Friday, November 23, 2018

Questionable Judgement, Terrible Timing

What's striking- or should be- is the timing as

Europe must get a handle on immigration to combat a growing threat from rightwing populists, Hillary Clinton has said, calling on the continent’s leaders to send out a stronger signal showing they are “not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support”.

 In an interview with the Guardian, the former Democratic presidential candidate praised the generosity shown by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, but suggested immigration was inflaming voters and contributed to the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said, speaking as part of a series of interviews with senior centrist political figures about the rise of populists, particularly on the right, in Europe and the Americas.

“I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message – ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ – because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.”

Clinton’s remarks are likely to prove controversial across Europe....

 In other risky predictions, the New Orleans Saints will get into the NFL playoffs this year.

By sheer  and complete coincidence, an article appeared yesterday in Politico addressing a seemingly unrelated- yet actually related- issue. Noting the increasing support of evangelical Christians (I'm from Missouri on this) for criminal justice reform, Politico notes that the idea of reducing prison populations "gained prominence on the left, too. In 2015, former President Bill Clinton — whose policies led to the mass incarceration of drug offenders — called for a bipartisan fix to sentencing rules that swelled prison populations."

It has for years now been assumed wisdom on the left thatthe Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 was a disaster. That is a gross oversimplification because the primary problem with the legislation was its timing.

Coming at the tail end of public apprehension and revulsion with rising crime, especially of the violent type, the legislation was enacted in the tenth- and final- year of rising crime rates. The following year, as if by magic, crime began to decrease.

With a lag time to be expected, there is little chance that more than a small portion of that decline can be attributed to the legislation.  There are many reasons for the decline the past quarter century, probably only two of them (#1 and #2 here) directly aided by the law.

Enacted only after congressional and presidential resistance to punitive action could not withstand public pressure, the measure came about only after most of the intended benefit could be realized.

And so Hillary Clinton, wife of the president who signed an ill-timed crime-reduction bill, has issued a (arguably) prudent warning to European leaders- but at a curious moment in history given that, as The New York Times explains, in recent years

... centrist leaders have worked to make the continent less hospitable to unauthorized migrants; the number of new arrivals there has dropped to a fraction of what it was.

For instance, Ms. Merkel, the center-right German leader, and Frans Timmermanns, the center-left former Dutch foreign minister, led efforts to forge a counter-migration pact with Turkey in March 2016, promising the country billions of euros in aid for its help in stemming the migrant flow from Syria. Italy reached a similar deal with Libya. The deal was criticized by liberals, leftists and rights activists — but afterward, unauthorized migration to Europe plummeted by 90 percent.

“We must get the facts straight,” said Gerald Knaus, the architect of the controversial deal with Turkey. “Today in 2018, few irregular migrants reach the European Union.”

Knauss added "today in 2018, few irregular migrants reach the European Union," thus "just getting tough without any strategy does the work of the far right." As of four months ago, "the actual number of arriving migrants is back to its pre-2015 level, even as the politics of migration continue to shake the continent."

That probably applies also to the United States of America.  The authoritarian who openly admires totalitarian leaders worldwide has applauded Brexit; questioned Article V of the NATO treaty; pulled the USA out of the Paris global climate change treaty and the Iran nuclear deal to which Europe is committed; urged France to abandon the European Union; condemned the mayor of  London after a terrorist attack upon his city; threatened tariffs against European allies; cozied up to NATO's enemy, Russia; and tried to undermine June's G7 summit in Quebec. At some point, a pattern emerges.  

Crime legislation supported by Hillary Clinton and enacted by her husband may (or may not) have proven very wise if adopted the previous decade. Similarly, when Europe faced a crisis a few years ago brought on by oppressive regimes, war, and climate change, Mrs. Clinton's remarks criticizing the continent for its policy on refugee resettlement may have made a little sense.

Since then, the problem has been somewhat- however imperfectly- resolved.   The timing is especially inauspicious while the President of the USA exploits traditional American distrust of Europe in order to destroy the political, economic, and strategic ties among its member nations, and with the USA.

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