international capitalism as it generates pressures to immigrate. Otherwise we’re stuck arguing at a “they’re not criminals, they’re good people” level, or close to it. As others here have pointed out, that starts to fall flat with people who are worried about the impact of immigration on their jobs.

        1. Jean

          Instead of “we broke it, we bought it, (the third world), and, therefore are responsible for breaking our own societies to allow the people of the third world in, why not
          “Let’s fix the third world?”

          Trump could force them to institute true democratic reforms by cutting off all foreign aid to these countries and imposing tariffs on their imports into the U.S. to fund the costs of their citizens here, until and unless they naturalize legally.

          Instituting universal E-Verify in order to deduct employee wages and costs from business income would resolve most issues around illegals. They check two forms of i.d. when you apply for a job now. Add E-Verify to that.

        2. DJG

          + + +

          End the endless wars. Recognize that class warfare is “a thing,” as the younguns say: And seek leveling of the classes. As in, How about a Gini coefficient for the U S of A of 22?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Add E-Verify! Yes, we need still more security-state intrusion into every aspect of our lives! We should welcome our new overlords with their data bases and technology! THAT will surely fix this immigration illegal alien problem! Mm-hmmm.

      2. Sid Finster

        Add in the NSA, the FISA courts and any other alphabet agencies that we are not supposed to know about.

        Also, to “eliminate them” is not strong enough. They need to be made into examples. I say this, not because I am a vengeful or bloodthirsty person, but because sociopaths learn only from reward and from punishment, but oh, they do learn!

        1. DJG

          + + +

          The question, then, is how to end them but not to load up our prisons with useless FISA judges, out-of-work torturers, and CIA accountants. But maybe vengence means forbidding them from going out to restaurants…

          1. Sid Finster

            Oh, I have a few solutions. Trust me, useful labor can be squeezed out of many of them. Otherwise, just hand them over to their victims and then sell video footage of the festivities on the internet.

    2. Grumpy Engineer

      @Alex: Yep. A proposal to “abolish ICE” naturally leads to the question “and replace it with what?

      If the answer is to “hand immigration enforcement over to another government organization”, that new organization would be responsible for enforcing the same immigration laws. And given that they’d be massively short-handed to handle this new responsibility, they’d likely end up hiring a bunch of ex-ICE personnel to bring staffing up to task. Same laws + same people + Donald Trump overseeing it all = same result. The only real difference would be a new TLA (three-letter acronym) in front.

      And if the answer is “nothing” , then that effectively means “open borders” and uncontrolled immigration. If this were truly done for real, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had 30+ million people immigrate from Mexico and South America (especially Argentina and Venezuela), 60+ million people immigrate from East Asia (especially from China and India), and another 10+ million people immigrade from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The US population could swell from 330 million to 430 million FAST. Existing shortages of housing and high-quality jobs would become more severe, our roads would get much busier, and energy consumption would ramp sharply higher.

      “Abolish ICE” works well as a two-word sound bite, but it’s hardly a complete policy proposal.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I may have the wrong term here, but I recall the phrase “paradox of the aggregate” to mean that once a bunch of humans infill a place that once was desirable, why then, mirabile dictu, nobody wants to either go there or be there. A corollary is maybe the “last immigrant attitude,” where the earlier mover wants to shut the door, drop the portcullis, loose the sharks and crocs in the moat, and pull up the rope ladder.

        Another little bit of logic chopping we might also recall, in our perpetual electoral season, is this:

        The Condorcet paradox (also known as voting paradox or the paradox of voting) in social choice theory is a situation noted by the Marquis de Condorcet in the late 18th century,[1][2][3] in which collective preferences can be cyclic, even if the preferences of individual voters are not cyclic. This is paradoxical, because it means that majority wishes can be in conflict with each other: Majorities prefer, for example, candidate A over B, B over C, and yet C over A. When this occurs, it is because the conflicting majorities are each made up of different groups of individuals.

        Thus an expectation that transitivity on the part of all individuals’ preferences should result in transitivity of societal preferences is an example of a fallacy of composition. Also framed thus: “A group of separately rational individuals may have preferences that are irrational in the aggregate.” Kind of fits on every nut and bold and screw head in the Current Situation, no?

    3. Lambert Strether

      Both DHS and ICE were the result of the spasm of wretched decision-making after 9/11.* I don’t see why we don’t roll the tape back to the time before they existed; the country was doing no worse without them then, and won’t know.

      (I support this on pure civil liberties grounds, BTW, as opposed to a backdoor open borders policy.)

      * To be fair, these decisions were profitable for some. But as public policy these agencies, the Iraq War, the destruction of the Fourth Amendment, were all terrible

  2. Adam Hill

    “And we’re not getting out of that chaos until we stop creating it in places where we don’t live. Until we allow people a future where they are born.”

