Alphen, Netherlands. 3 July. This blog coincides with the publication of a new book edited by Professor Paul Cornish and Kingsley Donaldson entitled 2020: World of War (London: Hodder) in which I have a chapter. A second blog on the book itself will be published later in the week.
The mission of this blog is to confront difficult policy and strategy issues. With badly-managed hyper-immigration into Europe once again on the rise this blog poses two policy questions. What is the link between migration and terrorism? What level of increased risk will be imposed on European citizens through the importing of conflicts made elsewhere whilst Europe’s leaders fail to find a balance between security and humanity? This blog makes no judgement on those seeking a better life in Europe. As an immigrant myself I would do exactly the same if faced with the same circumstances. It takes incredible courage/desperation to set off into the unknown in the hands, and at the mercy of the unscrupulous. However, migration and terrorism are twin crises that when combined with mismanagement in Europe enable a link between them.
The International Office of Migration says that thus far in 2017 some 95,768 people have entered Europe illegally across the Mediterranean. Some 85% have made the crossing from Libya to Italy, with over 500,000 having passed through Italian ports since 2014. In 2016 over 10,000 arrived in Spain from Morocco, a 46% increase over the previous year. A leaked German government report of May this year suggested up to 6 million illegal immigrants were waiting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, with over 1500 having died already in 2017 trying to make the crossing. One Spanish official warns that Spain is facing an “avalanche” of people.
The other day I gave a talk in Vienna to language professionals on the front-line of migration management. My speech focused on the relationship between badly-managed hyper-immigration and terrorism. My essential point was that most European leaders will do almost anything to avoid answering the questions I have posed at the outset of this blog, rendering impossible the making of policy and the crafting of strategy. Consequently, the risk grows daily to the very people to whom, and for whom, they are meant to be responsible. Three recent tragedies in my own country, Britain, serve to illustrate the extent to which political leaders are failing, even refusing, to protect their own citizens.
Home-grown or imported?
Politicians talks increasingly of home-grown terrorism when atrocities are committed. Really? The recent attacks in the UK were all the products (save one) of immigration. The suicide bombing in Manchester, which killed twenty-two and injured many more, was committed by a first generation Briton of Libyan descent whose family had been granted political asylum in the 1990s. Two of the three terrorists who committed the London Bridge attacks were born in Pakistan and Morocco respectively, whilst the third was of Moroccan-Italian extraction. Only the (alleged) terrorist who attacked Muslims outside a mosque in North London identified himself with what might be termed extremist nativist identity.
Last month Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that over the last year the UK population grew by the largest number since 1947, when huge number of British servicemen returned to the country in the wake of World War Two. According to the Head of the Population Estimation Unit at the ONS, “net international migration continued to be the main driver”. This would tally with recent Home Office (interior ministry) figures that suggest that each year up to 250,000 immigrants simply disappear from official view. In other words, the British government has no clue who is in the country, making the crafting of security policy almost impossible. Much the same can be said for the rest of Europe. From a security perspective this is an unacceptable situation.
Strategic implications? Control of immigration has clearly been lost by the British and other European states. Consequently, trust is breaking down between Europe’s citizens and their states/EU over this issue. It is a breakdown of trust that accelerates in the wake of every terrorist attack creating the political space for so-called ‘populists’ to exploit, which in turn widens the gap between communities within society.
Societal challenges? It is in that gap between communities where terrorism is so often spawned. Even if migrants eventually gain the right to stay in Europe, as most do, there is little evidence of their being properly integrated into society. Britain again. Trevor Phillips, the former Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality warned recently that ‘communities’ in Britain now live “parallel lives” with little contact between them.
Policy assumptions? London is seemingly incapable of deporting all but a few of those who have no right to be in the country, and given the growing pressure from huge numbers of people from war-torn and impoverished societies to get into Britain, such pressures will only grow. As will the threat from terrorism. As Mosul and Raqqa fall Islamic State terrorists will disperse with many of them doubtless seeking to return to Europe from the Levant hell bent on causing carnage.
