Friday, April 24, 2015

Destroy All Boats

After that daring raid by the RAF to destroy a pick-up truck in Iraq, (which, of course, struck a crippling blow against ISIS - it put their insurance premiums through the roof), our next military action in the Middle East, it seems, could be destroying boats in Libya.  At least that shouldn't tax our depleted military forces too much - a guy with an axe putting holes in the bottoms of rowing boats should be well within the modern Royal Navy's capabilities.  Which is just as well, as apparently the solution to the problem of hundreds of refugees trying to escape across the Mediterranean to Europe from Libya, is to destroy the boats that the people traffickers making money from these tragedies use.   Which begs several questions, most significantly - how do you know which boats they are going to use?  And even you can identify them and destroy them, won't they just commandeer, hire or steal other people's boats?  The only way this could work would be if you were to destroy every boat in North Africa.  Which would simply result in large numbers of perfectly innocent fishermen, traders, ferrymen and the like losing their livelihoods.

This 'solution' to the problem is about as well thought out as the last one - to withdraw the extensive European search and rescue operation in the hope that the fear of drowning would deter people from making the dangerous passage.  Which is rather like trying to cure cancer by making the NHS shut down its oncology departments: 'Ha! They won't dare get cancer now that they know it won't be treated!'  Both of these 'solutions' show a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem - it's a question of economics.  As long as there is a demand for their services, the people traffickers will find ways of operating.  Destroy their boats and they'll simply find more - and charge the refugees they are exploiting even more for their dubious services.  If they can't get boats, they'll sell the poor bastards rafts made from oil drums lashed together with timber and rope.  Failing that, they'll probably sell them polystyrene floats.  The question that European governments need to be asking is why so many people are willing to pay for passage under such hazardous conditions, risking their lives to reach Europe?  Obviously, the answer is because they are desperate to escape an even worse situation - war, famine, extreme poverty, persecution.  Addressing the motivations of the migrants and looking to find long-term solutions to the problems driving them from their homes might be a better strategy for the world's governments.  But hey, what do I know?  Sending in the marines to wreck some rowing boats is obviously a better tactic.  

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