    We’ve been practicing this in America for decades now, but instead of dropping bombs to destroy things we destroy the local economies of small towns all across America. And the liberal establishment can’t figure out why these people keep voting Republican. Well the Republicans are smart enough to sell them something and often its fear and fake protection from that fear. The best Democrats seem to be able to offer is job training programs for jobs that don’t exist in their town anymore which mean they have to move, even though nobody asked them if they wanted too. If a progressive politician was selling a future in their home towns I can guarantee you the establishment would have no chance against that message.

    1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

      Ok, I’ll bite. Under the current economic system, what future for those towns can a progressive politician offer?

      A lack of ideas seems part of the problem here.

      1. sharonsj

        How about actually taxing the large corporations and the very rich and then using that money for local development? How about ending the failed war on drugs and the endless wars everywhere? How about recovering the $21 trillion “misplaced” by the Pentagon and using that money for universal health care to take the burden off of citizens and small businesses? There are plenty of ideas out there.

      2. djrichard

        Fight the fight for balanced trade. Which would disrupt the whole outsourcing to the global supply chain business model. Which would make Trump a partner, which most libs can’t get past. But we need to make Trump successful on this front.

        Another front to make Trump successful on: infrastructure spending. And not the toll-booth variety.

        Fight for more Fed Gov earmark spending in general. Like what spending on local army bases used to achieve. And come up with some narrative on why the local community deserves some of that earmark spending.

        1. Which is worse - bankers or terorists

          Ok, so spend more on infrastructure and military bases? That’s an economic plan in our high-tech era? I don’t mean to be difficult or truculent but it isn’t clear to me how capital flows to that, and simply flows to real estate and hedge funds instead.

          I see the arguments conceptually for fair and balanced trade but I think once you see the EU send the U.K. back to the Stone Age next March it will be become very difficult politically to make that argument once we watch a G7 country have a humanitarian crisis and food riots.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            There is no reason the US can’t have government pay for infrastructure except ideology.

            We have at least 15 years of catch up spending. You get $3 of GDP growth for every $ spent until you start getting to makework projects. This is a complete no brainer save for the con job…and sadly, you’ve bought into it too.

            1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

              I respect your logic and don’t disagree with what you say, but it is difficult to discount the ideology as a driving force, and one that it independent of logic. To me the Democrat focus on identity politics and GOP focus on nativism is really outside of logic, but this ends up being a major feature of the current body politic. And in the powerful inertia and financial interests resisting these changes and promoting neoliberalism and I’m not sure if you can get around the ideology.

        2. djrichard

          Autarky means no trade. Nobody is asking for that. The idea is balanced trade – to remove the incentive for outsourcing to the global supply chain.

          And regarding Brexit, assuming they are bombed into the stone age, let that be a lesson to us?

          And otherwise, I’m not convinced they’ll be bombed into the stone age.
          They run a perpetual trade deficit with the EU: the UK sends their currency to the EU for goods and services and not all of it is flipped around for goods and services from the UK. Which says that there is demand for UK’s currency in the EU separate and apart from goods and services from the UK. Will that change after Brexit? I doubt it. There’s vested interests on the side of the EU for making sure that they have that currency flow. It’s no different than China’s thirst for currency from the US (albeit China has much more thirst).

          Regarding a desire for high-tech investment, well sure, and good luck with that. I see more success by aiming low. And whether we like it or not, once that money hits the hands of the needy, it will be hoovered up by other parties ready to sell things to the needy. Would certainly prefer that the needy aren’t pledging this cash flow to the banks, but that’s a different battle. The bigger battle is getting money into the hands of the people that need it.

            1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

              I’m just saying here is that we live in a winner take all economy, and many of these individuals in rural areas for a variety of reasons that can’t be changed are not going to be winners unless they leave. The current economic structure doesn’t have a solution for that.

              1. todde

                it doesn’t.

                Increase social security benefits, increase federal aid for rural development, would be a few of my suggestions.

            2. JTMcPhee

              The portion of humans who are driven to consume and control and amass all the wealth will not stop “imbalanced trade,” a nice euphemism for what globalization is doing. Lots of stuff that “we” are supposedly supposed to do to “balance” it off, eh? What are the policies (realistic ones, with the force of force behind them) to make this happen?

              Nice to talk about good old rational “balanced trade,” as if it is a thing. When, since empires got under way and industrialization started, has there been any such thing?

              And yes, trade imbalances cannot go on forever. Neither can the current form of human infestation of the planet. So how do “we” get to something other than a full-stop endpoint for our and so many other species? Meantime, most of us will just “do the best we can” for OURSELVES and the very few people that are near and dear to us. But Remember the Donner Party, and all the episodes of what happens in lifeboats full of humans, out on the vast ocean, before the rescuers find them… A Harvard lecture entitled “The Case For Cannibalism:” — “Hey, as long as I got something to eat, I’m ok!”