Analysis? The refusal of Europe’s elite to recognise the link between badly-managed hyper-immigration and terrorism prevents coherent policy and strategy being crafted to deal with either or both. It is this failure of policy that provides the sombre answer to the questions I posed at the outset of this blog. Consequently, the level of risk imposed on British/European citizens will increase steadily through a mix of political incompetence and misplaced political correctness. Result? Many more Europeans – black, white, and people of faith and of no faith – will die because leaders lack the political courage to do what is necessary to make their own people safe.
What to do?
The strategic aim of policy should be an end to uncontrolled, badly-managed hyper-immigration, the re-establishment of control, the effective management of sustainable levels of immigration, and a proper understanding, and thus separation of the migration crisis from the terrorism crisis, via considered and properly applied policy and strategy. The ‘solution’ to what is a systemic crisis, and the confluence between hyper-migration and terrorism, will require political courage, effective management, sustained efforts at integration, and long-term investment in source countries over the short, medium, and longer-terms.
Effective management: People with a right to asylum must be assessed quickly and afforded sanctuary. However, asylum must not be a backdoor route to permanent residency in Europe. Those with no right to stay must be returned from whence they came, albeit in a manner consistent with Europe’s commitment to humane treatment. Those who discard their papers in an attempt to thwart identification must be assessed by language and dialect experts. More routes should be made available for properly managed immigration to Europe. Border checks should be rigorously enforced with a proper EU-wide effort to support the front-line states such as Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Spain. In Britain’s case identity cards must finally be issued to everyone in the UK. It is simply unacceptable that a country that is so obviously a target for terrorism has little or no idea who is in the country. Efforts by legions of human rights lawyers to thwart due process in deportation cases must be resisted.
Integration: Far more systematic efforts must be made to foster social cohesion between host societies and immigrants. Efforts could include the recruiting of Imams born in their host country, rather than importing them from abroad. Much greater efforts also need to be made in language training. In fact, once such communities are established many second and third generation citizens do very well at school and in broader education. They must be afforded every opportunity so to do. In return for sustained efforts to promote better integration European governments must also work with communities to promote deradicalisation. The flow of money from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States into Europe in support of radical interpretations of Islam, such as Wahhabism, must be stopped, whatever the diplomatic consequences. The Times today reveals that London has suppressed a report that identifies the scale of financial support from Saudi Arabia for such extremism.
Investment: More sustained efforts is needed by all Europeans via the EU to inform and deter would be migrants from undertaking such a perilous gamble in the first place. This will also require the sustained application of aid and development in source countries. Too often aid and development by European states reflects more the ticking of politically-correct boxes than a systematic and rigorous outcomes-driven application of taxpayer’s money in pursuit of strategic security goals.
Mind the Gap
Europe is not as yet a Kumbaya society. Badly-managed hyper-immigration involves importing into Europe the very stresses, problems, and indeed dangers, from which migrants are fleeing. Yes, there can be an upside to immigration, but there are also huge dangers for Europeans that range from crime to terrorism, as well as the creeping paralysis of effective foreign, security and defence policies as European leaders seek to ‘buy off’ diverse groups within society. Until Europe’s leaders properly confront the link between migration and terrorism the gap between what the politicians say, and the experience ordinary people face on the street, will continue to widen with profound implications for the very trust upon which society relies.
For Britain the implications of the twin crises are sobering. A state that cannot control its borders, does not know who is in the country, cannot house those people in the country properly, provide security, and which is led by people who refuse to face reality – Left and Right – is a country in terminal decline. That, I fear, is the future for my once proud country, but one which could also apply equally to the rest of Europe. Make no mistake, Europe’s society-bending, society-changing hyper-immigration crisis is only just beginning, and Europe’s leaders are in denial. What more could the terrorists want?
Unregulated hyper-immigration would always pose a policy challenge to European leaders. However, it is the confluence of huge and fast flows of unregulated migrants with Salafist jihadism that poses a real threat to Europe. That might seem a statement of the blindingly obvious. Sadly, it is not for too many of Europe’s in-denial leaders. For once Europe’s leaders must have the courage to face reality, and be honest about it.