Comin’ In From The Cold

John Le Carré made the words famous in his third book—the start of a set of tales about cold war Europe—a continent torn apart by an age-old recipe: the fight for dominance.

France, Germany, Britain, and Russia were the protagonists of this struggle, and three generations later, still are. Somewhere in the mix are the Americans, whose relationship with the UK gives the ‘sick man of Europe’—Margaret Thatcher’s words, not mine—proxy gravitas.

Europe’s borders, and more particularly the boundaries of the European Union, are one of the bleeding edges of current conflict—one which is quite similar to the cold war, except the curtain has moved east. In addition, some nations who were satellite cold warriors are now within the EU—Poland and Hungary.

Migrants were one of the main causes of Brexit and are a favorite excuse for the rise of the European right wing, rooted in white supremacy and imbued by the trappings of Nazism—any ideology needs to find its enemy. Jews for Hitler, Arabs for the French right, Turks in Germany, Poles and Romanians in Britain.

Up till recently, immigration was a problem for southern Europe—refugees from the American and British Middle East wars into the southeast, and displaced and desperate souls from the rain forest to the Maghreb into the southwest.

As a consequence, it’s become a common threat for countries like Turkey to threaten to open the floodgates and swamp Greece or Italy with endless migration.

For poor-post-Brexit-Britain, plagued by problems and ruled by crap cakeism conservatives, immigration continues to be a nightmare, with migrants crossing the channel in anything that appears to float. The folks that attempt the crossing are not Romanians, Bulgarians, or Poles—they are desperate people who penetrated the borders of Fortress Europe.

Contrary to the EU immigrants who picked the fruit, drove the trucks, and served at restaurants, the people England now receives have far weaker skill sets and no European work ethic. Migration within Europe is long-standing—Ireland to England during the potato famine, post-war Italy to France and England, Portugal to France during the colonial war…

What does workers had in common was the wish to at some point return home with enough financial security to prosper in their own land. They had little interest in the politics of their host country, and certainly no inclination to perform acts of terror—they were more focused on acts of terroir.

Migrants have found increasingly innovative ways to try to get across the ever-more-impressive barriers that EU countries put in their way. Last Friday, a bunch of Moroccans flying from Casablanca to Istanbul forced an Air Arabia jet to land in Majorca by having one of their number fake a diabetic coma.

As the ‘patient’ was taken to hospital, the others demanded to go onto the tarmac to smoke—in itself an amazing request given the inflammable nature of everything that is flight-related—forced open a door on the Airbus A320, and ran for the hills.

This type of tactic is far cheaper than using people smugglers—a couple of hundred euros for the flight—but doesn’t have a lot of repeat potential.

Far more worrying, and thought out with the precision of a Russian grandmaster opening with the Giuoco Piano, is what a chess player might term the Belarusian Gambit.

The transportation of Mid-East refugees to Byelorussia was a perverse masterstroke both in terms of tactic and timing. With ‘General Winter’ rapidly approaching, amassing potential immigrants one country away from the German border is a source of huge contention—true, it’s seven hundred miles across Poland, but the pressure on the EU is huge. This is compounded by the fact that Poland’s right-wing government is already at odds with the EU, who now expects it to secure the union’s eastern border.

In addition, Russia indirectly pressures Lithuania, who the bear does not forgive for its secession from Russia and membership of the European club. Germany is suddenly at the center of this mess, just when it is discussing the potential Jamaica coalition and sits between governments. And the cold, always the awful cold—it saw off Hitler and Napoleon, so it will make short work of ill-clad Mideastern peasants.

Poland knows it has a good poker hand to play.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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