              So what is the meaning of life, again?

              1. djrichard

                When, since empires got under way and industrialization started, has there been any such thing?

                We had balanced trade up until Nixon took us of the gold interexchange standard.

                Not that I’m suggesting that we go back on the gold interexchange standard. We just need to penalize the use of the US dollar for other things besides flipping it around for US goods and services. Which will involve much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Not all that different than the whinging we’re seeing with respect to tariffs.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  You are omitting that the US kept devaluing its currency in gold standard terms and basically threw in the towel. Successive devaluations isn’t a viable long-term approach to currency management. The reason the Saudis jacked up oil prices in the 1970s was mainly to compensate for the loss of purchasing power of dollars. Israel was a convenient excuse.

      3. Adam1

        You can pick just about any idea you want. This is a location thing and it’s nothing new, we’ve just given up on it / forgotten how to do it. A couple examples from a bygone era when this was how jobs were created (often as a side benefit to other political desires, but never the less employing desperate poor rural folk was a not a bad thing for the politicians either)…

        NASA runs mission control from Houston, TX; builds rockets (& missiles) in Huntsville, Alabama; and launches them from Florida.

        When I drive my boys down to scout camp we drive by the old Seneca Army Depot. At it’s peak t employed nearly 7,000 people. During the non-war years before it’s closure it was still employing about 800 people. It’s a good 10-20 minutes off any main road or highway and most definitely in a rural setting. When we drive up to scout camp in the Adirondacks we drive by Fort Drum which employs about 1800 people all of the spending power of the solders on base. Fort Drum is also in a very rural community. I’d suspect it’s the largest single employer in the area there now/still.

      4. Bob Haugen

        Book reviews:

        Building the Agricultural City is a vision of our food, agriculture and economic future that could not be more timely. As the cheap inputs—fossil fuels ,minerals, fossil water, and virgin soils—become increasingly depleted and degraded, the input intensive agriculture which has sustained our global food system for the past century will become unmanageable. The kind of bioregional food system that Wolf envisions will then become a necessary alternative for ing human populations. And creating such a food system in the Driftless region now will serve as a “beacon of light” for other bioregions as this transformation takes place.


        Frederick Kirschenmann, Author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience:Essays From a Farmer Philosopher

        Bob Wolf loves America and he loves rural America with a rare passion. More importantly, he knows what rural America needs to be vital again–economically, culturally and socially. In this small book Bob has brought together a lifetime of creative and practical work to restore the vision of regionalism, which is the real hope of rural America. May his voice be heard!

        Robert Karp, Codirector, Biodynamic Association

        See also

        The sense of impotence and dread in rural America is a consequence of decades of economic extraction and exploitation carried out in the guise of rural economic development. Rural areas are suffering the consequences of prolonged “economic colonization”—a term typically used in reference to neoliberal economic development in nations previously colonized politically. Rather than being colonized by national governments, most economic colonization today is carried out by multinational corporations, which is the case in rural America….
        any hope for a positive future for rural America depends on local communities taking action – rural people taking their future in their own hands. In order for people in rural areas to shape their own destiny, they must be willing and able to work together for the common good of their communities. But first, they must come to a common understanding and acceptance of the ultimate source or root cause of rural economic, social, and ecological degradation and depletion.

        1. djrichard

          In order for people in rural areas to shape their own destiny …

          Problem is the rural people share the same currency as the non-rural people. It’s the same problem as Greece being on the same currency as Germany. Greece has effectively been colonized by Germany. In Greece’s case, if they want to shape their own destiny, the answer is clear: go back to having your own currency.

          Which is not an option for rural areas in the US. But at least the US doesn’t operate like the Eurozone. Unlike the Eurozone, the US has a federal budget which more-or-less offsets trade imbalances between states (i.e. sures by the corporations which are hosted in NY, CA, what have you). But if that spending by the Fed Gov is only earmarked at the state level and doesn’t discriminate for rural areas, well that’s an issue.

  3. rd

    Two cakes were baked by the US to create the migrant crises:

    1. Destabilization of Central American countries @ 1980s (e.g. Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, etc.) – it is not accidental that the illegal immigrants from Central America appear to be coming from largely the same countries that the CIA was fomenting trouble in 35 years ago. Destabilization can occur quickly but take decades or centuries to repair.

    2. Invasion of Iraq in 2003 – destabilization of the Fertile Crescent region unleashing sectarian violence causing refugees to head for southeast Europe.

    People don’t want to leave their homes in normal times. It is generally famine, economic depression, religious persecution, revolution, and war that create refugees. That is why the US has historically seen immigration waves coming from individual countries or regions instead of an even trickle from everywhere.

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