September 18, 2015
It’s popular to decry the temporary reinstatement of national borders as a death knell of the European project. This is perhaps premature and definitely hyperbole. It is entirely rational for Germany to behave in this manner given that it is a refugee crisis. Democratic governments often work against their deep-held ideals in times to crisis to allow themselves to react appropriately to emerging situations.
Germany resuming border controls during a time when uncounted masses push across the frontier in search of the German promised land is sensible. Firstly, border controls allow them to monitor and take inventory of the situation. All good policy decisions begin with information, and accommodating refugees is no different. Secondly, the reality is that the German state cannot accommodate unlimited people. It has been very generous in regards to said accommodation (probably due to the perception that Frau Merkel was unfeeling to the now popular plight of the refugee), but it cannot afford to stand alone. This is why a European solution is important for the health of the entire community that Germany is a pillar of. Germany can control this flow by itself by controlling its borders and forcing people to turn to less popular countries in search of refuge.
Germany isn’t behaving in anti-European or anti-humanitarian manners by doing so. As I wrote, countries often take drastic measures in face of crises. By taking a seemingly anti-European measure, it is safe-guarding its commitment to Europe. By giving itself more control with which to act, it allows itself to manage the crisis better and defuse potential long-term problems for the whole of Europe.
All in all, border controls are a ridiculous thing to get up in arms about. I get the significance to Europe and I appreciate it, but I cannot help by think of the FLQ (Front de libération du Québec) crisis in Canada. In order to respond to terrorists kidnapping a Quebec provincial minister, Pierre Laporte, and the British Trade Commission, James Cross, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared martial law. I feel this does not require substantiation. Armed forces are not being called in to police cities, people are checking passports. Trudeau has a famous interview on the matter, I highly recommend it, “There’s a lot of bleeding hearts around that just don’t like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is: ‘Go on and bleed, but it’s more important to keep law and order in a society than be worried about weak-kneed people that don’t like the looks of (armed forces.)” to which the CBC reporter, Tim Rafle, cut in to ask what lengths he would go to secure order, to which the Prime Minister famously responded “Just watch me.”
I know I’ve taken anti-authority stances in the past, but it’s unreasonable to ask our governments to do great works and then get squeamish when they do. If it takes a symbolic defeat in terms of temporary border controls to find a long term problem facing the whole of Europe, then it is evident that bemoaning these temporary measures is short-sighted, self-destructive and foolish.C. Shannon